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June 12, 1996

Postal Service Tries to Reverse Violent Image Through Employee Assistance and Team Approach

JAMA. 1996;275(22):1710-1711. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530460014005

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A FEW YEARS AGO, the term "going postal" had little to do with buying stamps or mailing letters.

The phrase became synonymous with uncontrolled rage after 11 disgruntled postal employees or former employees shot and killed 35 supervisors and co-workers during a 12-year span at postal facilities across the country. In the past 2 years, however, US Postal Service officials say they've tried to take the offensive against workplace violence with new approaches that shift from reactive, security-driven responses to violence prevention and proactive responses to threats.

During this year's American Occupational Health Conference in San Antonio, Tex, a panel of postal officals discussed their agency's development of response and assessment teams and the evolution of its Program for Alcohol Recovery into a comprehensive employee assistance program (EAP).

The efforts have been 2 years in the making, said David H. Reid III, MD, the postal service's national medical director. "We