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April 6, 2012

MHP Col. Tooley Proposes National Resolution to Assist Returning Veterans

Montana Highway Patrol Col. Mike Tooley last week successfully introduced a resolution calling for the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Department of Defense to assist law enforcement officers who return from combat duty suffering from physical or mental disabilities so severe that they are unable to carry out any duties in the agency for which they formerly worked.

Col. Tooley presented the resolution “Resolution Seeking Assistance to Resolve Reintegration Issues with Certain Veterans” to the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) State and Provincial Police Division at the group’s mid-year meeting in Alexandria, VA on March 29.

The resolution notes that nationwide, more than 12,000 law enforcement officers from federal, state, local and tribal agencies have served overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan with their National Guard and military reserve units.  A significant percentage of these men and women are returning with traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their service.

“Our nation’s troopers and other law enforcement officers are eager to serve their country, so it’s not surprising that many of the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan come home to jobs in law enforcement,” Tooley said.  “As a nation, we owe these men and women our thanks, and that means looking after them appropriately when they return home.”

Tooley’s resolution calls on DOD and DVA to “work together with law enforcement agencies to address appropriately the limited situations in which returning veterans, through no fault of their own, are unable to be effectively reintegrated into law enforcement agencies.”

“In some cases, these veterans simply are not capable of returning to a job in law enforcement, but they – and agencies like the Highway Patrol – are caught in limbo because the Department of Defense is reluctant to classify them as disabled,” Attorney General Bullock said.  “That is simply not good enough.”

The resolution will be voted on by IACP’s 15,000 members in September.  If it passes at that time, as is expected, it will become one of the Association’s top priorities.