Op and K-9 Kain
Hello. My name is OP. My story starts as a troubled kid with divorced parents at a young age. My Dad was a very successful K9 handler which to this day I am very proud of him. There was a down side to his career as a police K9 officer and the success he achieved. He worked so much and trained his dog so much I didn’t get to see him a lot. As I grew into a teenager, I started making bad choices. I had been in court and juvenile systems numerous times. I was homeless for a period of time because I didn’t want to follow rules. I dropped out of school. My Dad was undoubtedly disappointed in me as his son.
I apparently was smart enough that when I turned 18, I stopped my criminal endeavors because I knew I didn’t want any of my poor decisions to end up on my adult record. Plus I was tired of being a disappointment to my Dad. I decided I wanted to pursue a career as a police officer. Growing up with it and being proud of my Dad, I knew this was for me (plus I don’t like the other end of it). Being impatient, I didn’t want to wait for a few years to get older and go through school so I decided to join the army as an MP. I got my GED and off I went.
I was in the Army for 3 years. I loved parts of it and hated others however it was the best thing for this troubled teen. I was deployed 4 days prior to September 11th, 2001. As one could imagine, this was beyond difficult to comprehend and immediately we were in a war zone. There were some things that happened but nothing compared to what some had to go through so I will hold onto those memories. What I will say is the war was bad and lots of people suffered, to include people I was enlisted with.
I came back, met my wonderful wife, and got out with an honorable discharge. I never felt good about dropping out of school so I went to college, got a degree and put myself through a police academy. I became a police officer and it was something I enjoyed for many years and prior to that, dreamed of becoming someday. It turns out, after 18 years of law enforcement, it’s not what I thought it would be. I have dealt with countless traumatic events. I have been exposed to a part of humanity that people should not see. I have seen more dead bodies than I ever would have guessed a police officer would see. I have seen cases of abuse involving everything from infants to the elderly. I have been in many fights and situations where people are extremely mean. I have had my life, my wife's life, and my children’s lives threatened by people who knew us outside of the reason for me contacting them. I have responded to active shooters and officer involved shootings. I had a mother ask me, in tears and breaking down in front of me as she hit the top part of my chest while I was in my uniform, why did I let her husband out of jail the week prior and why did I let her two children die. The husband being the one who killed them after getting out of jail. I believed, via dispatch, that a friend and fellow officer of mine had been shot and killed while on duty at the same time as I was working. I believed this for approximately 1 ½ hours. I finally learned that he did get shot in the stomach, but was not dead. I have been stuck with needles, spit on which landed in my
face and mouth. I responded to a man who shot his fingers off and as I was walking through a massive amount of blood from him, getting it on me. He advised me later he had aids. I have been taken to the emergency room countless times due to events I’ve been involved with. I mentored a 16 year old high school student who had an abusive father. I made an impact with this child as he would make a point to visit with me at football games, at the school, on the street, or any opportunity he had to say hi. He would regularly come up to me, and my family when I was off duty, and make sure he introduced himself to my wife and check to see how I was doing. I felt this was a very positive part of my career. After a couple of years with this happening, I learned he had been shot and killed in a drive by shooting.
This is but a very tiny glimpse of impacting situations that I fear, over many years, have impacted me now to the point where my body has physical reactions that hinder me. I had and still have nightmares, panic attacks, a thriving desire to be away from areas I’ve worked, shakes, not being around crowds, looking at the worst in people, my memory has gotten beyond bad, anger, and a host of other consequences of my path. The major issue I have is very hard to explain. What I can say easily is I have repeatedly tried, over many years, to seek a remedy through medical treatment, diet, exercise, medication, counseling, drinking and many other ways to fix this. I was unsuccessful. As a police officer and a sergeant, I did not want to admit to this as it appears as weakness. I also did not want this to affect my career so I did not share this with many people, I was able to hide it. I had an internal, day to day struggle. My family has also suffered greatly. I decided I must make a change for not only myself and my family, the officers I work with, but any other people who would rely on me in an emergency situation. It deeply saddens me that this is the outcome of a once, lifelong dream. This is also very embarrassing and difficult to share with others. This is not the person others know me as. They know me as a strong leader, strong officer, strong father, strong husband, and a strong man; not what I have described in the above words.
It has been difficult telling about some of this because some 1st responders and military have dealt with a lot more than me. I'm telling these stories because I’m still not sure that they should impact me the way they have, but unfortunately they do. I know I struggle every day and my family continues to suffer, though not as bad since I have been diagnosed with PTSD, depression, and anxiety and I have been getting treatment for the last 3 plus years and I am hopeful it will continue to get better.
Talking with Ed and learning about these dogs is a very encouraging thought and I hope to be part of the incredible healing this program has to offer.