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The gravity of PTSD

Dennis Flynn, the Commerce City, Colorado Police Department Commander, provides an impactful presentation about PTSD to Airmen during the Enlisted Leadership Symposium, Jul. 25, at Youngstown-Warren Air Reserve Station in Vienna, Ohio. Flynn brought a unique perspective to the table because he worked as a hostage negotiator for several years where he encountered veterans suffering from PTSD firsthand.

Dennis Flynn, the Commerce City, Colorado Police Department Commander, provides an impactful presentation about PTSD to Airmen during the Enlisted Leadership Symposium, Jul. 25, at Youngstown-Warren Air Reserve Station in Vienna, Ohio. Flynn brought a unique perspective to the table because he worked as a hostage negotiator for several years where he encountered veterans suffering from PTSD firsthand. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rachel Simones)

VIENNA, Ohio --

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a critical issue for military organizations. Learning to understand PTSD and find ways to overcome it is crucial for mission success.

Dennis Flynn, the Commerce City, Colo. Police Department Commander, provided an impactful presentation about PTSD to Airmen during the Enlisted Leadership Symposium, Jul. 25, at Youngstown-Warren Air Reserve Station in Vienna, Ohio.

“It’s a very, very real issue,” said Flynn. “We need to all have the courage to step up and engage with those that are hurting.”

Flynn brought a unique perspective to the table because he worked as a hostage negotiator for several years where he encountered veterans suffering from PTSD firsthand.

“Being a negotiator for a long time, we are very familiar with how post-traumatic stress disorder can affect those in the military,” said Flynn.

Flynn shared his experiences and highlighted what Airmen can do to support their Wingmen who may be struggling with PTSD or showing signs of emotional distress.

“Most people don’t know what to say, and they don’t know how to talk to those affected by it because it can be uncomfortable,” said Flynn. “But all of us together have that chance to make it better.”

Flynn’s own son wrestled with PTSD after his time in the U.S. Marine Corps. He ended up taking his own life as a result of the internal struggles that he faced. Flynn’s heartbreaking experience lead him to teach people about ways that they can help others feel whole again.

“The day prior to Dennis coming in was actually the one-year anniversary to me losing my best friend to suicide,” said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Lipian, an aviation resource manager with the 179th Airlift Wing, “It was comforting to know that I wasn’t alone in my feelings of disappointment that I hadn’t noticed the signs of suicide in one of my own friends.”

Flynn’s personal story had a strong emotional impact on Airmen; it taught them to take the time to listen to one another and seek support when needed. This interactive presentation helped Airmen recognize the gravity of PTSD and its potentially tragic effect.

 “Dennis’s speech helped me heal a scar that I have had for a long time,” said Lipian.