OSHKOSH, Wis. — Marty Adcock has been carrying a gun since he was 17.
First, he served as a Marine right out of high school. And later, he served as a police officer — both midnight patrol and SWAT.
"To say that you had a problem was just not something you did," said Adcock, talking about his early days on the force in Texas. "We called it going on the rubber gun squad. You'd end up on desk duty or something to that extent."
However, he said today's police departments do much better with mental health.
Adcock spoke with TMJ4 Wednesday on the sidelines of the fifth annual Active Threat Integrated Response Conference in Oshkosh.
He sat in on an incident debrief for law enforcement across the state about an event that's very personal to him — the 2018 shooting at Sante Fe High School. A student shot and killed eight students and two teachers.
Adcock retired from the League City Police Department — just 12 miles from Sante Fe — about five months before the shooting.
"Friends of mine that I'd know for years, that responded [into the school], were different people for a long time than I had known prior to the incident going down," said Adcock.
Many, he said, struggled with questions, such as: did I get there quickly enough? Could I have done more?
"But when it's happening to your community, it's never truly reconciled," he said.
The officers in Uvalde, according to Adcock, are grappling with the same questions.
"Right now, they're going through post-incident trauma. That's nothing that any of us can imagine," he said.
Adcock is now the Midwest regional manager for the ALLERT Center at Texas State University, which offers active shooter response training nationwide.
ALERRT recently held a webinar on mental health and resiliency for first responders.
"We do talk about it and how you're not going to be comfortable with your response initially," he said. "You're not going to feel, like, maybe you did everything that you could do. But it is okay to not be okay. It is okay to realize that you're not okay."
An important step, he said, is to make sure you can stay on the job.
"You have to take care of yourself mentally, because you can't let that event stop you from helping the next person who needs help."