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Fayetteville Police Ready To Silence Sirens For Veterans In Crisis

A picture of lights on a police car.
Alejandro Mejía Greene/JubiloHaku
Flickr Creative Commons

Police and community leaders in Fayetteville are working on a local incarnation of the Silent Siren program to help veterans in an emergency.

Fayetteville police responded last week to a call from a woman whose husband, a soldier, was parked outside a Walmart threatening to kill himself. Police approached the stand off without lights, sirens and shouting.  They were able get the soldier help.

Fayetteville wants to expand that gentle approach for emergencies involving veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or traumatic brain injury.

John Bigger oversees mental health for Southern Regional Area Health Education Center.  He's working with police and community leaders to set up a local chapter of Silent Siren.

The program encourages those veterans to register with the city. Then, if 9-1-1 needs to respond to their residences, first responders will know to turn off sirens and flashing lights.

“Our soldiers are just like you and me,” Bigger said. “If we are exposed to something traumatic, chances are we could ... develop that same level of PTSD. Their chances of the exposure are the main thing that's higher, and that's through their deployments.”

Bigger pointed out that PTSD and traumatic brain injuries are not limited to veterans. He said he hopes the Silent Siren registry will expand to serve others in the community as well.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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