Hello my friends, going a different direction with this post, hope y’all don’t mind, but it’s been weighing on me to talk about this even if it’s a small audience. Who knows, maybe somehow the right person or persons will find it and it will help.
There are people, ordinary everyday people out there, that do something extraordinary. They don’t do it for the money, glory, fame or recognition. They just simply do it because something tugs at them inside and they answer that calling. These people live a Life of Duty.
Soldiers, Police Officers, these are the people I’m talking about, and let’s see if we can explore why, and if not why, let’s see if we can find ways to let them know we appreciate their sacrifices.
I’m a Veteran, I am also a 25+ year active duty Police Officer, I know these sacrifices and I salute anyone that has or is either, you are my Brothers & Sisters in arms, and I know…
No one tells you about all the things that surround you when you are in one of these services, military service people are sent to God knows where to perform tasks that would break a normal persons heart and soul to go through. Sometimes fighting night and day to stay alive, far from home while the world continues to spin and your civilian friends party and carry on with no clue what you are living through. Missing family and always in the back of your mind focusing on the one thought that helps get you through, the thought of going home when your tour is over. And when you finally do get to go home, you realize you no longer are the person you were before you left, you have seen too much, felt too much, to just brush it all off and pretend you are you. So, if your able and are one of the lucky ones, you shove the bad into that dark place in the the back recesses if your mind and you mentally build an impenetrable wall to keep it from escaping. You pick up your life and carry on as if nothing happened, you live a happy life and are complete.
But if you are not lucky, or are not able to force the bad into a box and wall your mind up around it, you are tortured by the demons that haunt your mind. These souls desperately search for help, from pills, from a bottle, from wherever they can. They often find the “official” channels are made so cumbersome and full of people that only care if you fill out the appropriate form, that they cannot get past the front desk. The V.A. Is FULL of non caring people that ONLY care that they get their weekends off and a steady, easily earned paycheck. There are though, Angels in the V.A. who despite the red tape, and bosses with their forms, truly care and are devastated to know they didn’t help someone who needed it. The Veteran that cannot get help, often self medicates with one of the earlier mentioned items. Some find solace in other Veterans and groups who get together and listen, share horror stories, cry on each other’s shoulders and maintain the bond created in difficult times.
Will leave it there for a couple lines while I share a conversation with a friend and fellow Veteran I had recently. This Veteran served in Iraq on the ground door to door, and came home, ok but not completely, the demons kept creeping out, and he would self medicate with alcohol to keep them at bay. Just as he came through it, and could start to keep the demons in the box, tragedy strikes and his son, also a Veteran who served in Afghanistan, after struggling with depression, self medicating and not getting the help he needed from the V.A. took his own life. This pushed my friend back into a spiraling fall and only by the Grace of God and his own strength of character, did he emerge from. Every day is a reminder to him of his son, and he fights on because he knows to give in would hurt more people that he loves.
Now back we go, the above story is true and I only found out all of it from my friend last week. It brings home tragedy of a friends loss, and brings to light for me the fact that there are so many Military Veterans that NEED help. Take the time to tell a Veteran, don’t just say “thank you for your service” say “Thank YOU” and “Is there anything you need that I may be able to help with?” I’m not talking about offering money I’m talking about offering compassion, it’s worth all the money in the world to someone that thinks no one cares.
When I became a Police Officer back in 1994, things were different. For the most part citizens liked the Police and what they stood for. Things have changed, not all for the good, some as a result of bad decisions by Police Officers, some by the media bending the truth to sensationalize a story to get ratings. I became a Police Officer at the age of 30, so I had had several jobs, been around the block a few times and was considered one of the old school cops. We told you how we felt about something honestly and if you needed arrested we arrested you, if you needed someone to vent to, we let you vent (verbally), words can hurt but it’s temporary and not life threatening. I cannot tell you or guess how many times I stood and talked to someone that was irate and genuinely wanting to cause trouble, that eventually calmed down and after a while, changed their attitude ( by the way the surest way to tick someone off is to tell them to “calm down” trust me on this).
