P1 First Person: The 'forgotten ones'
By Greg Brown
Rocky Mount (N.C.) Police Department (ret.)
Too often I read articles about our brothers and sisters giving their lives in the performance of their duties and it still saddens me every time I see it. We show our respect by wearing the black mourning band over the badge and honoring them with a police officer’s funeral where hundreds come from miles around to pay their respects to the family, to the department and to the fallen officer. During National Police Week, held annually in May in Washington DC, the names of those heroes are forever memorialized in granite, becoming a permanent part of the law enforcement history. For any police officer, giving his or her life in the duty is the bravest thing anyone can do. They leave behind wives, husbands, partners, children and parents and they make that sacrifice without thinking twice.
But what happens to all those other officers we read about who are catastrophically injured in the line of duty but who survive? We often hear about the gunfight or ambush they were in, the terrible crash they survived, the heart attack they suffered and then that’s all we hear. If the officer recovers and is able to return to full duty, then it may make the local news and he or she will be celebrated as they return to the job. However, there is another group of officers who fall into the category I call “The Forgotten Ones.”
I call them that because that is the category that I fall into, and I know from personal experience what it’s like to feel “forgotten.” Too often these officers have given years, even decades, to their respective police departments, their communities, and their government agencies but are forced to medically retire after an injury. It’s not something any of us likes to think about, but look through my eyes for a few minutes and let me show you how it feels to be forced out of the profession we all love so much and what you can do still be a part of this great profession.