Margie Smith, from the Law Officer Facebook page, posted that she would like to see law enforcement agencies implement mandatory psychological treatment just before or after retirement, stating that the average death after retirement is five years. Margie ended her post by writing that her 49-year-old husband took his own life one month after he retired.
Margie, I’m very sorry for your loss and the loss to your entire family. Thank you for your husband’s service to his community and for yours as the spouse of an officer.
Her post really brings up two issues: longevity after retirement (which I’ll discuss here) and mandatory psychological treatment for officers (a topic I’m scared of, but will take a crack at next month).
Longevity After Retirement
Police retirements start earlier than other jobs because the little bean counters came to the similar conclusion as Margie: Cops should have a chance to spend their retirements so let’s get them out at or near 50, and pay them enough to want to leave. I did a quick search online and I couldn’t find anything supporting the idea that cops die soon after they retire. I do know that old wives’ tales come from somewhere, and telling a bunch of cop’s widows they don’t know what they’re talking about can be as dangerous as doing an imitation of William Tell’s son—with an apple on your head—on the first range day at any academy. Besides, those bean counters did the math and concluded it’s OK to let cops start pulling their retirement earlier. So I’ll lay out my two-part plan for leading a long and happy life after you’re done chasing crooks.
Now, I know you’re going to say that Ol’ Bullethead’s starting to sound like a broken record, but stick with me and maybe you’ll find I’m not crazy. Regardless of profession, exercise and diet are the best ways to live long enough to spend all that money you worked hard to earn and save. I’ve heard it way too many times before: “I jacked up my knee, so I don’t exercise much anymore.” The next thing you know that same cop needs all new uniforms because they just gained ten pant sizes. These same morons are the ones who still eat like they’re 22 years old—donuts for breakfast, fast food for lunch and a pizza for dinner. It’s time to grow up, folks!
Frequent the Gym
You don’t need to be a gym rat to reap the benefits of exercise. Forty-five minutes, four times a week, will get you pretty close. Stick to it for a year and see what happens. After two months, you’ll likely start doing more varied and extended workouts. Next thing you know, you’ll be trying out a few local competitions and loving life. As I was dragging myself from the gym the other day I told my coach, “Best stress reliever on the planet is training till I’m too tired to care about anything else!” I know I’m out on the fringe because I still like to go head-to-head during workouts with the youngsters and make them look silly. It’s getting harder every year and I can’t always pull it off. But I can always set the example by giving it my all.
Portion Control is Key
Diet is the easy part. Stay away from the crazy fad diets and eat balanced meals. Not too much protein and not too many carbs, and lots of fruits and veggies. Portion control is by far the most important part to maintain. I know you read in My Muscles are Bigger than Yours magazine about some special diet and supplement combo, like snake oil, but if you’re a working cop and you want to be in shape and live a long happy life, save your money and time. Just reduce the amount of food you suck into your pie hole.
Have a Plan
The second part of longevity is having a plan. The guys who drop dead are the ones who hit retirement like it’s their weekend between shifts. They wake up late and start drinking. That’s a quick recipe for disaster and will leave your kids all the money you saved up. That won’t be the case for Ol’ Bullethead though: The Capheads will be set by then and I plan on living long enough so that the last check I write is to the funeral home.
What I’m saying is, start planning now and don’t be afraid to change the plan as you go. Whether it’s a second career, getting your golf score down to scratch, following your kids around in a motor home—whatever it is, make a plan. Then save enough money to carry it out. Your orders are simple this month: Eat right, exercise and start planning so you can live long enough to enjoy the years of retirement.