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Camo Alert created to help find missing military members with mental illnesses

Posted at 6:42 PM, Jun 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-25 20:27:50-04

WACO, TX — Texas will soon send out statewide alerts to protect members of the military who go missing.

Similar to an Amber Alert or a Silver Alert, a Camo Alert will be activated when a member of the military with a mental illness disappears.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 833 into law late last month. It will take effect on Sept. 1.

At that time, when a veteran or active member of the military with a traumatic brain injury or PTSD goes missing, this specific alert will be sent out to make sure they're found safe.

According to the bill, the alert will be issued when a law enforcement agency believes the military member poses a threat to their health and safety or the safety of another person.

Sue Burdett-Robinson is the clinical program manager at the Veterans One Stop in Waco. She thinks the bill could potentially save lives.

She said about 90 percent of the people she sees on a daily basis suffer from PTSD or a traumatic brain injury. With all that they've gone through, Robinson said they need to be treated with a different level of care.

"The things that they experience are horrific, they really are, and we as therapists hear some of those realities that sometimes they can't share those things with their loved one," Burdett-Robinson said.

She said it's common for clients to want to be alone as they try to cope with their pain.

"They do isolate and withdraw and when things are overwhelming or a trigger has happened, fight, flight or freeze are normal instincts anyway and many of them will go off somewhere," Burdett-Robinson said.

Burdett-Robinson said many veterans choose to take a drive to clear their head. The problem is they sometimes take too long to get back or don't tell anyone where they're going.

But not every veteran is a fan of the alert because they don't want their personal information being shared.

"I know one of the concerns, even when they passed the law, was privacy. Invading privacy and going against the HIPPA laws," Burdett-Robinson. "The good thing about this is that it's an opt-in system. They a have a choice if they want to register or not."

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) will be required to develop and implement the alert in cooperation with TxDOT, the office of the governor and the appropriate state law enforcement agencies.