I’m back at our house in Iowa. I’d write ‘our home in Iowa’, but I have never felt at home here…
I remember when my Woodsman was laid off, indefinitely, in May 2013. We had a mortgage, a car payment, and four little mouths to feed. My poor husband applied for every job posted within a 400 mile radius. He had numerous interviews. Two job offers. One was in the next state, and, that’s the one he chose to accept.
I can recall the brutal 6-month span we lived a state apart. Me + our 7, 5, 3 and 1 year old; my Woodsman + training academy. Then, my Woodsman was sworn in as a Peace Officer, we closed on our ‘new’ house in Iowa, and moved our entire family 320 miles away from everyone I knew and loved.
Our marriage had survived the stress of living apart and an interstate move with four kids under the age of 8 (and one mastiff, two cats, and an undisclosed number of very fluffy German and Satin angora rabbits). But it would start to show signs of strain after we suffered the first of two miscarriages… In addition to having two of my husband’s co-workers brutally assaulted by inmates.
Then there was the trial that was Seminary, and the related rejection by our home church last year. Another miscarriage. And, four months ago, one of my Woodsman’s CO friends — a shift Captain–committed suicide. Without any warning.
It all became too much for us. Too much death and pain and hopelessness. I think it would be a lot for any couple to cope with…
The day after my Woodsman and I decided to separate this past month, he put in his resignation at work. I knew that he knew that his job– where a normal day could include cutting down an inmate before they succumbed to self-inflicted strangulation, or cleaning up pieces of human brain from cell walls after a violent inmate altercation– was a source of stress that needed to go.
The latest statistics on working in Corrections has the suicide rate among COs being twice as high as that of other Law Enforcement and the general population.
The average lifespan of a CO is 58 years. That’s 20 years less than the National average. The average CO lives an average of only 18 months past the date of their retirement.
The mortality rate is higher among CO’s than any other occupation.
Then, of course, there is the ever increasing divorce rate…
I wish I had known this beforehand. I wish I had known that working in Corrections would take such a toll on my husband, our marriage, and our family.
It’s not worth it.
The pay, the State benefit package… It’s all for nought if it ultimately destroys our family life and marks my Woodsman for an early grave.
Tonight is his very last night as a CO.
While I am nervous over what tomorrow holds for our family, I am also relieved. No more sleepless nights worrying over whether or not my husband will return from work unharmed. No more 60 hr work weeks. No more daily despair over a system that chips away at the dignity and humanity of both inmate and officer. And their respective families.
Tomorrow, we start packing. I don’t know where we are moving to yet. And I don’t care, as long as it is far removed from this place that has bore me nothing but sorrow, grief, and loneliness.
I don’t care if we still have a house here in Iowa. I’m ready to go home!