Cover or Concealment: Avoid Becoming A Casualty

tac4Whether you are a civilian, law enforcement or military, this is for you; but it’s not about what you think.  There is a twist.  If you were to look up the definitions of both cover and concealment, you would find that they have similar meanings.  However, in law enforcement and the military, each word differs significantly from one another.  Concealment would be any object that prevents us from being viewed, such as a set of bushes or a trash can, but a projectile can easily pass through it.  Cover is an object that also can shield you from you, however, it cannot be easily penetrated, such as a brick wall or the engine block in a car.  During an assault, which would you rather get behind to survive the attack?

Let’s switch gears and apply this to any given problem or issue you may be having.  Not just something that bothers you, but a true problem.  This could be PTSD, TBI, obesity, it could be anger management, anything that prevents you from truly being able to live freely.  Have you identified it?  This problem is the enemy force that is trying to take you out.  It is your adversary and you are trying to find a way, not only to deal with it, but to be protected form it until you find a solution.  So which option do you choose?   Although cover is the obvious answer, 99% of the time, we unknowingly choose concealment.

In terms of psychotherapy, each of us has already discovered how we deal with certain issues and feelings.  Some  people fall into drinking or working excessively, gambling or some other outlet.  The bottom line is almost all of our coping mechanisms are only concealing the real issues.  It may appear as if we really have a grip on the issue but just like medication, in time the effect dissolves, and if you use the medication long enough, you end up building an immunity to it and either have to increase your dosage or move on to something much stronger.  What we should be searching for is true cover, some activity or element that can sustain long-term, positive effects on your mind and body, such as exercise, true friendship, therapy, worship and fellowship.  These things offer genuine protection.  This article is written to encourage each of you to conduct a brief reflection about how you spend your time coping with your issues:  the deep issues that haunt you daily and keeping you from getting a good nights sleep.  Sometimes you can’t go to family or your “friends” aren’t there.  If you’re fortunate enough to have a spouse or special partner that is really in your corner, even then,  sometimes we don’t want to burden them with what bothers us the most.

So where do we turn? As a police officer, I realized early on that I had subconsciously surrounded myself with all cops.  In my mind, no one else could relate to my job.  Then, I fell deeper and deeper into a culture that supports emotional suppression.  Don’t get me wrong: I needed this to survive the streets of Detroit and Baltimore.  However, it wasn’t until I lost my partner that I realize that I needed to expand my support network.  So I made some new acquaintances, I became a Chaplain, and I searched for sources that would add a layer of protection that prevented internal destruction, and, at the same time, also offered a source of healing from incidents that scarred me emotionally and mentally.  In my growth, I also learned that whether you are working in health care, corporate America, a Starbucks or a stay at home parent, there is no escaping life-changing confrontations.

Those of us who have faith or are spiritual can find some immediate assistance.  However, since not everyone is in this position, it is critical to seek out avenues that allow you to express your frustrations and challenges, so that you can release the negative weights.   If you don’t get anything from this article, I would hope that you can at least appreciate the relationship between the things you use to try to hide problems from yourself and others versus the tools used to truly find the solutions we desperately need.  We now know that there is scientific evidence to support the fact that stress can kill you.  If and when  you need it, no matter if it is 2pm or 2am, I am here to listen.

 

 

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The Essence of Who We Are

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A Chaplain’s Assistant (front) and a Chaplain (rear) prepare for deployment to a combat zone.  This displays the essence of our support.  Notice the Chaplain is not carrying a bible, nor a weapon.  But his mere presence commands an atmosphere of comfort, confidence and support.  We are here as guides, not to push you into any certain direction, but to extend an arm of stability ready to grab hold of you when you feel you are at your weakest.  If you or someone you know, needs some non-judgmental support and guidance, please reach out to us.

All The Pieces Matter

Today the entire country will honor the lives of the fallen Americans from the 9/11 attacks.  There will be shows, postings, pictures, and various types of recollections of that day.  During this time, we must remember that not only were public safety and military professionals among those that lost their lives, but unaware civilians as well.  This is an area that has not received the focus and attention it should have.  I am often reminded when I do funerals that the services are really meant to nurture the living while we honor the dead.  There are those of you who unselfishly serve others daily, despite your personal situations and to each of you I thank you.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13.  While we like to cite this scripture when referencing the fallen military or police who readily sacrifice their lives for the protection of others, civilians do not necessarily relate to this concept.  Since there will be plenty of articles and blogs addressing police, fire and military service, I want to focus briefly on those of you who make up the majority of our society: the civilians.  Why? Because each of you also serves a purpose in supporting those of us who are serving in more dangerous professions.

Immediately after the attacks on the twin towers, churches across America were filled, some with lines stretching outside.  People were seeking answers.  And, as with any other conflict, that enthusiasm to seek change faded as the years went on.  While stress and tragedy tend to bring us together, the effects wear off until the next significant event.  We tend to be more reactive than proactive in our society and that is a dangerous way to live.  Considering the climate today between the police and a portion of our civilian population, there are issues that should have been addressed long before the incidents in Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD.  So who’s responsibility was it to point out these deficiencies before they escalated to these levels?  Everyone.  Each of us has the opportunity to impact those in our circle of influence on a daily basis and somehow, that influence failed or was non-existent.  Why does it take a tragedy to bring us together?  Why does it take a significant impact on our personal lives to stand up for change?

