People don’t walk away from a career in public service without missing the sense of mission that such a career gives. Few are the individuals who have worked in law enforcement that have not faced the highs and lows that the job brings with it. Many of the experiences, both positive and negative are seared into the memories of police officers around the world. The grateful stranded motorist contrasted with the scene of a murder-suicide both form the character of a police officer. The ability to cope with scenes of horrific devastation is tested from time to time but frequently offset by taking an ill child to hospital for recovery. Being a police officer is a unique calling where common sense is the principal fall-back for tools to deal with difficult situations. Split-second decisions that can save a life are the stock and trade of an individual working in law enforcement. There are no committees to decide on a course of action – frequently it is a committee of one that must decide on what course to follow. Urgent situations preclude extensive discussion.
There are any number of fraternal organizations that have formed over the years to bring together people with common interests. The sharing of knowledge related to such diverse topics as philately and motorcycles brings a great deal of pleasure to the participants. History buffs can discuss recent discoveries of long lost ships (the U.S. Civil War Confederate blockade runner, the Agnes E. Fry comes to mind) or recent developments in GPS technology (for geocaching enthusiasts).
Other organizations may combine the sharing of knowledge with the desire to do good works. For many police officers the sense of duty continues on after they have left their respective Forces/Services. Whether it be helping out other officers who may find themselves in difficulty after leaving or providing assistance to the general public either through direct intervention or through the auspices of organizations committed to good works, the traditions learned through a career of helping others are difficult to set aside.
This spirit of helping fostered the creation of the RCMP Veterans’ Association which was formed many years ago by the original members of the Force which was then known as the North West Mounted Police or NWMP. Over the intervening years the Association has grown as the RCMP has grown. The Association now boasts some 30 Divisions across Canada most of which are involved in looking after their members and in outreach to their communities. Whether it be health care, retirement benefits or financial support the Divisions are there to help. Many divisions also work with local groups such as in Vancouver the Wildlife Rescue Association or in Toronto the Milton Cadet Corps to continue their careers of public service.
Toronto Division holds get-togethers on the third Wednesday of every month, except July and August and additionally hosts a number of social events during the year including a golf tourney and a Christmas Reception. Our get-togethers often feature speakers on a variety of topics ranging from veterans’ matters (pensions, health care, travel) to the more exotic – explorations in the far north, murder in early Rome. The Royal Canadian Legion kindly furnishes a locale for us which includes an excellent outlay of sandwiches and a hearty reception at the bar.
Toronto Division welcomes new members no matter where you are living (you’ll stay in touch through our “Hoofbeats” newsletter and we would urge you to have a look through our website and those of the other divisions to get a sense of whether the Association is a fit for you and if so send in your application to join.