Imagine your days spent with countless forms and a mountain of endless paperwork. No matter how many times you submit it, it’s never correct and it’s always past deadline.
The mere fact that you can complete it is a detriment to your actual condition.
Don’t do it: Then you’re obviously refusing to conform to medical standards.
Do it: Then you’ve proven that you’re not disabled by being able to complete the paperwork.
When we put it that way, it almost sounds like an impossible riddle. However, this is not Office Space. This our life and countless others daily regiment as we try to stay relevant in a world not built for us.
We’d be lying if we said that we hadn’t been told that we were lucky to have survived that day. Lucky to have been merely wounded, but still alive and breathing.
Lucky that we were able to retire before our tenure expired at our departments.
Lucky to be 42 and not have to go to work tomorrow…or any other day for that matter.
While we ponder if the saying, “You never know what worse luck your bad luck had saved you from”, we cringe at how it’s trying to spin a yarn of garbage into a meaningful pattern.
It sucks. Every day in pain. Every day wondering why we must go through it.
Wondering who is going to question the extent of our injuries as we stare at the list of possible candidates; the state retirement board, worker’s comp, social security, public safety officers benefits (PSOB), NelNet with my student loans, the county and state tax code workers, and even the elderly couple that watched us park in the handicapped space with scorn in their eyes.
And if you think the last one is an exaggeration, you haven’t lived until you’ve unfolded yourself from the car with your cane, leg brace, and service animal, just to be verbally assaulted by Grandma Karen for being too young to park there.
We’d like to take you on a trip that involves a normal day, week, month, or year for a “Crip” like us.
It usually begins with a letter from one of the above listed agencies.
A letter that tells us which form they are missing, which signature is in the wrong place, why we’ve been rejected after being accepted after being rejected, and so on.
Sometimes, if we’re “lucky”, we get contradictory letters in the same batch of mail! State retirement says you’re fully disabled, but social security says you’re not. Holding them up side by side, time after time is almost comical.
Social security says you’re finally disabled, but it took so long for them to figure it out that you’re now up for reevaluation.
Back to the doctor to sign the form that says the same thing as last time, but on a different letterhead with more boxes to check mark.
Forward that to workers comp, social security, PSOB, and so on, only to be told it doesn’t fit the format of the others, so we need to go back and pay to see the doctor again for their standards.
By some stroke of luck, it gets accepted by a random government acronym for an agency, only to be used against us for a different hearing. You see, volunteering to help other wounded officers is considered a “no-no” to PSOB.
According to them, being able to answer a phone call to talk to someone in need means that I can still hold a job. Don’t take into mind the scheduling conflicts involved with blinding migraines, a spastic back, anxiety, insomnia, nerve pain that feels like lava in our veins.
That needs to wait until our lunch break or after 1700 hours, according to them.
We can work around it. *cue heavy eye rolling and more paperwork*.
Finally, we get the notice that they’ve settled our comp cases! Relaxation and a deep breath for us…wait, now social security is going to withhold our lump sum backpay to recalculate what we’re owed based on a windfall?!?
Due to the amount being so high we’re getting taxed at 80%!!! Hang on while we bend over and prepare for another cramp. Why are the doctors hands on our shoulders…
Here are the authors. Remember their names. Remember their stories. Then continue on for more…
Eddie Richardson is a retired disabled police officer who resides in Lexington, SC. During his tenure he received the Medal of Valor among other citations and awards for on-duty heroics. He now advocates for wounded first responders and is the Peer Coordinator for The Wounded Blue charity and The Iron Medics MC. He can be contacted at [email protected]
Shaun Smotherman is a retired disabled police officer who resides in Colorado Springs, CO. His tenure was with the Corpus Christi Police Department in the state of Texas. He spends his days doing outreach and peer support through The Wounded Blue and has been instrumental for furthering the rights of the wounded officer community. He can be contacted at [email protected]
Why so many police officers wish they’d been killed in the line of duty
“I wish that when he shot me, he killed me.”
It’s a statement that I struggled to process the first time I heard it from a police officer who took six bullets in the line of duty.
It was far from the last time I heard it.
The sad truth of it is that with the dozens of LEO’s who have been shot in the line of duty that I’ve interviewed over the past six months, it’s a pretty common feeling.
During the first couple of days in the hospital, when they are barely clinging to life, they are surrounded by love and support. Local politicians rally around them. The community comes together in prayer. #BlueStrong we proclaim on Facebook.
And then the officer pulls through and everyone realizes she or he is going to survive. The bills start piling up. The worker’s comp and disability battles begin.
And everyone disappears.
The physical and emotional scars remain. But the true pain runs much deeper, as a community abandons those who made such an incredible sacrifice.
Gone is their ability to work overtime to provide for their family. In many cases, the family savings get pumped into medical bills while the bureaucrats try to find the most efficient way to pay out the least amount of money possible while still covering their asses and declaring #BlueStrong.
And the road to recovery slows.
“Had I been killed, my family would have been provided for. They would have received significant death benefits. They wouldn’t have had me as a burden. They would have grieved… but they would have moved on,” one wounded officer told me.
And then there’s the prescriptions.
“I’m going to end up overdosing on heroin one day,” another wounded officer told me.
When he saw the look of shock on my face and saw that I’d become speechless, he explained.
“I can’t make ends meet right now,” he told me. “The department is letting me go in a couple of weeks. I can’t afford to sue. My medical coverage is going to disappear. I can’t survive without the opioids right now because of the pain.”
He said for him, it would start the death spiral.
“So what happens when I can’t afford the prescription any more? I’m going to have no choice to turn to the streets. My kids will be fatherless within a year, because I’ve fallen through the cracks and I’m about to become a statistic in the very opioid war that I once fought.”
How is it that our country can be so great… and yet so screwed up? As my good friend Sal DeFranco, Former Navy S.E.A.L. and owner of Battle Grounds Coffee with his wife put it this way:
“We are the greatest nation in the world. We can topple governments. We can take over entire countries. We are back to back world war champions. And yet we can’t take care of our own.”
How is it that we can provide iPhones to those who don’t want to work for a living… but we can’t provide for our officers wounded in the line of duty?
How is it that we can make sure illegal immigrants get health benefits… and yet we can’t take care of the desperate health situation surrounding those who were shot protecting actual citizens?
How is it that “healthcare for all” is demanded by socialists in America… but if it’s something that supports “pigs”… it’s ok to turn away and force them and their families to suffer?
This isn’t the America I know and love.
The America that I believe in holds up those men and women when they are falling.
The patriots I know demand that we need to have the six of those who protect us and hold the Thin Blue Line.
As long as there is a single officer out there who thinks that the world – or their family – would be better off if they had died… we have failed.
And to those of you who are reading this who ARE those officers… I’ve got some tough love for you.
You WEREN’T a warrior. You ARE a warrior.
That didn’t stop when you got shot or stabbed or run over.
You don’t get to give up the fight and throw in the towel. That’s not what warriors do. What has changed is that now you have a new battle.
Now you need to fight not for society, but for your family. For what you deserve. For what THEY deserve.
The mission has changed. But it’s a mission nonetheless.
The world would not be better without you. The world is better because of you. And you need to stand and fight not just for you and your family… but for those who will come after you.
More will be hurt. More will suffer beyond words. More will be forgotten by the system. That’s why you need to rise and fight … and know that you’re not alone.
There’s a rising tide of those declaring “enough is enough”. Our family at Law Enforcement Today has your six. Who is with us?
What Law Enforcement Today is doing to give back
Our team at Law Enforcement Today isn’t in it for the money. Just the opposite. Everyone on the team has made substantial investments of time and money to try and give a voice to those who hold the Thin Blue Line.
But we started running into problems a couple of years ago. Social media was scaling back the reach of content that it didn’t believe people should see.
Not that there was anything offensive about it. We’re talking about pro-police videos, stories about patriotic Americans and more.
And from our perspective, that created a huge problem. We have some of the greatest warriors in the world. Yet their voices and their stories were being buried.
The mainstream media, on the rare occasion that it would tell some of these stories, would give you only a piece of them. They’d cram as much as they could into a 90 second segment, slap their bias on it and that was it.
We needed to fix it. And so we are.
Law Enforcement Today (LET) launched the beta version of LET Unity – a new home focused on bridging the gap between civilians and civil servants. We’ve merged with The Whiskey Patriots to massively expand content, rolling out hundreds of videos to members.
Many of those in our focus groups dubbed it the “Netflix of the law enforcement community”. But the truth is, it’s so much more.
The first officer in the door at the Pulse nightclub shooting.
Emergency responders from the Parkland shooting.
The bomb squad that responded to the Aurora movie theater massacre.
Survivors of the Dallas five killings.
The first Marine Guard hostage in the Iran crisis.
The CIA agent who started a counter human trafficking company.
World War II veterans.
And so, so much more.
The membership is less than the cost of two coffees a month, and those who sign up for an annual membership will get some surprise bonuses in the mail. We decided to charge a nominal fee so we could take all of the proceeds and reinvest them into capturing more of these stories.
On top of that, we’re opening up the platform to some well-known podcasters who are going to be joining the team with some incredible content soon.
We have a problem in society. Censorship has created an existential threat to democracy. But even worse is the risk we run that some of these incredible stories of patriotism, hope, faith and our Sheepdogs would be lost.
We’ll soon be launching a series of content with Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) to share the stories of survivors. We will also be dropping a weekly law enforcement focused newscast that addresses some of the most important topics in the country… and helps bridge the gap between those who serve and those whom they serve.
On top of that, we’ll soon be rolling out a series of private discounts and special promotions to members only as a “thank you” for being a part of the family.
The beta platform is live and the apps for Apple, Android, Apple TV and Roku will be launching soon.
We hope you’ll join us in this journey, knowing that your membership is going to give a voice to those who have been silenced for so long.