Today, as we remember probably the most life changing event that this country has ever faced, I would like you, the people who have never served in the military, law enforcement, the medical field, Fire, EMS or any other public service entity to take a close look at your lives.  Your life is no less significant than those who either gave their lives knowingly or unwittingly on that day.  So make it count and add your imprint in the lives of others in any way that you can.  Whether it is serving food at a shelter, or just repairing broken relationships in your personal life through forgiveness, there is something that you can do to show greater love and have an impact just as powerful as giving your life for others.  Remember that you are a significant part of the life puzzle…and all the pieces matter.

Facing Goliath

When you woke up this morning to start your day, what was the biggest challenge you were facing?  Was it getting up for that early morning workout?  Was it preparing for a presentation at work?  Maybe it was just preparation to deal with the foolishness of the day from that annoying co-worker?  No matter what the challenge, each of us has to face a daily conflict that, in the eyes of others, may not be as important as we make it appear to be.  Bottom line: it is significant to us.  This is our “Goliath”.

Perspective – “a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view”. The story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, is one that most of us have heard of whether you are religious or not.  Let me summarize: Here we have a young man, that was a keeper of sheep, and became involved in a war, of which, he was not originally a part.  Previously, for forty days, Goliath had challenged the Israelites to send out their greatest warrior but all were afraid.  Now, here comes David.  When he hears the boasting of Goliath, without hesitation, he challenges him.  Of course, the men who would not face Goliath commented that David could not possibly win and had no experience.  David reminded them of this important note: while he was not a “soldier” by definition, he had to face off countless attacks by bears and wolves to protect the sheep, and he did so successfully.  That made him qualified, and he succeeding in slaying the giant Philistine, Goliath.

Whether you are in a patrol car, or an office cubicle, change your perspective of who you are and realize how well you are equipped to face your “Goliath”.  Don’t sit idly by while the circumstances crumble around you because it’s not ” your war”.  You may have a particular set of skills that allow you to diffuse and defeat a situation that will benefit the entire team.  You may have that particular respect, relationship or vocal ability to bring peace during a storm.  If you have ever sat in a training session, you know that often someone will ask a question that you were thinking of but were too afraid to ask, or didn’t want to appear to be less knowledgeable than your peers.  It’s time that we stop letting our circumstances dictate to us how we should respond to any given situation, and take a proactive role in maintaining peace and order.

David received a great reward for his willingness to face a common enemy in a fight that he did not initiate.  I faced many nightmares and sleepless nights after having spent a thankless day in protecting the lives of others; both in law enforcement and the military.  But I realized that my service and sacrifice far outweighed what I could physically see and I benefited greatly from those experiences. Though painful, it was and is my calling, so I embraced it.   If more of us could step outside of ourselves and realize the true power in serving others, we would not only defeat our own personal “Goliath”, but we could win many wars on the behalf of others as well.

The Daily Grind

Wake up.  Take a shower.  Get dressed.  Drive through traffic.  Arrive at work. Go home.  Repeat.

So for many of us, our days seem repetitive, and, at least for me, I have to always double check and find out exactly what it was that I accomplished for the day.  Over time I have learned that we must take time out of the daily grind and rediscover our true purpose and calling.  It took me years to understand that I didn’t have to become someone different at home than I was at work.  I didn’t have to put up the fronts, or tolerate the foolishness, and bring all that home just to complain and return to face it the next day.  I learned that my work (in this case law enforcement) didn’t truly define who I was and shouldn’t keep me from being myself.

Why am I focusing on this?  Because, I think that the majority of us who are used to wearing different hats, whether they be mother, father, husband, wife, boss or laborer, do not understand that our careers are just a layer of who we truly are.  We act differently at work than at home, or for those of us that are spiritual, we struggle between the identities of who we are in private versus the public.  Many of our soldiers and public safety personnel struggle with this on a daily basis, not truly understanding that their true identity lies much deeper than the uniform we wear.  Unfortunately, because these professions constantly pull on our energy and require us to bare the burden of other people’s lives, we are stuck in a perpetual cycle that eventually causes stress in our homes and with our families, in addition to the regular stress that life brings.

The lesson?  Step back and take a breath.  Re-evaluate what’s important.  What did you truly accomplish today during your daily grind and how has it helped you or someone else?

A New Vision

Recently I decided to revamp this blog and refocus efforts on making others aware of the mission of these posts.  For the past year or so, I have also been studying PTSD and providing counseling specifically in this area, to combat the rising percentages of suicides among our military men and women returning from war.  So, I ask each of you as you read this to pass along this free resources of hope and stability to anyone you think may benefit.  I am particularly seeking those writers out there who wish to contribute articles on the topics listed in this blog so that awareness may continue to grow.  At some point, we need to be in selfless service to others in need, as one day we all will find ourselves in that same position.

Rebirth

After almost a year of inactivity, I am back online. The experiences I have had have been breathtaking, in the least. However, with a new focus and new mission, I want this blog to fulfill its purpose in reaching others who are hurting and looking for answers and healing. There exists, just beyond our mortal senses, a universe where the forces of good are in constant battle with an empire of evil. Whose side are you on?