This I Believe

Daniel - Santa Maria, California
Entered on July 6, 2007

I believe

I believe in counseling, both psychologically and spiritually, that helped me tremendously to return to normal life after I was traumatized on the job.

Following my separation from the United States Army, I went to work for the Texas Department of Corrections as a correctional officer. A year later, I joined the Texas prisons’ elite team or SORT (Special Operations Response Team). Our job was to respond to any emergency situations, such as inmate riots, fights, assaults, strikes, etc. Each day, all SORT members took part in physical training, firearms training, force cell move training, use of force training, building entry training, etc. The programs motivated me tremendously, which made me mentally and physically fit. At this time in my career, I believed that I could handle anything that came my way.

After more than four years at Texas Department of Corrections, I moved to Lompoc, California to work for the Federal Bureau of Prisons as a correctional officer. After several years, I was promoted to Lieutenant, which meant I would have more responsibilitites. This is a position that I still hold today. One of my responsibilities is to insure the safety of all correctional officers and inmates on my watch. One day, while I was working in the “hole”, I made a bad decision. As a result, three of the correctional officers were assaulted by one inmate. The inmate attacked all three, stabbing them with a homemade weapon. While I was ensuring that my officers were well, they fell to the floor unconscious. I thought they were dead. They were immediately transported to Lompoc Community Hospital where they were medically treated. They survived.

Following the incident, I was traumatized. I could not eat. When I was in bed, I could not sleep because I was thinking about what had happened to my officers. I blamed myself because I was an incompetent supervisor. When I went to work, I was scared of inmates. When I was home, I shouted at my children for no reason. My childen cried and stayed away from me. I felt awful. At this point, I realized that I needed help. I needed profession counseling. I believed in my heart that counseling would help me to overcome or conquer my trauma and fear.

I began seeing a psychologist. I saw him two or three times a week. Additionally, I saw a prison chaplain once or twice a week. After several weeks of counseling, both psychologically and spiritually, I began engaging and communicating with my children and wife in a positive manner, wich in turn made them very happy. However, I did not stop seeing the psychologist and the chaplain until I was fully recovered. Then, I was able to eat and sleep. When I went to work, my fear of inmates disappeared. I overcame my trauma and fear, and I ceased blaming myself. Additionally, my attitude toward my children changed tremendously. Becaue I believe in counseling, I saved my family, my job, and returned to being a normal person.