Finding hope in chaos

No one has ever accused me of being quiet – of not having an opinion and sharing it.

So here we are this morning, and I am recovering from an amazing weekend volunteering as part of an event that had lofty goals.  These goals were to bring attention and support to some very important families.

I work really hard to not hurt feelings – I grew up knowing that pain, and I see people every day that are hurt by the omission of others, that feeling of being left behind and forgotten by those that in the past were their avid supporters.

This weekend I traveled south of the Twin Cities with many others to a weekend event as part of a joint effort between MN Association for Injured Peace Officers and Hunting for Heroes.  Both organizations spend countless hours of volunteer resources to support injured law enforcement officers.  This weekend’s event was held to honor 5 officers from this state that had been injured on duty – some who were able to return to their careers in law enforcement and some who were not. The goal is to bring these families together for a weekend so that they can connect with others that truly understand the harsh realities of an on-duty injury, because not many people can grasp the severity of what can happen following these events, and there are a lot of misconceptions out there.

I think everyone knows what happens when a cop is killed in the line of duty – there is a community outpouring of media attention and local rallying.  Honor guards, processions of police cars, bagpipes and people mourning as a collective community are what we all see on the news when something like that happens here in Minnesota.

In my humble opinion that is how it should be; people that live their life every day knowing that they may not return home should be supported with great honor and fanfare.  I know that not everyone likes law enforcement and I am okay with that – it is my opinion and the world I live in.

Do you know what happens to an officer that is critically injured?  Well, if you live in MN and have followed the story of my husband then that answer is yes, but do you know why you know?  It is because I saw an opportunity to do something for others that did not have a voice – families suffering in silence, living a life harder than they could have ever imagined after an injury suffered while working as a law enforcement officer.  Life often feels impossible, and in the worst case scenarios, ends in a great tragedy.

Injured law enforcement officers and their families are often left on their own; once injured, their department may separate from them, needing to move on with those still on the job.  There are countless challenges with doctor visits, workman’s compensation and insurance company issues, pain, significant financial implications and often times, a forced retirement due to their injuries.

What then?  A job that was what you did, who you were, and that you often spent more time at than with your family no longer exists – so where do I go now?  How do I support my family?  And where is everyone, why do I feel so alone?

I hear it every day, those words of isolation, fear and lack of support from an institution known for its honor and merit.  Why does this happen?

My best guess is that it is just easy to put aside an injured officer thinking that they will be taken care of – bills will be paid, families will be supported and no hardship will occur with either the officer or the family.  Many times this is just not the case.  Families are left guessing and wondering where they will go, and how they will get there.

Organizations like those that I support – MAIPO and Hunting for Heroes – find ways to bring understanding and support to a time and place of chaos.  Finding words to ease the calm of that chaos can mean the difference between life and death.  I hope that in the future there will be more interaction between these two groups of amazing people, and that even more individuals will support their cause, and find a way to give back to those that, although still standing, are changed forever, by a chance injury or accident.

A moment that changes their life – forever.

Una Stamus

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