DALLAS — Rodney Bennett served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. After defending our country's freedom, he returned home only to be told he cannot return to his job as a police officer with Dallas Independent School District.
Bennett joined the Texas National Guard at the age of 19.
"I had an uncle who served in the military, so I always wanted to do my part," he said.
Bennett drilled on the weekends and built a life in Dallas that included children, and a job he loved as a police officer at Dallas ISD.
"You have to have a willingness to help," he said. "It can be trying at times, but it has its rewards."
Six years ago, Bennett was called to active duty in Afghanistan. "It was scary; I was scared," he said.
Bennett came home about a year later and was called to serve again in 2007.
"It was trying, because Afghanistan proved to be kind of dangerous, and now they were sending me to Iraq," Bennett said. "I was just hoping my luck would hold out."
Bennett returned two years later, ready to return to his old life. But he learned it would never be the same.
"They had a different outlook on a soldier returning back from war," Bennett claimed.
Bennett said Dallas ISD no longer wanted him to be a police officer. Last August, Rodney Bennett was fired because he would not accept a demotion to be a dispatcher.
"They said people who return back from war usually return with some sort of problems, disorders... and since I've been gone to both Iraq and Afghanistan, I'm more likely to have some sort of problem or disorder," Bennett said.
"It appeared to be discrimination against a service member based up on the fact he was a service member," said Bob Goodman, Bennett’s attorney.
This week, Bennett filed a lawsuit to get his job back.
Dallas ISD would only say the case is now in the hands of the courts.
Bennett declined to discuss specifics of his current health. He does tell News 8 he has sought treatment from Veterans Affairs.
A new study showed as many as two out of 10 soldiers returned from combat in Iraq will be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The National Center for Combat and Operation Stress Control wanted to know if a veteran could go into law enforcement after being diagnosed with a disorder. Twelve agencies were contacted. Half said there is no automatic disqualifier for PTSD.
Most agencies have no specific protocols for evaluating the disorder. If an applicant is not experiencing debilitating symptoms, they would be considered for employment.