Army Vet Sues Sheriff's Office For Firing Him Over PTSD

The former deputy's lawyer, Kevin Costello, says his client served six tours in the U.S. Army before joining the force.

Woodbury, NJ – A former Gloucester County sheriff’s deputy has filed a lawsuit alleging that the county discriminated against him by firing him due to his post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis.

U.S. Army veteran John McMickle served six tours before he was honorably discharged in 2006, his attorney, Kevin Costello, told NJ.com.

McMickle joined the Gloucester County Sheriff’s Office in February of 2015, Costello said.

When one of his friends passed away in February of 2017, then-Deputy McMickle took the news hard, his attorney explained.

Although he didn’t generally consume alcohol, Deputy McMickle downed multiple drinks that night and eventually wound up at a hospital, NJ.com reported.

Costello refused to provide further details regarding the incident itself.

After Deputy McMickle’s visit to the hospital, officers conducted a welfare check on him.

“No issues were identified,” during that contact, but police removed the deputy’s firearm and ammunition from his residence, NJ.com reported.

The department subsequently placed Deputy McMickle on medical leave and told him he could return to his duties as a deputy on the condition that he successfully complete a 30-day inpatient treatment program at Warrior’s Heart.

The facility, which is located in Texas, provides “chemical dependency, alcohol abuse, and co-occurring psychological disorders related to PTSD…or the psychological effects of…mild traumatic brain injury,” according to their website.

The program is only available to “active military, veterans, firefighters, police, EMTs” and other public servants who “protect and serve the citizens of the United States,” the Warrior’s Heart website read.

Deputy McMickle successfully completed the program and was given a doctor’s clearance to return to work, NJ.com reported.

However, Gloucester County Sheriff’s personnel wanted him to complete a second evaluation – using an in-state mental health professional – before they would allow him to come back to work.

The deputy complied with their request, but the second evaluator did not clear him to return to duty.

Deputy McMickle was subsequently fired by the sheriff’s office in October of 2017 – an action that his lawsuit claims violated both the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act of 1994, NJ.com reported.

McMickle has requested that the court order the Gloucester County Sheriff’s Office to end discriminatory practices against him and to implement changes to protect deputies in similar situations in the future.

"In sum, plaintiff has been punished for his service in the military and/or on account of his disability,” the suit read, according to NJ.com.

He also wants his job back and is seeking payment for benefits and lost wages.

Comments
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61mouse
61mouse

@ riverroad he did everything that was asked from and if you don't think that NJ doctor wasn't told not to deem him safe , I now understand you stupid ass comment . That's no different then getting hurt on the job and a REAL DOCTOR says you can't work , but some quake working for the company saying you can work .

LordSeamus
LordSeamus

I'm a retired LEO, Co and EMT.....do I have PTSD ? Hell yes. Have I learned to cope? Again, hell yes. I cope with fireworks, loud noises, loud mouth drunks etc etc. I also fully support this deputy for this.

Mrs10
Mrs10

Way to stand up for himself and for other vets. It would be different if the PTSD (or any condition medical or psychological) caused him to not be functional on the job. If the only incident he had was getting plowed off-duty then I hope he cleans them out. There's always a chance we'll later learn a different view of events but for now with these facts my praise stands.

fedupveteran
fedupveteran

Good for him, I pray he wins his suit. riverroad, please enlighten us as to the experiences you have had. I saw nowhere in the article where "couldn't cope" until his friend passed away. He drank, he went to the rehab, successfully completed that, and was cleared but the sheriff's office set him up to fail by sending to someone they knew would take their viewpoint and he got fired because of it. And since he has not flipped out and done something outrageous after being given the shaft, sounds to me like he is coping very well. Well enough to be smart enough to stand up for himself AND fellow deputies in the lawsuit.

riverroad
riverroad

PTSD is as difficult to diagnose as a back injury. Seriously, who does not have PTSD these days. I am certain many vets and officers have witnessed horrific scenes that haunt them, but what makes one person become "disfunctional" while others learn to cope with the traumas. Sorry if you can not cope, you should not be on the force. this is not discrimination. this is public safety.

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