A proposal at the State Capitol would train emergency responders in how to communicate with military veterans in crisis.
Studies show military veterans can be at risk for post traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues.
Wayne Shellum, services director for the Upper Midwest Community Policing Institute, said veterans in this situation require sensitivity from police to de-escalate confrontations.
"Public safety is coming in contact with veterans who are in crisis in one way, shape or form," Shellum said. "We feel it's an officer safety issue due to the fact that many of these service members have extensive training in offensive tactics and defensive tactics, much more training than law enforcement."
The training would be based on a pilot program developed and tested in Minnesota several years ago. Since then, the program has trained law enforcement across the U.S. to diffuse crisis situations without the use of force.
Shellum said police face dangerous challenges in dealing with struggling veterans.
"We believe that the officers need the training to understand the use of force, understand that they need to protect themselves, and understand also that there are ways, communication techniques and identification techniques that may serve them well in order to avert a use-of-force situation and to protect themselves," he said.
Shellum's group is seeking $200,000 over two years, $100,000 in fiscal year 2014 and $100,000 in fiscal year 2015, to expand the program across the state.
The training would also educate law enforcement about women veterans' unique challenges. There are more than 20,000 women veterans in Minnesota. Veterans Affairs estimates at least a third were sexually assaulted while in the service.