I am saddened this morning by the news of the death of PC David Rathband, the Northumbria police officer blinded by Raoul Moat in 2010.
While we know the circumstances of David's injuries and his life and charity work since, including the break up of his marriage, I don't think we can really understand the problems faced by people severely disabled in public service.
Soldiers suffering horrific injuries in Afghanistan or even injuries closer to home on exercise or while training as well as those members of the emergency services, need particular and long term support to rebuild their lives.
The problem is we have is we are not sure how to do this.
There is a tendency, these days, for injured officers to be rehabilitated within the police family, finds them an opportunity suited to their particular needs. I simply don't think this is the best thing to do.
David Rathband wanted to return to the police service and I admire his courage and determination but by doing so, everyday he would be reminded of what he CAN'T do rather than having the satisfaction of working at what he CAN do.
Putting on a uniform each day to go to work at a job you CAN'T fully do is kidding yourself that things haven't changed when they clearly have. It is perpetuating a deception which denies the officer to move on with a new life.
Indeed, this is the answer for everyone suffering a disability - work with them to find opportunities where they can have a positive life experience.
We have a duty to these officers, soldiers, firefighters, etc. to work with them to allow them to realise the potential within the confines of their disabilities.
While we celebrate the life of David Rathband let's change the way we deal with everyone who's life is changed by accident, illness or incident. Let's rethink our actions and our attitudes.
Published: March 1, 2012
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