Part of the Navajo warrior tradition was the willingness to engage the enemy in battle. The qualities of a warrior included strength, honor, pride, devotion and wisdom. These same qualities and tradition can be found in our modern day warriors. Those who have sworn an oath to serve and protect have shown not only the willingness, but the courage to face whatever comes each day. But the Navajo warriors also knew they needed each other and they knew when to seek the support of the tribe.
The conclusion of Senator Dole’s forward in “Courage After Fire” is very poignant in pointing out true courage. I don’t think I could put it any better. It reads: “In battle, courage means sacrificing our own well-being for fellow soldiers and for our country. After battle, courage means concentrating on and being honest with ourselves, using all the tools we can gather to lead the best life we can, and, by example, giving something to those who will follow in our footsteps.”
A law enforcement officer will experience critical incidents. If you are in this career field long enough you will see death. You may find yourself in a position where you have to take a life, and will very likely know someone who does. It is part of the calling of being in law enforcement.
When you do experience a critical incident, be prepared. Don’t hesitate to embrace your own rituals. Seek strength from your spiritual side and get support from your own faith community. Talk to the Chaplain and get support. This will help build your resilience. Above all, know yourself, and know when you need to have the courage to seek help from a safe person, and then don’t put it off.
Chaplain Terry Morgan is an ordained minister with over 25 years of experience. He has spent over 12 years as a law enforcement chaplain. He was most recently the Senior Chaplain and Executive Director for the Placer County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy, an agency with 63 paid and volunteer chaplains. He is a Master Chaplain Level member of the International Conference of Police Chaplains, and is a member of the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. He is Board Certified in Emergency Crisis Response through the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. And he is a member in good standing, of the California Peer Support Association (CPSA).
Chaplain Morgan earned his Masters degree in Ministry in Public Safety, with an emphasis on Law Enforcement Chaplaincy from Trinity Biblical University and his Bachelors degree in Theology from Pacific Coast Bible College. He has taught Bible college courses, and teaches crisis counseling for chaplains. He is an expert in dealing with traumatic stress, and stress management. He has been frequently published in Officer.com magazine on a variety of topics related to law enforcement. He teaches various ministries how to help their own parishioners through critical incidents, crisis, and traumatic events, while exercising good stress management techniques and preventing compassion fatigue or burn out in their ministers.