Waco research facility takes aim at PTSD in first responders, veterans

 By Grant Hermes News 25

Doctors at the Warrior Research Institute (WRI) said they’ve seen a clear link between traumatic situations experienced by first responders and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), similar to the way veterans develop the disorder.

According to the institute’s director, Dr. Suzy Bird Gulliver, between nine and 13 percent of firefighters experience some form of PTSD on the job. Gulliver focuses primarily on veterans and firefighters, although said the research at WRI, in partnership with Baylor Scott and White healthcare, has begun to expand to police officers and paramedics.

Gulliver has worked with dozens of groups of veterans ranging from World War II to the most recent campaigns in the Middle East. She said the need for the research among firefighters was born out of working with firefighters that responded to Ground Zero during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Her work with the military alerted her to the similarities, and differences, among first responders and veterans.

“Most active military members work in a cohort that’s tightly together, most firefighters work tightly together,” Gulliver said, adding there’s also a stigma of machismo [sic] surrounding both institutions.

“One traumatic event could traumatize one person and not traumatize anyone else in the unit,” Gulliver said. “So, we don’t understand particularly well why that is and we’d like to understand [it].”

Currently WRI has nearly $1.5 million in research grants with more expected in the coming fiscal year. The institute offers several counseling options for veterans and first responders as well as their families.

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