Goodbye, Farewell, Amen

Another Mountie has taken his life, because of  post traumatic stress, and the R.C.M.P’s inability to care for its members who are terribly damaged by the work they have sworn to do, to serve and to protect.
 
This is very hard to hear. 
 
There is a brotherhood and sisterhood with mounties, whether or not we ever met each other, we share the training, intense, exhausting, intimate…we share the risks, we share the courage, the insecurities, the fear, the laughter/dark humor that often only we can appreciate, the bad days the good days. 
 
The first officer suicide that hit me was my troopmate, Manon Chamberlain, less than a year out of training, she shot herself with her service revolver, a young woman I lived with and shared meals with and classes with and drill with for 6 agonizing months. 
 
Traditionally in a troop, back then anyway, the french girls didn’t really like the english girls, but Manon and I bonded over bringing up the rear in most five mile runs! I miss her even though I probably would not have seen her again after depot. 
 
The lives of front line personnel are not easy. They/we have seen things only soldiers in combat can imagine. You don’t go home and walk it off. It stays with you as a permanent blemish on your heart and mind, a lump in your throat you try to swallow away but it comes back, over and over, the more you see, the more justice lets you down. 
 
We only hear of the police officers who die in the line of fire, never much who die from the fire in their souls, from failing at fixing things that just cannot be fixed, failing to serve and protect the way we intended. I have seen horrific things. My family does not know about it nor will they ever know. I am happy my career in the RCMP was not a long one because I think I was spared far more pain and trauma than many of my colleagues who take that with them into retirement, hopefully to a natural old aged death. The next time you criticize a cop for being rude or arrogant or unfair or unfriendly or make donut shop jokes or call them pigs or worse……think about my brother Ken Barker, and all the men and women on the front lines, from 911 operators to paramedics to firemen and women to emergency room staff, and then decide if you can walk perfectly in their shoes. Or if you even would want to.
Godspeed Ken….I honor you.

You were fabulous.

Sian Thomson, #37559

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