My Capitol husband died of suicide. His death deserves a “duty” designation.


One year has passed since January 6th Attack on the US Capitol. My beloved husband, Howard “Howard” Leven Good, US Capitol Police Officer, I was on duty that day and continued to work almost 24 hours a day January 7, January 8, January 9 Sleep between shifts is minimal. Exhausted due to lack of sleep, her husband died on the night of January 9. Without the events of January 6th and the constant work schedule that followed, my husband would still be here.

Time is strange, as anyone who has made a loved one sad. It’s hard to believe we’re a year away from what happened that week. There is a moment when I feel like this happened yesterday. My sadness is that our family, including Howie’s brothers, have a polarized political environment, especially the demands on the first responders during the pandemic period, mental health and wellness.

Bureaucratism just cripples designation

One of the most difficult discoveries was the encounter with culture and bureaucracy around job assignments.If law enforcement officers commit suicide, they will be in the context of a serious incident and its aftermath, such as January 6th. Not subject to job designation..

USA TODAY Editorial Board: Capitol battles show why police deaths from suicide are a professional sacrifice

This is important. Because the specification is used by various entities, Those on the list of corrupt police officers For other kinds of memorials like Lying on the US Capitol To Types of benefits Their spouse and / or children will receive.

It is remarkable to know that the legal guidance and the administrative processes that accompany it clearly reflect the ongoing struggle of society to actually recognize the importance of mental health rather than words. There are things. Affected families are wondering why, with all the progress in our understanding. Mental health and trauma, Suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder Not reflected in the specification.. Simply put, the designation process enhances stigma and cannot recognize the impact of work-related stressors on mental health.

Howie and Serena Liebengood held in Veena, Virginia in October 2011.

Howie and Serena Liebengood held in Veena, Virginia in October 2011.

There are some Job designation policy, Through multiple entities, and they are generally aware that the nature of this work can have detrimental physical consequences.For example, in at least one of these policies, a police officer engages in extraordinary stressful or intense activities as part of an emergency response or training exercise, and the police officer heart attack, That is Was considered a professional death..

If Howie had a heart attack, he probably wouldn’t have fought to recognize his death and properly commemorate it.

USA TODAY Editorial Board: Police who died in suicide need to mourn after facing a battle at the U.S. Capitol

Unfortunately, this is not a special situation.Nationally, the risk of suicide for police officers 54% larger Generally more than among American workers.

There’s a lot to do to change that, and many have been paying attention to this issue and working for years to reduce stigma. As part of that effort, suicide-affected officers and families may find it worthwhile to consider the criteria used to determine “job designations.” We can now act to ensure a trauma-based system.

Time of real change, not courtesy

I recognize that there is greater debate about reform with police in this country. Focusing on structural changes regarding the importance of mental health and resilience for law enforcement is essential for all of us. We must make better efforts to protect the well-being of law enforcement agencies so that they can continue to protect our community.

What will happen next? Democracy can survive if the House of Representatives investigating the January 6 Parliamentary riots does the job.

Howie 15-year veteran of the US Capitol Police.. He was a 51-year-old husband, brother, uncle and an important friend to many. His ubiquitous smile reflected his warm, calm and compassionate personality. Howie’s work, loyalty to colleagues, family, and loved ones were clear. His dedication to Congress, our country, and service remains a lighthouse of light for his family and community, reminding us that relationships and people are of paramount importance.

I’m still picking up a piece of broken heart, but it can also make a positive difference to the institution that made Howie fail, not only because it’s right, but because it’s what Howie wanted. I am determined.

Dr. Serena McClam Liebengood is a radiologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the widow of the late US Capitol police officer Howie C. Liebengood.

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This article was originally published in USA TODAY: January 6 Parliamentary Police Officer Duties: My Husband Died of Suicide



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