Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Thin Blue Line...

I woke up today and knew immediately what to write about. But it's taken all day to figure out *how* to write about it. I'm still not sure, so bear with me, we're going free-flow...

The fiance is an Army Reservist (not that you would know, with him in Afghanistan 2 of the last 3 years. But that's another post for another day). For those of you unfamiliar, our Reservists have a civilian career. They drill (go visit Army-land) one weekend a month, two weeks a year. And right now, they are heavily relied upon as a solid chunk of the meager 1% of Americans fighting our wars. Oh wait, that rant is supposed to be for another day, right?

Anyway... the fiance is a Reservist. His civilian career is law enforcement. In fact, his life of law enforcement impacted me before his life in the Army ever did. Perhaps that's why I can't quite define myself by anything. Admittedly, I don't like labels, but it never felt quite right to say "Army Girlfriend" or "SGT's fiancee" or any of those "badges" many women in the military community love. Not that there is a problem with those. Nor do I define myself by him. But certainly, who we love is part of who we are. And I look at the dichotomy between my two communities and often wonder what the other side thinks.  So let's think...

Army: Leaves me for a year to go to a foreign land. Some deployed get to call/Skype home every day. Some communicate very rarely. All year, there are people who will actively try to kill him. Let's be honest, guys experience varying degrees of safety over there, but considering my guy played "find the IED", it's safe to say he put his life on the line every day.    And then, there are a few things I guess at (being a Reserve, non-spouse). Spouses have other spouses. No matter which base, many of the circumstances are still the same... TriCare, commissaries, FRGs, etc. They're different but the same. Dwell time seems to be pretty well enforced for the standard grunt (I know Rangers, SF, etc. don't get it as much). And despite him leaving for training, he often spends long chunks at home, where he is in no danger at all.

Police: Doesn't have to leave me other than for a normal working 8 (or more) hours. No, it's not 9-5, but he's home for a "night" (that might be in the middle of the day). And he gets "weekends" (that might be Tuesday and Wednesday). While overtimes can come at absolutely any time for any reason, he can call almost any time because of course he carries his cell phone. But here's a big thing.. when he walks out the door each day, I have to understand that he might not come back. Where I answer the phone at work, he pulls people over. You never know which routine traffic stop may turn into a shootout. Where I type reports and make copies, he responds to calls of domestic violence, robberies, shootings. Or goes to investigate murders. He won't come home for a year of complete safety because his daily job involves putting his life on the line.  And, at least in my experience, there is no community support or spouses groups. You don't often know other spouses, there is no FRG, and each department has its own schedules, rules, insurance and hierarchy.

I don't mean to disparage either group. I admire and respect my fiance for both jobs. And I have the highest respect for the men and women who are solely dedicated to one or the other of these jobs. I believe that the military community has done amazing things during these wars. They have brought to light the needs of military families, brought remembrance and honor to our fallen Heroes who gave their lives in battle. And I know there is always more to do. And I never stop thinking about BOTH communities.

There is a thin blue line that keeps order around society. And in some ways, a thin blue line that stands between you and me. When I put on that Army fiance hat, despite my many frustrations, I have found resources and community. When I put on that police fiance hat, I have not. Though Memorial Day is coming, I would like to point out to anyone reading that tomorrow kicks off Police Week here in DC. Families of police officers killed in the line of duty during 2010 will come to DC to bond, grieve, and honor their loved ones, much in the way a group called TAPS gathers families of military fallen during Memorial Day.

This is what I know about loving a police officer. First, there are a few bad apples out there. And they've done a damn good job spoiling the whole bunch. People will start endless, constant discussion about the few bad ones, every friend of mine of my fiance's will tell us about the one jerk police officer he dealt with. And that is a load of bull that simply must be accepted. Because what I know is that they are quiet heroes. Just as the soldier willingly leaves for war to keep you safe, police walk out the door each day, bullet proof vest on, gun belt weighing on his hips, uniform on, and face the world full of crap that you don't want to see, face or think about. He will walk up to each person, knowing that could be the person who turns on him and shoots him, but he will do it nonetheless. He will help whereever he is asked, turn to children with kindness, even rescued abused animals, and in the next moment will face a gang-banger, show no fear as he chases a criminal, go undercover if needed, and do what he is asked to clean the scum off the streets, to keep you and me safe.

And I will kiss him good-bye, hug him tight, pressing against that strong chest made unnaturally firm by his vest. I will go to sleep truly with one eye open, never falling asleep so deeply that I won't hear the door open when he comes home, or become aware when the door didn't open at the right time. Just like the panic I'd feel when the news reported KIA in Afghanistan, I will panic at any headline about a police officer shot.

I don't want you to feel badly for me. I am strong. And I am so proud of him. I want you to think about police officers this week. I want you to thank one. You probably won't know the family of a fallen police officer, but if you do, thank them, honor them. Donate to C.O.P.S. (Concerns of Police Survivors). Or just say a prayer that the horrible pace of violence against police officers, the disgusting level of loss we've seen already this year, slows. Pray for that thin blue line to be unbroken.

No comments:

Post a Comment