Emotional Preparation for Retirement – Adjusting to Civilian Life for Public Safety Personnel

by Chaplain Jim Burns

Chaplain Jim Burns

Those of us in public safety careers – law enforcement, fire service, are usually gung-ho, Type A personalities, self-reliant, confident and sometimes even a little cocky. We love excitement. We feel there is nothing we can’t do; we’re self-important, helpers, fixers, we need to be needed, and we enjoy being the front-line of defense and first responders when something goes terribly wrong in our neighborhoods, our districts and our jurisdictions.
In the academy. we learn to be tough, to be a team player, to follow orders to the letter, to fit into the chain of command, to practice our particular skill sets until they become second nature. During our years of service, we continue to train to be the best police officer, firefighter, or chaplain that we are capable of being. We learn about critical incident stress and how to manage it. We practice working under extreme stress. We train, train, and train some more. We are among the best of the best at what we do.

But have you thought about what you will do when you are no longer firefighter Jones, or officer Jones, or Chaplain Jones? Public safety careers are lifestyle careers. Many police officers and firefighters die in the line of duty or die of other causes while still serving and protecting their constituency. Some, however, will outlive their career. One of these days those careers could come to an end and we could still have life left at the end of the career. What then? Continue reading