The Texas prison system experienced a staggering 28% turnover in prison guards last year, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The strong Texas economy, un-air conditioned prisons, and having to deal with unruly inmates all day are given as reasons for the large number of guards leaving their posts, but a new study in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine provides another possible cause.
It says PTSD is as prevalent among prison guards as it is among war veterans.
"They talk about the lack of sleep as being the major symptoms that have been found (among prison guards)," said Dr. Harry Croft, a prominent San Antonio psychiatrist who is one of the country's leading experts on PTSD.
"We certainly see poor sleep in PTSD patients."
The study comes as the Bexar County Sheriff announced that it is going to start hiring 18 year olds to become 'blue shirt' cadets, working in the Bexar County Jail.
Croft says the key is to make sure that the risk of PTSD is recognized in professions, so strategies to avoid is can be taught during training.
"I think we need to look at the impact of being a prison guard, because we really need prison guards," he said.
Officials worry that with more than one quarter of its work force leaving each year, the Texas prison system will be increasingly unable to meet the demands of watching the state's prison population.
IMAGE: GETTY IMAGES