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Cincinnati PTSD expert, former CPD sergeant touring country to help stop veteran suicides

CopOp LLC going national
Posted at 4:17 PM, Oct 23, 2023

CINCINNATI — When former Cincinnati Police Sgt. Dave Corlett headed up CPD's Military Liaison Group, his goal was to use the military backgrounds of more than 200 officers to help community members who served and are dealing with post-traumatic stress.

In the years since its inception, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has pushed for the program to be implemented in every law enforcement department in the state. Corlett has also received national recognition from the Department of Justice.

RELATED | Cincinnati police sergeant's military liaison program, VA honored for helping veterans

Corlett’s goal through it all is to prevent more veteran suicides.

“Veteran suicide isn't what people think it is, you know, most people believe that a veteran comes home from Iraq or Afghanistan and they've experienced these horrible traumas and they can't live with what they've seen, and they commit suicide,” Corlett said. “That’s part of it.”

The other part, he said, is a 10-year journey that can begin with not sleeping well and lead to things like drinking or substance abuse.

“And then it goes to a marital issue and then it goes to a job issue. Ten years down the road, they're suicidal,” Corlett said. “But at any point in that 10 years, a law enforcement officer or first responder can step in and get them to the proper resource and they never reach that point.”

Dr. Kate Chard with the University of Cincinnati Stress Lab is a leading researcher of PTSD treatment for the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“The worst thing we can ever do for a first responder or a veteran is have them not go in for care,” said Chard. “If we can actually get care started, we know suicide rates go way down. So I feel like this is a way to actually stop this epidemic of first responder and veteran suicide.”

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For years, Corlett and Chard spoke to police departments, organizations and even corporations about stress and PTSD — both in veterans and other employees. A partnership soon formed for one cause.

“The doctor and I met during crisis intervention training one time, and she listened to me teach the basics and then I listened to what she taught. And we kind of decided that it went together,” Corlett said.

He started CopOp LLC to provide training tied to workplace stress and PTSD in law enforcement and the veteran community. Chard is the second half of the team, speaking with first responders and others, giving them the tools necessary to help themselves and veterans.

“I talk about PTSD and what the research shows and I educate them, but Dave puts a real face to it. He helps them realize that the things they thought were just everyday things that shouldn't be affecting them are things that absolutely can affect you,” Chard said.

Corlett said he’s seen immediate connections to those he speaks with when sharing his personal journey of PTSD and stress during these talks.

“(I spent) five years of my life as the angry guy. Where I didn't know why I was angry. I didn't know who I was angry at, I was just, just, just angry,” Corlett said.

He explained working with Chard brought to light issues he never knew he needed to work through.

“And the more I talk about it, the more I teach about it, the more I relate it to other people,” Corlett said.

He said his wife would recognize the angry guy side of him and he says would send him to another room so he could avoid others.

“We just didn't know why. I mean, you know, nothing happened that day ... nothing to make me angry. Nothing. There was no reason my drive home was so aggressive. Why? Why I felt like everybody was in my way, you know, just those emotions are a build-up of all the other events. And we don't understand that until I talk about it,” Corlett said of his journey working through his personal ties to PTSD and stress.

Their efforts caught the attention of the national organization Hope For The Warriors.

“To have Dr. Chard and Dave Corlett, who have been doing this work in Cincinnati and had tremendous success and supporting the veteran community to have them come in and align with Hope For The Warriors and bring that knowledge and expertise to different states and cities is a measurable impact for the veteran community,” said Emma Walsh, Chief Impact Officer of Hope For The Warriors.

Both Chard and Corlett will take part in a 24-city speaking tour with Hope For The Warriors.

“One of Hope's primary missions is the reduction in veteran suicide. That's one of my primary missions,” said Corlett.

“We will go and talk wherever we're needed, where we can make a difference,” Chard added.

You can find out more about UC Stress Center and the work Chard and the team are doing every day by visiting their website or calling 513-585-5872.

If you’d like to read more about Hope For The Warriors mission check out their website.

If you have a veteran story to tell in your community, email homefront@wcpo.com. You also can join the Homefront Facebook group, follow Craig McKee on Facebook and find more Homefront stories here.