Pastor salutes law enforcement officers and firefighters
Thursday, Jun 12, 2014 11:08 am
My appreciation for the bravery and dedication of peace officers, firefighters and paramedics has increased dramatically in recent years. The kind of unfathomable tragedy like what recently unfolded in Moncton, NB has contributed to such, of course. But it’s more than that.
About 15 years ago, I first met two officers with the Calgary Police Service who also served as part-time chaplains to the force. Kevin McInnes and Jim Amsing introduced me to a fledgling initiative they were a part of that became the subject of several news stories I wrote. Their efforts subsequently blossomed into the Diakonos Retreat Society (www.diakonosretreat.com) that is “a non-profit charitable organization… that serves to strengthen peace officers, firefighters, emergency services and military personnel and their families by building legacies of hope, mutual respect, trust and longevity to withstand the challenges of their profession within the communities they serve.”
While interviewing Kevin and Jim, I was astounded to hear the statistics they shared regarding the toll exacted on those who serve in these vocations and their families. Remember that talk of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD was not as common in the latter 20th century as it is today. Uppermost in the minds of McInnes and Amsing was establishing a viable support network for assisting law-enforcement personnel and their loved ones cope with the domestic stresses associated with simply putting on a police officer’s uniform.
The cold-blooded murders of the three RCMP constables last week in Moncton underscore the existence of a reality that few can adequately grasp – being a potential target for harm merely by virtue of the clothing we wear or the vehicle we drive.
My interest in this component of daily life has been greatly enhanced by our daughter’s decision to pursue graduate studies in PTSD at Western Michigan University. Following work with the Canadian military while a student at Mount Royal University, she completed a two-year internship in a Calgary stress clinic for those in the previously noted vocations. Her frequent stories of the results of the complicated personal issues encountered by those in high-stress jobs helped me acquire a deeper gratitude for those for whom being in the line of fire is a daily risk. On behalf of our community, therefore , I respectfully salute the fallen of Moncton. And I simultaneously offer a “bravo” to all local police officers, firefighting personnel and emergency personnel. The risks you engage every time you show up for work are deeply, deeply appreciated by us all.
Tim is pastor of Faith Community Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org