On May 30th, I will be traveling to New York City to participate in “The First Responders Walk Up Broadway” parade. The purpose of this event is to pay respect to all of those who responded on 9/11 and served at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Flight 93 sites. These responders sacrificed their lives to work tirelessly to rescue the injured, secure the sites, recover the remains of those lost and restore order to all of our lives. Over the days, months and years of work completed, they not only continued to put their lives on the line, but opened their hearts to their fellow responders and the many families who lost their loved ones on that fateful day.

Over ten years of memories, have caused me to remain silent and lose my voice. Over ten years of pain and sorrow have isolated me from those whom I once served with in the law enforcement profession. I have waited for the opportunity to once again stand tall and proud and not be ashamed of becoming ill.

Now, in this time of a decade past, I have learned I do not stand alone. I stand shoulder to shoulder with the other responders who have lost their lives or live with the multitude of diseases which destroyed their once powerful bodies and brilliant minds. I stand side-by-side with the others who remain on this earth. I embrace the chance to shake their hands and welcome them as my friends. Each of us has shared a journey which is not complete. Yet, each of us lives in the full understanding of what we have left behind. We not only lost our colleagues in the pits of the smoldering towers, in the burning building of the Pentagon, and on a barren field, but we have lost them to the pain and suffering of the dreaded illnesses which have afflicted all too many.

In memory of those lost and in keeping with those left behind, I now hold my head up high to be counted as one of the walking wounded who comprehends the burden carried. I suffer with the invisible trauma which I carry within the recesses of body, mind and soul. I am the face of PTSD.

On this day, I give thanks to the coordinators of this wonderful event. You are to be commended for your efforts in shedding some light on the plight of the responders who served on 9/11, who lost their lives, who were left behind and those who still suffer from the impact of that September day.