Gallows humor, smell-triggered memories, and administrative betrayal

Good podcast episode from Always In Pursuit.

SGT Retired Michael Sugrue served as a police officer for 14 years and also served in the Air Force as an officer in the Raven Program. After 8 years as a police officer, he would answer a call that would forever change his life. What ensued for the rest of his career can be described as a perfect storm of trauma. 

There is some really good stuff in this episode. The three things that stood out for me were the ultimate futility of gallows humor, the way that smells trigger memories more than anything else, and the concept of “admin betrayal.”

There’s also a great discussion on the way that service changes over time. Whether it is the military or law enforcement, no one can tell you what it’s going to do to you. You will be changed completely. And even if someone could tell you that, it wouldn’t matter. It’s a strange tragedy.

I’ve written about this before. The dark humor that gets folks in tough jobs through the day (military, law enforcement) doesn’t actually help with processing it over time. There comes a point where you have to turn to “serious talk” if you want to move forward.

Do you remember the smell under the body armor? It remembers you.

Administrative or “admin” betrayal is what happens when the organization that you worked and bled for turns the other way. We see this a lot. Organizations like to be inclusive and like to consider themselves a “family.” Well, what happens when a family member gets in trouble? or is struggling? Does a family throw that person out, or does it help?

A fascinating episode and worth the listen.


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