Cincinnati Police Department Supports NVWG
The Cincinnati Police Department is seen at a rugby match at the NVWG. (Photo By Courtney Verrill)
Cincinnati Police Department officers are coming out in droves to show their support for athletes at the NVWG.
CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Police Department officers are coming out in droves to show their support for athletes at the 37th annual National Veterans Wheelchair Games (NVWG).
They’ve checked out wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball, obstacle course and air rifle events at this week’s NVWG, co-sponsored by Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), at the Duke Energy Convention Center. They helped out at the block party Thursday. They even have their own table just outside of the awards area to answer questions and just talk to wheelchair veteran athletes and share their stories.
That connection is important for Sgt. Dave Corlett. Cincinnati’s police department is filled with veterans. In fact, Corlett says out of 1,000 sworn officers, more than 340 are veterans.
“As a supervisor, we let them come down and check it out. All they’ve got to do is let me know where they are and what they’re doing. They’re city policemen, so they’re still in the city doing their thing,” says Corlett, who’s been a police officer for the past 25 years. “We like the guys to participate in events like this. It reflects favorably upon them and the city.”
But there’s a deeper story behind their presence and support at this year’s Games. Corlett is one of the main reasons behind it.
A Cincinnati Police hands out stickers during Kid's Day at the NVWG. (Photo by Courtney Verrill)
An Army veteran and aeroscout observer who served in Desert Storm, Corlett serves as a military liaison group coordinator for the Cincinnati Police Department.
The group’s mission is three-fold: to help all veterans they run into in the field, to train other first responders in how to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder and to recruit for the police department and for the city.
Corlett started the group about 3½ years ago to help other veterans after a call left him looking for answers one night.
At that time, he was a day-shift supervisor and answered a call for a deceased individual during the wintertime. They went to an abandoned apartment building, climbed up a ladder, went through a window and found a man who had frozen to death inside.
“The building was empty and abandoned, but it was his home. He had all of his military memorabilia hanging on the walls. He was an E5, a picture of him jumping out of a helicopter. And being a veteran, it kind of struck me as important, and I was trying to figure out how did he end up there by himself, when nobody knew that he lived there, freezing to death. And he wasn’t that old, probably in his late 50s, early 60s. So I started looking into what it was that caused guys to seclude [themselves] like that, and it was post-traumatic stress. That’s what it is,” Corlett says. “So I learned more about it. I went to some training, learned how to teach other people about it, and it’s just gotten bigger and bigger. Law enforcement across the country is struggling with ways to deal with the vets that are having trouble. So when we offer them solutions or try to get them more involved, it’s very well-received.”
When officers run into a veteran in the field, they bring the veteran to Corlett and he figures out where he or she needs to go. He works with the Cincinnati VA Medical Center and its director, Vivian Hudson. Corlett and Hudson know each other well. Not only do they meet every four months about the group, but he’s also a patient there.
Assistant Police Chief Paul Neudigate acknowledged he’s noticed improvements in how the police department works with veterans who need immediate help. A lieutenant colonel who served in the Ohio Army National Guard, Neudigate thinks the department is more enlightened about what some veterans may be going through now.
They also display their military support. Cincinnati police officers have a red stripe on their uniforms to denote military service, and some wear service pins. All veterans in Corlett's squad wear service pins on their uniforms.
“The last thing we want to do is just take a veteran … take them up for a mental health evaluation and walk away. No, let’s take that extra step, and that’s what we do now. Let’s find out exactly what that underlying issue is, put them in contact with the right services and make that lasting relationship,” Neudigate says. “You know, I think we’ve seen them [changes] on the police department side, but I also think we see it on the veteran’s side, where now they have those contacts in the police department that they can call if they’re having issues or know another veteran out there that’s having issues instead of just calling 911 and getting a random officer that just shows up that may not be attuned to what the situation is, Dave or one of his other military liaison officers, they’re going to show up and make those contacts because veterans know veteran-speak. And it’s easy to let your guard down when you know someone else has been in the service of this country.”
Cincinnati Police Department Supports NVWG
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