The sensation of drowning is one which horrifies most individuals; everyone has experienced an event involving being submerged in a body of water, and feeling helpless and without control of surrounding circumstances. It is precisely that sensation of loss of control — where one’s legs cannot locate a foundation upon which to escape; where the steadiness of firm ground is not there to provide the necessary support; and where the body of water continues to overwhelm, surround, and ultimately overtake; the horror of drowning is thus the proverbial metaphor for trials which one faces in life.
For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a sudden onset of a medical condition, or from one which has shown to be a chronic condition which slowly, progressively, and intractably deteriorates one’s physical and/or cognitive functions, the phenomena of drowning as an analogy for one’s experiential encounter with life’s difficulties will not be a stranger.
In such circumstances, one is told to “remain calm”, to engage in physical maneuvers in order to keep afloat, etc. — but to panic is the death knell in such situations. Such advice is easily stated in the calm of one’s life; when one is in the midst of such circumstances, such sage advice is abandoned for the immediacy of reactionary decisions. However, if an available option is presented to allow for a solution to an exigent circumstance, it would be a natural next step to accept the “other” proverbial, metaphorically oft-used word-picture: the life flotation device.
Federal Disability Retirement is an employee benefit for the purpose of providing a base retirement annuity for those Civil Service employees who suffer from a disabling medical condition such that the disabling medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal job. It is there to provide that foundation for the Federal or Postal employee who is experiencing that drowning sensation within the Federal sector.
Consider it a life-saving flotation device — one which may provide the fertility of the earth in an environment filled with overwhelming circumstances of life’s unexpected encounters — not involving merely the metaphor of water, but all of the sharks which surround us, as well.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire