Two books, two perspectives, one marriage
Author Robert J Verbree and his wife, Ruth J Verbree have written companion memoirs on life as a cop – and life married to a cop. My Life With A Cop – How To Survive The Ride by Ruth, and Robert’s memoir, My Life as a Cop Police Stories, PTSD and a Promise.
First Post – Vanderhoof, BC
Robert Verbree completed RCMP training and was immediately stationed in Vanderhoof, BC in February, 1980. Thousands of kilometres from his family, arriving to temperatures of -30 celsius, his boss provided this advice: “Don’t shoot yourself.”
The advice came as a reference to a recent incident in Vanderhoof, BC where a young RCMP member got involved in a love triangle that ended badly.
Crazy Police Stories
The author, Robert J Verbree, shares some of the incidents he was involved with while with the RCMP, including stories of the Zoo bar in Fort St. James, a call to a very strict Mennonite Church in Vanderhoof and high-speed chases as a member of the highway patrol.
The chapter “Crazy Police Stories” will make you laugh out loud at some of the situations we humans put ourselves in, but also sad for the state of humanity.
Marriage to a Vanderhoof girl
Robert Verbree met and married his wife while stationed in Vanderhoof, local Ruth Martens, who he credits for supporting him through his long, often stressful career and recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Stationed in Vanderhoof, BC, Hope, Kamloops, Prince George and Williams Lake over his 35 year RCMP career, RCMP member Robert Verbree policed in a time when gun violence was relatively minimal but dangerous, volatile situations were the norm.
The stress of police work was and is compounded by external factors, such as political interference from those who don’t understand what the RCMP do, politicians with their own agendas and criticism from the public and media.
The author discusses the difficulties of turning work off while home with family and friends and the exhaustion of long shifts and being on call, remaining positive in the face of negativity, and the lack of resources that were in place for RCMP members who continually faced traumatizing situations.
Lack of resources
Counselling, stress debriefings and care and concern for the mental health of RCMP members wasn’t a priority, and talking about ones feelings wasn’t considered acceptable in the force. Maintaining a tough exterior, not letting on that incidents had emotional impacts was the only acceptable course of action. Dubbed “choir practice,” an unofficial gathering of officers, usually involving alcohol and always with machismo, men would gather and discuss incidents – but never feelings. The author writes:
“PTSD is like a cut on one’s finger. That small cut will almost always heal, but there is always a scar that remains and though it may fade with time, it will always be present.” There are skills to cover up that scar, to keep oneself level, but they must be learned – and it takes more than a 40-pounder and one session of choir practice.”
It was much later in author Robert Verbree’s career that professional debriefing was introduced and its value was immediately apparent, unfortunately its introduction came too late for many RCMP members.
Ending his review of his 35-year career as an RCMP member, author Robert Verbree reflects on those he had dealings with over the years, “I do hope that I treated them all with the respect they were due from me, as one in authority.”
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
It was immediately following his retirement that full-scale post-traumatic stress disorder took author Robert Verbree to the depths of darkness. His wife, Ruth Verbree, shares, “My husband, Robert, served in the RCMP for 35 years, and retired as a Sergeant. He served his country with great pride, and only after he retired did he succumb to PTSD.”
The remainder of the book details Robert’s battle with PTSD, the treatments, the setbacks and victories, the support and struggles he and his family faced. The book provides insight into PTSD causes, barriers first responders face in recognizing and obtaining treatment, medical and alternative therapies, and author’s very personal spiritual journey and beliefs that sustained him.
In this memoir, author Robert J. Verbree shares both humorous and tragic real life police stories from his 35 years of serving as a Peace Officer. His perspective on life and his deep faith in God is what helped him get through the challenges he faced over his years of service. Verbree talks openly about his journey with PTSD and how he struggled to crawl out from the darkness that overtook him. This true to life struggle gives readers an inside look on what First Responders must face in their careers with life and death issues. His take on critical thinking is enlightening and the promise gives hope for a brighter future.
Resources and Support – PTSD Battle Plan
“Exploring Mental Health” (clickable link to Amazon.ca download page) takes a look at different aspects of a person’s mental health from a big picture perspective. What does it mean to be mentally healthy? And vice-versa, what does it mean to be mentally ill? As the book progresses, it explores different psychological ideas – what is stress? Can stress be good? When is it ok to run away from a difficult situation?
After reading “Exploring Mental Health”, the reader will come away with a much clearer picture of how their own mental health fluctuates on a day to day basis, and in turn, will be able to face the trials of daily life with a new sense of confidence.
“Exploring Mental Health” takes a look at different aspects of a person’s mental health from a big picture perspective. What does it mean to be mentally healthy? And vice-versa, what does it mean to be mentally ill? As the book progresses, it explores different psychological ideas – what is stress? Can stress be good? When is it ok to run away from a difficult situation?
Authors Robert and Ruth Verbree and family members are founders of the Canadian company, PTSD Battle Plan. The company’s mission is “to proactively prepare people to deal with trauma in careers that are prone/susceptible to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
”Funds raised will be used to develop “a course, website, workbook and anthology to help those with PTSD.”
Where to buy the books
Locally, My Life As A Cop – Police Stories, PTSD & A Promise and My Life With A Cop – How To Survive The Ride by Robert J and Ruth J Verbree are available at the Vanderhoof (Four Rivers) Co-op mall food floor.
The books can also be purchased online.
Think you know Vanderhoof, B.C.? Think again!
Pick up copies of these local books (15 Must Read Local Books) and explore Vanderhoof, B.C. and Saik’uz history, read about local heroes and celebrities and learn about nearby places you didn’t even know existed.