FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Sept. 28, 2022) — “I’ve always been told, even prior to working in law enforcement, that if you have a gut feeling, you need to trust it,” said Brittany Marsh, a police officer with Fort Leonard Wood’s Directorate of Emergency Services.
Marsh recently trusted her “gut feeling” that something wasn’t right — and it paid off, when she came to the rescue of a retiree living on post, most likely saving her life.
The story begins on a Friday. Marsh was dispatched to the retiree’s home due to reports of a loud argument. Marsh said DES had been called to the residence a couple of times prior — the retiree required a caretaker, and there were apparently some disagreements about who should fill the role.
As they were leaving, Marsh said she and her partner left the retiree in her bedroom.
“Saturday, I came into work, and I started to get that inkling that something wasn’t right,” she said, knowing the retiree’s extended family was supposed to be en route. “Sunday rolled around, and I came on shift and told my supervisor before I got started on any of my security checks that I was going to essentially self-dispatch myself out to the residence because it didn’t feel right.”
When Marsh and another police officer arrived, they knocked on the door and heard what sounded like wailing or screaming.
“I went around the entire bedroom on the exterior of the home to try to see where was the closest place — the most clear position I could hear her,” Marsh said. “I knocked on the siding, and I announced myself. ‘It’s Officer Marsh, ma’am. Do you hear me?’ I could still hear the screaming.”
Finally, the officers heard the resident say, “Help me! Help me!” There was an open window, and Marsh climbed through. They found the retiree on the floor of her bathroom.
“By the looks of the bathroom, I would presume she had been there for about two days — the day I had left,” Marsh said. “At some point, she had hit her face. One of her eyes was swollen shut. She was unable to do anything. I feel like had I not responded there Sunday, there would not be any further days for her.”
The retiree was treated for her injuries, and Marsh said the woman is now residing in an assisted-living facility for veterans.
“The previous times I had dealt with her, she had made it very clear she did not want to go to any hospital,” Marsh said. “She declined medical multiple times. This time, it was like she decided to quit being stubborn, for lack of a better word. I’m so, so thankful that she was still responsive and was able to let us know she was indeed in distress and needed help. She said thank you to me.”
The retiree was just the first person to thank Marsh for her exceptional service — senior leaders from across the installation have pointed to Marsh’s actions as an example of what right looks like in policing a community.
“It’s nice to have the recognition from the extreme higher ups,” Marsh said. “It’s our duty to police the community within the jurisdiction of Fort Leonard Wood — and assist, protect and defend — but to have the higher ups acknowledge what we deal with, or what we potentially deal with in the line of duty is huge in my eyes. They have busy schedules; they’re dealing with the entire installation, so to take a moment to check on someone who’s lower on the totem pole is remarkable to me. I was a little taken back by it.”
Marsh, originally from Calhoun, Georgia, came to Fort Leonard Wood about four years ago with her husband, a Military Police Soldier currently assigned to the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence NCO Academy. She also served in the Army as a Blackhawk helicopter mechanic for two years, and met her husband when they were both stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Before finding her position with DES, Marsh worked in law enforcement for Pulaski County — first, at the county jail, then as a deputy sheriff. She still holds a reserve commission with the county.
“I’ve always been passionate about law enforcement,” she said. “I am someone who always wants to help people.”
When Marsh was presented with the opportunity to work on post about a year ago, she said she couldn’t pass it up.
“Having served in the military, I wanted that feeling of camaraderie and close-knit family,” she said. “Working on the installation and dealing with service members allows me to feel that.”
Marsh’s supervisor, Anthony Dippel, has worked at DES for 10 years. He said he’s “just happy to have her on the team.”
“She has a very energetic charisma,” he said. “The way she interacts with the public draws people to her in a positive light. Between that, and her knowledgeable background coming from other agencies, she’s an asset to Fort Leonard Wood.”
Marsh said law enforcement work allows her to do something she truly enjoys — engaging with the community.
“I like for our population and our society to realize there are individuals out there policing the community who are positive and engaging and reinforce good traits and good habits,” she said.
As for her life-saving intuition, Marsh said no one should assume they know what is going on in someone else’s life.
“Don’t be scared to engage and build a rapport with someone,” she advised.
About Fort Leonard Wood
Fort Leonard Wood is a thriving and prosperous installation that has evolved from a small basic training post 80 years ago to a premier Army Center of Excellence that trains nearly 80,000 military and civilians each year.
Fort Leonard Wood is home to the U.S Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and three U.S. Army schools: the U.S. Army Engineer School; U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School; and the U.S. Army Military Police School. In addition to training engineer, CBRN and military police specialties for the Army, Fort Leonard Wood also provides gender-integrated in-processing and Basic Combat Training for new Soldiers.
Fort Leonard Wood also hosts and trains with the largest Marine Corps Detachment and Air Force Squadron on any Army installation as well as a large Navy construction detachment.
More information about Fort Leonard Wood is at: https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/about/mission