For the most part the people we dealt with were not the worst of society, don’t get me wrong, on any given minute anyone is capable of anything. One of the most calm and well spoken people I have come across had just killed a man for “disrespecting” his camp. But I hold no grudges, people make mistakes daily and most try and put it behind them. I go by the motto “Don’t judge a man by how he falls, judge him by how he stands back up”.
Leaping forward in time the Officers are from a different generation, the new replacing the old, as it’s always been, but…this new “millennial” group of Officers, despite being competent and confident, lack the ability to take criticism, cannot talk to people and are always in a hurry to be someplace where the action is. More than once in my career I have been told “you can’t talk to millennials that way” or ” you don’t know how to talk to millennials”. Maybe so, but I know how to talk to people, it came to this job with me, and it came from years of life experience“, something you do not get from a book or video. I am lucky that I had firm but fair parents, that taught right from wrong, taught manners (I still say ma’am and thank you, I still open doors for people, I take my hat off around ladies and inside) but more than that, I was instilled from a young age a coping mechanism for any and all problems, and that is a faith in God, and that he knows and will provide me with the answers and comfort I need, when I need it.
Now this past paragraph may sound like I am bashing millennials, and this is no means the case. There are two points I want to make, if I can, one is if a person would just listen more than talk the answers would present themselves, and the second? Follow along…
Being a Police Officer has taken a drastic change over the past 10 years, we are no longer respected by the populace, as we once were. This is partially our fault and partially the fault of outside influences beyond our control. Police Officers are having to contend with situations that they are not trained on and that are more military in nature than civilian. Ambushes, terrorist attacks, these are things Soldiers are trained for and these are the things that if you survive, leave scars mentally. These scars, are put in the box with the demons from the homicides, the sudden deaths, the drownings, the suicides, as well as the media constantly finding flaw in every thing we as Police Officers deal with in a manner that they don’t agree with. Today’s Police Officers are being killed at unprecedented rates, but worse, they are unable to keep the demons in the box, and sadly they are committing suicide at rates way higher than ever. These young men and women, are the newer Officers mostly, with an average of 5 years on the job and find they cannot cope with what they have seen, done, and been accused of, alone, and do not know where to turn. They self medicate, and when that fails, they resort to the only solution they think they have left, suicide. I’m not saying that just because you fall in the millennial “group” and you’re a Police Officer, you are more likely to commit suicide, I am saying that it seems to me that younger (in time) Officers, that haven’t developed the coping mechanisms, who do not think they need to listen, who do not believe they need God in their lives, are walking a thin line, without the safety net that seasoned Veterans who have life experience have.
Ladies and Gentlemen, if you read this and know someone that you even faintly may feel like they are in trouble, get them help. Do not just let it go, if you can’t help tell their boss, their parent, wife, friend or family member, do not let them try and face it alone.
I have been and always will be a Soldier (once a Soldier always a Soldier) I have been and will always be a Police Officer, and I know I may be called to make a sacrifice that few can make in order to protect the “sheep from the wolves”, that’s the choice I make daily when I put my uniform on. I can cope with my demons as I have the Armor of God, and I let him guide me in times when I am feeling weak. I have the most beautiful and loving wife in my Peach, and nothing on this good earth is going to keep me from annoying her for another 50+ years.
I chose to live a “Life of Duty” like thousands before, and thousands will after, praise them when you get the chance, we are human beings also, with the same wants, needs and fears, we just chose to put them aside to protect you all from the evil in the dark places you choose not to believe exists.
To my fellow Veterans, and my fellow Police Officers, YOU ARE NOT ALONE, if you are feeling weak call and I am there, hit your knees and ask God to show you the way, his way may not be what you want, but it will be what you need.
“I don’t believe in God” “it’s ok, God believes in you”
“God does not care who you were son, God cares who you are”
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”