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  • disabled veteran and local law enforcement

    Hello all,

    I served in the Army for a short time of 5 years as a dentist. Unfortunately, I was injured, rated at 100% by the VA. I am no longer able to practice dentistry due to neck issues and considering different career options. I have done physical therapy diligently and my health condition has improved significantly. I wanted to become a cop as a kid and now am wondering if it still would be a possibility. Thanks

    Josh

  • #2
    The short version is that the answer will vary from agency to agency and what their specific physical requirements are. A VA disability rating is not necessarily a show-stopper. You should be aware, however, that back and neck issues are common in policing and medical and physical fitness testing will likely look for potential problems.

    I wish you good luck.
    John from Maryland

    Comment


    • #3
      Many depts see VA ratings as a liability, and to my knowledge do NOT have to hire you. I was denied a few times due to PTSD. You COULD get on with Federal 0083s (DoD) as they love veterans, but it depends on your rating and if you can perform the basic duties (plus, remember, you'll have to wear body armor and a previous injury will get aggravated). I had injured my back in 08 in Iraq, then in 14, finally became a DoD cop and last Oct, injured it again (wearing body armor). Turns out a fractured my spine and have lost cartilage, so I was reclassified to Dispatcher. Total of 50% disabled, VA
      Former Police Officer (Injured LOD)
      USAF VETERAN 2004-2012
      "The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day."-LTC Grossman
      Emergency Services Dispatcher, APG MD

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      • #4
        Why can’t you practice dentistry any more? What stops you?
        Now go home and get your shine box!

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Josh,

          Here are the problems you are going to run into –

          Police work can be extremely physical and an inordinate number of disabling injuries and disability retirements are based on back and neck injuries.

          Many state’s workers compensation laws have a provision stating that if a preexisting injury is exacerbated as much as 1% by a new injury, the current employer becomes liable not only for current medical treatment of that injury, but to provide lifetime medical care as well. Thus, were you slightly reinjured, the police department would be responsible for paying for medical care, for the rest of your life, that is the VA’s responsibility. Most agencies see that as having to shoulder an unreasonable burden.

          An existing injury of your nature makes an applicant more prone to suffering a disabling injury that will result in costly disability retirement for which the employer must pick up the tab. Again, most police agencies see that as having to shoulder an unreasonable burden.

          These are California’s standards regarding ortho issues http://lib.post.ca.gov/Publications/Musculo.pdf

          While they are one state’s policies, the medical principles and logic behind them do not stop at the state line and you will find that most other states follow similar rules.

          Print them out, send them to your ortho doc, ask him to review them and ask him to pretend he is the police department’s physician who is being paid to look after their best interests and not yours. Then ask him if, based on those standards and knowing what he does about your condition, he would approve you for hiring. That will give you a ballpark idea as to where you stand.
          Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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          • #6
            Never say never...I recall seeing an episode of COPS (maybe?) that followed an officer with a prosthetic leg. Some dude ran from him and, after the officer caught him, he said to the offender, "You just lost a footrace against a one-legged man; how does that feel?"

            I agree that you may get the most traction with some of the federal agencies, as they appear to be very vet-friendly. You may want to focus on those where your background/familiarity with medicine or the military could be a bonus, like the DEA, VA Police, NCIS, FDA-OCI, etc.

            Also, I don't know what your flexibility is for moving, but there are areas of the country that are desperate for applicants, so agencies in those areas may be more willing to work with stuff that would rule you out in places where departments don't have to recruit so hard.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by orangebottle View Post
              Never say never...I recall seeing an episode of COPS (maybe?) that followed an officer with a prosthetic leg. Some dude ran from him and, after the officer caught him, he said to the offender, "You just lost a footrace against a one-legged man; how does that feel?"
              I believe that was also an officer who lost his leg on duty.................not hired with the prosthetic .

              I do, however remember seeing recently of an officer HIRED with a prosthetic ..............

              That being said I can't see an agency who is going to hire someone with back / neck problems knowing the number of officers who have been retired with those types of injuries .
              Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

              My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

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              • #8
                Would you care to explain why you feel you can no longer be a dentist, but want law enforcement...Police work is far more physical than dental profession.
                Retired LASD

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                • #9
                  OP, aren't you concerned with your disability rating being reduced?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Retired96 View Post
                    Would you care to explain why you feel you can no longer be a dentist, but want law enforcement...Police work is far more physical than dental profession.
                    My point exactly. How can you not be able to function as a dentist, but can as a Police?
                    Now go home and get your shine box!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I appreciate everyone's answers. Thank you. Dentistry involves static, head down position for 8 hours a day which is what kills my neck. The same with the back- prolonged static hunched over position, a bit better with improved technology and ergonomics. I had no problem practicing dentistry until the back injury in 2014. Time has passed, and I have recovered quite a bit and I can move. However, long periods of static head down looking into mouths aggravates it.

                      I have experience working as a language analyst for a federal agency prior to military, if that makes any difference. I am considering alternative careers but always have had the dream of becoming a cop deep inside. Again thanks everyone.
                      Last edited by Eunho1520; 06-13-2019, 04:51 PM.

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                      • westside popo
                        westside popo commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I got back problems too and the last academy I went through, I suffered through it. I wouldn't recommend it if you have a disability rating for your back. Good luck.

                    • #12
                      You won’t be able to function. The DT training in the academy alone will re injure your back and neck. Sitting in a car, 20 lbs of gear on your waist, body armor, etc, running, jumping, fighting...how can you do that?
                      Now go home and get your shine box!

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Originally posted by Eunho1520 View Post
                        Hello all,

                        I served in the Army for a short time of 5 years as a dentist. Unfortunately, I was injured, rated at 100% by the VA. I am no longer able to practice dentistry due to neck issues and considering different career options. I have done physical therapy diligently and my health condition has improved significantly. I wanted to become a cop as a kid and now am wondering if it still would be a possibility. Thanks

                        Josh
                        I don't see how you could possibly get through an Academy, much less actually patrol. The duty belt alone will aggravate the condition you describe. Most police I know hurt their back and or neck at some point in their career and don't begin with a severe injury.

                        The VA has given you a 100% rating based on what is probably an O-3 pay scale. Have you considered contributing your time doing some kind of volunteer work? You need to take care of your back--it has to last you what I hope are a few more decades of life.

                        Comment

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