Those of you who have signed up for careers in the military or as first responders understand what it means to be dedicated to a life of service. Family members also become part of this commitment, making sacrifices so that others may be safe.
I was speaking with a law enforcement officer today who described the “thin blue line” that has become synonymous with the police line of duty. The black space above the line commonly represents society, order and peace, while the black space below, crime, anarchy and chaos. It’s a thin blue line (police) that runs between the two, keeping society protected. Uniforms often reflect the thin blue line, or variations of it. Although the stripe on your uniform may be a different colour, the unifying theme is the commitment to service and duty.
I’m often struck how deep and automatic the dedication to service runs: putting oneself in harm’s way so that others might be protected. Even after long careers, veterans often search for ways to “give back” or be “of service” to their communities. Many people describe repeatedly volunteering for horrific duties so that others won’t have to. Whether it’s volunteering to assist with the Swissair disaster, responded to a fatal house fire, working daily with gangs, investigating homicides, or being first at the scene after a horrific car accident, someone always steps forward, putting themselves at risk so that their friends, colleagues, and community, may be protected. As you well know, this is not without a toll. Not feeling the injury while at work doesn’t mean that a deep-seeded pain isn’t there.
What happens when the uniform comes off?
Whether it’s at the end of a long shift, during a break following injury, or after a long career, knowing how to care for oneself is not always simple. I often hear people talk about “becoming the job.” Family members fret that their loved ones no longer feel the same.
It’s for this reason we are launching our new program Identity and Transition: discovering who you are when the uniform comes off. Whether you’re on active duty, in transition, or retired. This course is for you. If you’re not yet ready to sign up for the program, we hope that you’ll follow our online resources related to this important topic.
Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong