by Scott Taylor
London Free Press (Canada)
The veteran Ottawa police officer had reached the end of his tether. After nearly 25 years on the force in many different capacities, he had seen enough.
“One day, it just hit me and I couldn’t do it anymore,” said Peter Platt. “I was working the night shift in October 1992, I started feeling suicidal and I called my sergeant. He called me into the station and after that I went home and I never went back. That was it.” It was a dark time. “I didn’t cope too well,” he said.
Many cops and even more soldiers understand what Platt deals with every day. He experiences nightmares, panic and anxiety attacks, and depression, along with various physical disabilities.
It hasn’t been easy, but something that has helped him immeasurably has been man’s best friend. When he had his previous dog Choya, Platt found out about a program being run in Ottawa by a woman named Miriam Mas, called Canines for a Cause. In short, the program trained dogs to help people dealing with mobility issues, but she agreed to work with Choya for PTSD.
Platt and Choya were inseparable. In fact, obedience classes were Platt’s first social activities after leaving his job. Following Choya’s death in 2009, he was paired up with Kiche, who has been trained to assist Platt in many ways. Kiche can find the front door if Platt panics or becomes disoriented and needs to leave a building, such as a Wal-Mart, even if they’re in the rear of the store. He pushes the button to open automatic doors, he barks if Platt needs help, carries bags and can even help Platt find his van if he’s lost in a parking lot.
The reason Platt is sharing his story is because of the wave of Canadian soldiers coming home after being stationed in Afghanistan. Countless soldiers will battle PTSD and they, too, will benefit from service dogs like Kiche.
He’s now a volunteer peer helper with OSISS (Operational Stress Injury Social Support), a peer-support network assisting soldiers dealing with operational stress injuries. The group hopes to convince senior officers in the Department of National Defense and Veterans Affairs to expand the program to allow more soldiers the chance to overcome their PTSD.
“It’s an addition to medical assistance to soldiers with PTSD,” Platt said. “It’s not for everybody and you have to be in for the long haul because you can’t just train a dog and then walk away from him. But it could help a lot of people.”
About Peter Platt: Peter is a 25 year veteran of the Ottawa Police Service who was severely disabled with PTSD in 1992. In 2005, he joined a registered charitable service dog training organization in Ottawa and, from 2006 through to December 2009, he was a board member and Director of Client Services, Disabilities Advisor and an advocate for persons with disabilities. In 2008/2009, he gave presentations to a trauma councillor’s class at local college about PTSD. In March 2009 he started working with Veterans Affairs Canada, Operational Stress Injury Social Support as a trained volunteer peer helper & group facilitator for veterans with PTSD. In January 2010, Peter became volunteer Disabilities Advisor of the new Assistance Dogs Division of Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind. In December 2010 he also became a volunteer for the Military Family Resource Center in Ottawa. Peter is a proud member of the Ontario Police Association, Ottawa Police Association and the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners. Peter believes all police agencies in the country should have the resources readily available to help officers who have become disabled with PTSD. As well, to assist officers who develop PTSD subsequent to their retirement. Peter is Editor and Founder of the Badge of Life Canada.
Badge of Life Canada is partnered with the Badge of Life in the USA and is dedicated to the education of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) & The Prevention of Police Officer Suicide.
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