OPM Federal Disability Retirement: The Happy Warrior

The linguistic implications are multiple and rich in historical nuances, derived not merely from the combination of words but because of images from the past and residual connotations not always agreed upon but nevertheless trailing like appendages holding on for dear life to a departing conveyor of thoughts, ideas and characters.

It evokes caricatures of contrasting conditions of smiling in the face of adversity; of taking on opponents on the proverbial field of battle despite unwinnable odds, yet with an optimism unable to be undermined; and evocative shadows of withdrawn faces, like the peek behind the kabuki painted cosmetics and the space between the flesh and the Noh mask, that moment when doubt is surely to surface and a moment of realization comes about.  Behind closed doors, does “The Happy Warrior” truly smile, or is there hesitation resurfacing, but not for public consumption?

We honor and value that smiling face in the contest of adversities not our own, and disdain and discard upon the garbage heap of history those who disappoint and destroy our carefully crafted image of the warrior who reveals the felt pain and the loss of control of fear and doubt.  Perhaps it is because we ourselves can only maintain one-half of the equation, and the perfect balance between the “happy” side of yin-yang combination, in contrast to the “warrior” component, leaves us empty and without courage.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must daily put on the impassive Noh mask in order to counter the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service in contending with adversity because of a medical condition, the recognition that in Noh theatre it is expected that as shadows change and perspectives alter, the expression of the Noh mask adapts and reveals character and substance beyond the original intent, may be of some comfort.

The legend of the happy warrior is just that — a residue of days past when history with its feeble memory forgot the tears shed when the transference of the reality of blood and guts to the paper description of battle and fury became lost in the mediocrity of words and wordsmiths.  Life is sometimes too real for even reality to bear.

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, whether psychiatric, physical, or a combination of both, the daily requirement of showing “happiness” despite pain and deteriorating health, and to maintain that armor of a “warrior”, can and does come to a point of irrefutable untenability.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is never a surrender to one side or the other of the unfair equation beset by a societal image of who we are, what we are supposed to be, or where we are meant to go.  Instead, the simple formula for the first half of the combination is:  Take care of one’s health first, and let the rest and residue scatter to cubbyholes in faraway places.

And once that has been taken care of, the second half:  Prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, precisely because one’s health is paramount in this progressively uncaring universe, and attaining a level of restorative health can only become a reality when once the armor which protected begins to show the chinks of time and deterioration, and where the component of “happy” can no longer stand alongside the “warrior” within, and it is time to move on to another day, a greater battle, and a more winnable war.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Declination of Laughter

A Smiling USGS Employee

The Declination of Laughter

Does lack of laughter signify anything?  If a person was known to laugh a lot, then one day comes in with nary a chuckle, is it significant at all?  Is it the reverberation from the throat, or the eyes which reveal an underlying sadness, which tells the true tale of a person’s state of mind?  Can a person be in so much pain that he laughs out loud?  Why is it that there is such a thin and almost invisible line between laughter, insanity, and loss of control?

For the often contentious circumstances which surround and infiltrate the context and content of a Federal or Postal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question of the declination of laughter, whether by one’s Supervisor, the applicant who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, coworkers, or even family members away from the workplace, can be a telling factor on the spectrum and scale of who we are, what is being done, and what people are thinking.

In the end, life is a serious matter; medical conditions are no laughing matter; actions which impact the substantive future of individuals should be engaged with seriousness and consideration.  Ultimately, it is that dissonance between the mirthless eyes and the resonance of sound which is interpreted as laughter, which should concern everyone.

For the Federal or Postal Worker filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the time of laughter may not occur until well after the attainment of that goal; and even then, the daily problems of life must still be faced, including one’s ongoing medical conditions.  But, at least, the mirthless state of one’s workplace will have been left behind, and with it, the stresses of trying to figure out the intent and motivation behind that Supervisor’s laughter who, just the day before, metaphorically stabbed another coworker in the proverbial backside.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Hearty Laughter

Laughter is therapeutic; it is an expression, often spontaneous, responding to an event, a circumstance, a joke; sometimes, merely upon meeting an old friend and becoming flooded with reminiscences of mirthful times long ago.

It is a response of physical, emotional and mental totality; the body reverberates with joy and the echoes emanating from deep within; the flood of emotions are released; the mind becomes relaxed and unguarded.  Often, however, it is the eyes which are most telling.  Listen to a person laughing, and you may be fooled; watch a person’s eyes as he laughs, and it may reveal a dissonance which contradicts and raises suspicions.  For, laughter can also be the veil which attempts to conceal.

Similarly, in this economy of heartless efficiency, the Federal and Postal worker who must daily attempt to work through one’s pain or psychiatric condition in order to continue to work, despite suffering from a medical condition such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, there comes a point where the capacity to present one’s self contradicts the reality of what is actually occurring.

Most Federal and Postal workers are such dedicated workers that they continue to work through a progressively deteriorating medical condition to one’s ultimate detriment.  At some point, the dissonance and contradiction will reveal itself; and it is at such a crisis point when the Federal and Postal Worker comes to realize that Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must be considered.

Whether one should wait until that flashpoint arrives is an individual matter.  But like the hearty laughter emanating from the deep chasms of a person whose eyes reveal pain and sadness, the Federal or Postal Worker who continues to put on a brave face each day, knows that as all the world is a stage, the actors must one day face the reality of the world in which we live.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire