Law enforcement officers know all too well that the holidays make an already stressful situation even more stressful. The holiday season increases the occurrences of domestic disturbances, attempted and successful suicides, drunks and driving drunks, people off their meds, people off their rockers — the list goes on and on.
That same holiday stress can exacerbate the situation for an officer living with an injury or disability. Especially, if that injury occurred recently.
This may be the first holiday season since the officer was injured. The officer’s first time not being on duty during the holidays. Lots of complex emotions go with being away from the law enforcement family during “the season.”
Injuries bring loss of income. The officer may be getting a basic salary, but has lost pay from overtime or extra jobs. The money they had counted on to buy those expensive gifts may not be available this year.
The officer may be facing the New Year with uncertainty about the future and the ability to return to work.
All that adds up to stress on the officer and their families. Here are 10 things you can do to help...
1.) During this season, make a special effort to remember those living with the sacrifice. Invite the injured officer to your department, agency, division, unit, or union holiday parties. Mail them holiday or get well cards.
2.) When dealing with an incident/situation, just knowing someone gives a flip can make a tremendous difference to the person going through the crisis.
3.) Offer to help bring home a tree for a disabled officer, put up decorations outside the house, or wrap gifts. The kids shouldn’t lose out on their holiday because the parent is injured or disabled. Take the officer shopping. They may not feel like facing the crowded malls alone. They may not be able to, or allowed to, carry a firearm.
4.) Don’t forget the caregiver. They may be too overwhelmed with the officer’s care to even think about shopping, cooking, and decorating.
5.) Volunteer to help or stay with the officer so the caregiver can attend to holiday needs or take the kids shopping.
6. Ask if the gifts the officer has already bought need assembly. The officer may not be able to accomplish that task on their own or could use an extra pair of hands.
7.) Organize a “Blue Crew” who can help injured officers in your jurisdiction. A gift of a needed house or car repair might be appreciated.
8.) Buy the officer a gift. He/she may be bored senseless while off duty. A gift that can help pass the time in a constructive manner would be appreciated and might help them heal faster.
9.) Invite the injured officer and family to your house for a holiday feast or get together. The family may be too overwhelmed with the officer’s care to plan a viable holiday celebration on their own.
10.) Try a letter or phone call simply asking, “What do you need?” or “How can I help?” And don’t take “nothing” for an answer.
The following is my take on an injured/disabled officer’s holiday wish list. If only I could make each one come true for all officers living with the sacrifice.
1.) Peace and Joy
2.) Speedy and full recovery
3.) Worker’s comp claims processed without hassle or the need for an attorney
4.) Providing their caregiver with a spa day or just a day off
5.) A call or visit from the chief/sheriff/mayor/governor or, most importantly, their fellow officers
6.) Media reports that blame the suspect and not the officer
7.) Get well cards stuffed with checks or cash
8.) Anything but another crossword puzzle
9.) Their previous life back
10.) No more crime or evil so no other LEO is ever hurt again
To all, stay safe and be careful this holiday season.