OPM Disability Retirement Benefits for Federal Employees: The bugle

Unlike its cousins, it has no valves or pitch-altering devices, but must be modified through the movement of the lips, the extent of breath exhaled and the undulating modifications of combined muscles in the lips, tongue and throat.  Perhaps from the days of riding a horse in the cavalry, where playing an instrument while charging full force ahead on a horse stumbling across rough terrain forced the instrument’s player to modulate through strain of keeping one’s self from falling; in any event, its very lack of complexity belies the simplicity of the bugle, as appearances are indeed deceiving.

Whether playing Taps in that mournful tone, or reveille in that jarring sound as the signal to awaken for morning roll call, or the charge to execute a cavalry or infantry advancement — that frightening sound to Indian tribes signifying the destruction of a culture long awaiting death – its class of variety extends well beyond most choices provided.

Trumpets of all sorts may be included in the family – from Piccolo trumpets, slide trumpets and multiple others from A to G and beyond; but the bugle stands alone in its structural simplicity and reliance upon the creativity of the holder who dares to attempt to master its range of pitches by the vocal creativity and lips pursed in controlled spurts of exhaling the intricacies of man’s attachment to inert objects to fill the air with sounds unnatural but for the beauty of music.

That range of pitches – from the morning call to awaken with energy reverberating from a cadence of jolting magnitude; to the charging rampage of a galloping horse; to the sorrowful tears of life’s end represented by the draping of a flag upon the coffin; these, in their collective entirety, depict the spectrum of life:  Of youthful exuberance; to middle-aged hope and faith; to the black veil of a life well lived; the sound of the bugle encompasses all.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find themselves in that twilight of life’s stages – somewhere beyond the youthful enthusiasm, but well before the illumination reflected by the funeral pyre – perhaps it is the sound of the bugle in the last stages of reveille, before the first note of Taps is emitted; and the medical condition has blanketed the tone, quality and loudness of the music of life, and a further stanza of a narrative interrupted must be composed.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is like the bugler’s call to order, and sometimes the sound of music must be heard at the end of a piece, and a pause must be endured, before the beginning of the next.  That is the challenge and the beauty of the bugle – an instrument for all stages in the pendulum of life’s musical quality.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Those spaces in between

Between each word; separating being from nothingness; that which allows for something is contingent upon the void that distinguishes, and without the lack there can be no substance.  Time doesn’t exist without space for movement of bodies of mass; such stillness echoes the lack of reverberating sounds, where waves bounce from one object to the next, and where Oneness of universe means that the clock no longer matters.  Of life, we imagine the same: there are interludes, but we tend to skip the pain and sorrow between the covers of hidden privacy.

Thus do we abide by the antiseptic, sterilized version of our scripted thoughts within ourselves:  birth; a relatively uneventful childhood; completion of educational goals; a career; retirement; and, despite a last gasp in attempting to defy the rules of mortality, death and a funeral projected where weeping and wailing echoes through the indignities of relatives uncaring during the days of living, with sweet revenge of the last laugh leaving behind the mystery of the beyond.

But what of those spaces in between?

Of chronic medical conditions; of pain beyond mere superficial groans; of hospitalizations, having tubes inserted into every imaginable orifice and pricked, prodded and pummeled with tests and artificial means for purposes of extending breath, heartbeat and pulse.

Only in recent times have we breached the decorum of unspoken sensitivities, and allowed for scenes in movies to reveal private functions behind bathroom doors beyond brushing one’s teeth or combing the hair over that bald spot – not that the audience necessarily needs to view such scenes, but somehow, such depictions apparently manifest the avant-garde in each of us and reveals the sophistication we all sought, like days of old when smoking cigarettes with those ridiculously long-looking holders was the trend to follow, merely because someone else did it, and we were told that such was the fashion of the day and represented the height of elegance in posture.

It is, at least in movies, those spaces in between that the characters presumably go to the bathroom, end up in the hospital and suffer in quiet agony; we just don’t see much, or any, of it, except in recent times.  And so we are filling those spaces in between; not merely with more punctuations, or hyphenations unnecessary but to bridge the gap between words and concepts, but in real life as well, by recognizing that life rarely follows a clean sequence of uninterrupted successions of advancement and teleological awareness, but often has detours, hiccups and sometimes valleys beyond which no one else would want to venture.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, those spaces in between are already known and recognized.  For, the medical condition itself constitutes the empty pauses between many of life’s successes, and the challenges faced in deciding to end a career otherwise fruitful and productive, to be now replaced with a fight against the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to force them to acknowledge eligibility and entitlement to Federal Disability Retirement benefits, is itself the “filling in” of those very spaces we all must face, in between.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire