News: USARAK Leaders learn more about post-traumatic stress
Story by Maj. Joel Anderson
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Senior leaders from throughout USARAK had an opportunity to experience some insight on the warning signs and pitfalls of post-traumatic stress from a highly respected expert in the field.
Well-known motivational speaker, post-traumatic stress expert, National Basketball Association referee, and former New Jersey State Policeman, Bob Delaney traveled to the “Last Frontier” last week to offer insight and guidance on the warning signs and ways to work toward overcoming post-traumatic stress.
During the mid-1970s, Delaney worked undercover as part of an operation known as "Project Alpha."
Project Alpha investigated organized crime syndicates in the state of New Jersey. Delaney and other undercover officers posed as businessmen in the trucking industry trying to get out from under the pressures of union interests.
Delaney assumed an identity for his protection, the identity that of "Bobby Covert," which was the name of a an actual New Jersey boy who had died at birth.
Delaney had to maintain his cover profile as a reputable business owner and keep in mind his primary responsibility as a police officer. Eventually, the mobsters or “Wiseguys” whom Delaney had infiltrated nicknamed him "Bobby Smash."
Soon after the end of Delaney’s undercover operation, he began to have the same symptoms of post-traumatic stress as soldiers returning from combat.
This was due to the fact that he had been in very similar situation…facing possible death on a daily basis for extended periods and always having to keep his guard up.
This was due to by remaining undercover for long periods and conducting operations that had they come to the knowledge of syndicate members placed Delaney in tremendous danger, it would have meant certain death or the outright example making execution of Delaney as a warning to other potential snitches, especially due to the fact that he wore a wire – actually two small microphones rigged up in his armpits and hooked to a tape recorder on his body for the majority of time.
“I grew up playing sports, so I was used to wearing a [protective] cup, so that was how I rigged my tape recorder – down there,” Delaney recounted.
Over time, Delaney received professional help, but as importantly, if not more so, he also was able to benefit from peer-to-peer, or P2P counseling.
Although commonly known as post-traumatic stress disorder, Delaney stresses dropping the “D”. “Afterall,” as he says, “who wants to talk to someone or associate with someone who’s just been diagnosed with a ‘disorder’…we just don’t need to bring in that stigma, so I just call it PTS… post-traumatic stress.”
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, in 2009, Delaney traveled to Iraq at the invitation of then-Brig. Gen. Robert Brown, who was the 25th Infantry Division Assistant Division Commander for Support.
At this point of the war in Iraq, 25th ID had deployed their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd brigades, or 75 percent of the division.
Delaney provided much-needed inspiration and motivation to 25th soldiers from all of its brigades serving throughout Iraq.
Delaney retired as a law enforcement officer quite some time ago and went on to devote himself full time to becoming a professional basketball referee for the National Basketball Association. In 2008, Delaney wrote about his undercover experience in "Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob."
He has also completed a Master of Arts degree in Leadership from Saint Mary's College of California.
Delaney was able to experience firsthand some of the natural beauty of Alaska while in the Fort. Wainwright-Fairbanks area.
“I was really lucky…Col. Freitag and a couple of the guys from his staff took me out on their ATVs and we had a really great time,” Delaney said.
“I can’t wait to get back up here and see more of it. I just don’t plan to do it in the winter. It doesn’t get as cold in Jersey as it does up here,” he quipped.
Delaney closed by saying, “I can’t stress enough how important it is for ‘youse-guys’ to look out for each other and work as a team because now that we have so many troops returning from deployment, we have a new enemy to watch out for…PTS!”
The appearance of Bob Delaney was the latest installment in the Commanding General’s Leadership Development Program.
One thing is for certain, USARAK soldiers and leaders will now be much more prepared to face the PTS challenge and they’re ready to welcome Bob Delaney back any time he can return.