The common remark against the American culture is that it lacks any stabilizing force of tradition. That is a fair criticism, given that it has emerged from a recognized “Old World” and designated as the “New World”; and, indeed, it is where cultures and traditions were left behind, in search of a fresh beginning and open opportunities to remake one’s self, the future, etc., and thus leaving behind the past and old ways of living and thinking.
That is the macro-cultural perspective; but within the microcosm of one’s insular universe, the privacy of small pockets of traditions form. Individuals and families perform acts, engage in daily living and embrace repetitive forms of normative establishments, thereby creating private dwellings of tradition. Yes, the concept of tradition normally is comprised of the transmission of an established set of values, beliefs, etc., from generation to generation; but if there exists none, and freedom and liberty continually interrupts the constancy of cross-generational transference of the old ways, can one “create” a tradition within a family, a group, or an individual?
For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, the vacuum of a lack of tradition necessitates finding security and refuge in one’s family and the daily, repetitive connection with one’s Federal or Postal employment. That is why filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is often an extremely traumatic event. Where values and self-identity are formed within the context of one’s employment, and where such identification of self extends for years and decades back to one’s family, the sudden interruption and dismantling of a lifetime of daily routine in performing the essential elements of one’s job, is indeed a trying and difficult time.
If “tradition” is likened to “routine”, and instead of inter-generational transmission of values, it is replaced with a set of constancy of actions over an expansive period of time, then the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management can be likened to the sudden uprooting of a person who must travel from the “Old World” to the New World.
What devastating impact upon the psyche must have occurred upon arrival to a strange land. But then, such psychology of trauma must be similarly experienced by the Federal or Postal worker who loves his job, but where a medical condition suddenly necessitates the sudden demise of working for a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service; and where one’s self-identity must now change because he or she can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job. Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS-Offset, the Federal or Postal worker who, as a result of a medical condition, can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, can file for, and become eligible to receive, Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Yes, it can be a traumatic event; and, yes, it can be the destruction of a tradition of years of established routines in one’s life. But like the immigrant of old who had to uproot from a land where opportunities faded and starved, the Federal and Postal worker who files for Federal OPM Disability Retirement must look to the future, and follow the sage advice of old, as Horace Greeley is said to have quipped, and to “Go West, young man…”
Robert R. McGill, Esquire