Officer Wellness - Part 2

May 16, 2022

Part 2 (The Days After Retirement)

You begin to shed the cop appearance. That favorite police shirt or hat you used to wear is no longer appropriate. I remember having to re-evaluate my entire wardrobe because it screamed COP! My SWAT uniform pants would now become my yard work attire.

The stress of shedding such a meaningful identity doesn’t stop with our outer appearance. That part is easy. Those who are engaged in a purpose-filled activity or career to replace what they walked away from, may find it simple. But for those who don’t, this small change can still weigh heavily on the mind. 

In my opinion, sitting around and doing nothing is when any demons can begin to surface. We are left to our thoughts and risk focusing our thoughts on what we perceive at the time to be the negative aspects of police retirement.  Unfortunately, this can lead a very unhealthy or tragic outcome, resulting in alcohol and or substance abuse and potentially spiraling into a tragic loss of life. You’ve got to be active – mentally and physically. Consciously engaged.  I shared this with Amanda during our conversation. 

She’s had the opportunity to work with individuals who experience this type of transition, and was able to share some very helpful thoughts:

  • Typically, self-isolation is what leads to unfortunate outcomes. Amanda recommended finding ways to stay engaged with others and establish relationships.
  • Take time to TALK.It is amazing how something as simple as a conversation and positive interaction with another human being can make us feel good.  I was reminded that we often have Fraternal Organizations to help us stay connected and active.
  • There are for many of us, long standing friendships, peers and co-workers who we have entrusted with our lives and gone into battle with - - and all of the sudden we stop calling or talking to them?These are relationships that we can identify with since they too have experienced and witnessed the same things. Not to mention the laughter of reminiscing over stories of the past.

To the point, be proactive and take the lead to maintain your contacts. If that is not your cup of tea, there are numerous organizations and churches which provide opportunities to engage with others.  Just find yourself a social outlet and stay connected.