The Double Edged Sword of Assisting

Today and tomorrow, I am taking a military course called the “Assisting Officer Course” for Casualty administration. To put it simply, and bear in mind, this certainly doesn’t cover all that the course has to offer, the Assisting Officer would be assigned to a military member who is ill or injured, or to the family of a member who has passed away in order to serve as a liaison and ensure they have everything they need. It is a difficult job but we all try to keep in mind that it is far more difficult for the person coping with the injury or for the family grieving the loss of their loved one. The Assisting Officer would advise on policies and benefits the person is entitled to as well as fielding calls from other military entities and ensuring the member has family close by and arranging travel. It all sounds very technical. But at the same time, it is a duty that requires a lot of compassion and caring; a job I that feel would give me such purpose. But at the same time, I hope I never have to do it, because that means someone has passed away or been injured in a way that their life will be forever altered. The main thing they teach you on this course is to try to maintain an emotional distance in order to protect your own mental health. They also fully acknowledge that this is nearly entirely impossible because you are with the family during such an emotional time in their lives so unless you’re made of stone (and since I cry at the Christmas Duracell commercial, I doubt I fall into this category), you’re likely to become entwined. This is why most people only serve as an Assisting Officer once in their entire career. It is just too difficult. But at the same time, so rewarding. You’ve done your best to comfort someone in what was the most horrendous time in their lives. So here’s hoping that no one ever has to suffer so that I take on this duty. Because although I’m glad this system is in place to look after our members and their families, I also begrudge it’s existence because it means that soldiers are getting seriously injured and losing their lives. And although we know it’s a possibility when we sign on the dotted line, it just doesn’t seem right. And that is the greatest tragedy of all. Kelly

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