What people don’t know can’t hurt me! This statement is how I have lived my life since I had about 2 years of service, (the first and last time another member saw me flinch at a call or anywhere else) and I’m sure I am not alone.
I was just watching Michael Lansberg talking with Mike Babcock about Mental Illness on TSN. I have always compared policing (first responder profession) to team sports as you rely on others to get the job done, in some cases trusting your life to people you hardly know. Unfortunately the same people you trust with your life, you can’t trust with anything else. In sports just like the RCMP there is one thing, what I will call a fatal flaw, where when having to make a choice between team or player, organization or member people are most likely going to choose the team or organization over an individual. After all, that’s the culture, you are now part of a select team and there is no “I” in team. None of us are anything without the team.
In every conversation surrounding PTSD, depression and mental illness everyone says; “Talk to someone you trust, a friend, co-worker, family member, counsellor….” Where do you go when you trust no one? Not because you don’t want to trust someone but because every time you open up just a bit it becomes the topic everyone is talking, I mean whispering about.
I do not know how the RCMP is going to resolve the trust issue despite all efforts to raise awareness, eliminate the stigma and educate employees. The bottom line is peace officers come from a world where you trust no one because we have all been burned by someone, likely more than once. What’s the saying, “trick (not the real word) me once shame on you, trick me twice shame on me.”
I know I am not the only one dealing with this, I know there is help available and also know what is said behind my back. I have been described by people I worked with as, “a guy you could count on to show up swinging a flashlight”. I am also a guy who struggles with not being able to prevent the many bad things that happened to good people. I can’t just forget it or accept that I did everything I could because in my world if I did everything I could in those circumstances bad things wouldn’t have happened.
I find it interesting how the majority of professional athletes who are coming forward are retired and I know why. If I was still a serving member there is no way I, like many others would even consider seeking help or speaking out and that my friends is the real tragedy. For those still serving and speaking out, you have my utmost respect and my hope is the organization will recognize that is what needs to happen to have a healthy workforce. Policing (first responding) is what we do/did, not who we are.
Take care of yourself.
R.T. (Bob) Miller S/Sgt. (retired)