By William Young Working in Corrections is one of the most dangerous and difficult professions on the planet. Correctional Officers are continuously confronted with trying and traumatic trials testing them both physically and mentally. And I don’t care what you say, I don’t care what statistics the skeptics show, there is no other profession that is as challenging and as damaging then the job of voluntarily protecting your community from individuals that society has deemed unfit to walk in the free world amongst the rest of the population. But I don’t want to talk about that today. Today, I want to acknowledge another group, another sect of unsung and underappreciated heroes that also serve their community without any real respect or recognition. Today, I’d like to talk about the heroes at home. Today, I’d like to populate the praises of the spouses and the children and the family and friends of Correctional Officers, because as difficult as being a Correctional Officer is, even more difficult is being the wife or the husband or the teenage child of a Correctional Officer. See, not only does working inside of a correctional facility change the Officers that are subjected to the sights and the smells and the sounds, but it also changes their families. Officers unknowingly introduce darkness into their domicile because they are unaware, they were unprepared for the psychological damage that this profession can inflict on those brave enough to wear the badge and the boots. The most prominent side effect, the one that the majority of us suffer from is that amount of time that we are forced to work inside. Right now, Correctional Officers throughout the country are working an insane amount of mandatory overtime because there are not enough people to staff the facilities. Last year I worked almost nine-hundred hours of overtime. That’s almost an additional twenty-two weeks’ worth of time that I spent inside, behind the wall. That’s also an additional twenty-two weeks’ worth of time that my wife has been the only one that can take the kids to school. That’s nine-hundred hours that my wife has had to operate as if she is a single parent because the profession doesn’t care if we have plans or not. The profession doesn’t care that we haven’t seen our family in a week or not. My wife has had to become independent, she has learned to do things on her own, and she has had to learn to operate like I’m not around because, well, I’m not around. She tells me she misses me, she loves me, but she no longer needs me. My children have assimilated in a similar fashion. Look, I have no doubt in my mind that my children love me and love seeing me and love having me at home, but when at home, they don’t depend on me for anything. Like my wife, they too have had to become independent; they too have had to adjust their routines, their lifestyle based on the fact that their dad, their father, is not there. They’re used to their father coming home and going right to bed, sleeping for four hours, and going right back to work. It’s almost to the point where they don’t even acknowledge my existence. Then there are the days when I am home and everything seems normal, like it should be. But then it happens. I have an episode. I get pissed for no reason and I start yelling and I start screaming and the little things like my son pouting because I asked him to take out the trash turn me in to a madman. I start overreacting and under reacting to situations. I become distant. I become difficult. And then my wife has to step in and explain to the kids why their father is flipping out, why dad is screaming at them for no reason, and why dad doesn’t seem to care about anything. And that’s on a good day. That’s on a day when I haven’t already turned on her. That’s on a day where I haven’t turned my fear and my anxiety and my anger and my inability to process the things that I’ve witnessed at work into some erratic emotional outburst in response to question about painting the walls what pillows I think look best on the couch. And yet she stays, she soldiers on and handles everything. She plans the birthday parties and she helps with the homework and she shuttles the kids back and forth and she prepares dinner and does the dishes and she feeds the dogs and she pays the bills all while I’m at work. But how fair is that? How fair is it to her that I’m physically and emotionally unavailable? How fair is it to my children that I’m a ghost? This is usually the point in my post where I sum it up, where I give the reader suggestions on how to fix whatever it is I’ve been talking about. The only problem is this time, I don’t have an answer. This time, I don’t know if there is a fix. But I think what we can do is can acknowledge those partners, those spouses, those strong individuals that are at home, that are supporting us, that are holding down our real lives, so that we can go in and fight the good fight, so we can go in with a calm mind and a clear head and do the job that we’re paid to do without worrying about what’s happening on the outside. They’re the ones that deserve the public’s respect there the ones that deserve the accolades and the discount coffee at the local gas station. Not me. Not me. Author Bio William Young started his career as a Correctional Officer in the state of Nebraska in March of 2005. He has worked throughout his facility in various areas ranging from Sanitation to Segregation. William has been an instructor for his facility since 2009, teaching courses such as Emergency Preparedness (LETRA), Stress Management, Motivational Interviewing, and “From Corrections Fatigue to Fulfillment” (CF2F). He is a member of the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) and is the Assistant Coordinator of the Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT). William is the author of “When Home Becomes a Housing Unit”, a book written about how the job can follow an Officer home and how the profession can negatively affect their personal lives. William is a regular contributor to the “Correctional Oasis”, a monthly newsletter published by Desert Waters Correctional Outreach. He has also had articles published on websites such as www.Corrections.com, www.Correctionsone.com, and a blog published by InTime Solutions (www.intime.com) a Canadian based scheduling software company for Law Enforcement agencies. William has also appeared on “Tier Talk”, a YouTube channel dedicated to the Corrections profession. Prior to working in Corrections, William worked at a mortuary transport company where he was responsible for the removal and transport of human remains. Because of his extensive exposure to trauma, William is determined to assist his fellow brothers and sisters by helping them identify, manage, and reverse the side effects and symptoms that surface when subjected to situations that are considered just “part of the job”. William would like to hear from you. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback that you would like to share, please contact him at Justcorrections@gmail.com or visit his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wllmyoung/.
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