Distribution: Please distribute to all Law Enforcement, Paramedic and Fire personnel
First, I want to say thank you to everyone who has made it possible for me to distribute this message. I can not express my gratitude enough for your assistance.
As I write this, Patriot Day is two weeks away. It is a day or remembrance for what we lost in the attacks on 9/11. Just under 3000 people lost their lives that day. 343 firefighters, 70 officers of the NYPD and PAPD, 8 private EMT’s and a K9 gave their lives that day and over 50 more since then due to “9/11 related illness”.
It’s during these times that we ask ourselves a question like “What do we do to honor their sacrifice?” One of the 343 was a Chaplain, Mychael Judge. Sometimes I ask myself the same question, although maybe not in those same words. When I put on my uniform I may take a second glance to make sure it looks like it should. I do what is needed and I behave in a manor to not bring shame on my position, or tarnish that honor. That looks a little different for everyone of us. When you lace up your boots and get in that engine or cruiser, I’m sure you do the same thing.
But don’t think that means we don’t have “bad days”. We all have bad days from time to time, even us Chaplains. So what we do with our “bad days” determines if we bring honor to our professions or if we tarnish them. It also determines if our “bad day” becomes a “bad year” or a “bad life”. So what do we do? I understand that your life may be complicated. As everyone travels the road through life, we have to deal with money issues, family issues, hospitalizations and death of family members. So how do we keep ourselves going? Here are a few ideas.
1. Take time for yourself. I know I say it a lot. You have to do something for you that makes you happy. Whatever it is – hunt, fish, go to the beach, go to the mall, go to a religious service. Do something for YOU.
2. Remember, anything can change. If you are going through a tough time, it can change. Things change. People change. We change.
3. Reach out. Find someone you can trust and talk to them. Supervisors, clergy, co-workers, doctors, chaplains… somebody.
4. Share your story. This might be hard for some of us. If you managed to fight your way out of a dark time in your life, others may need to hear it. If you had a “critical incident” and you came back happy, then someone else will need that. It will help someone else, but it will also help you to remember it. Life threw it’s worst at you and you came out on top. You won. Be proud of that. I’ll end this point with one of my favorite stories from “The West Wing”. “This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.'” Someone needs you. Let them find you.
Thanks for reading, stay safe, and contact me if I can help you.
I’ve said it in every email. I’ve said it to the chiefs and administrators when I contact them. You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.