Emergency director says alcohol and PTSD led to resignation

Published 1:33 pm Tuesday, May 15, 2018

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The outgoing leader of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency says he’s leaving because of alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lee Smithson resigned Friday.

He says in a statement that his dependence on alcohol hurt his ability to run the agency and he stepped down after consulting with Gov. Phil Bryant. Smithson says he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder following deployment to Iraq and work after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. Smithson says he began receiving treatment last year. He says the stress agency leadership “only compounded my issues.”

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Smithson became emergency management director in 2016 after more than a decade directing military support for the Mississippi National Guard. That included coordinating efforts following Katrina and 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
A colonel in the military, Smithson served in Germany, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq.