There is not a day that goes by that I am not reminded of the sacrifices that have been paid by our fallen officers which we now honor during Police Week. When my husband was shot in the line of duty, he was not expected to live. If he did live, I was told he would be useless and exist without any quality of life.
Mike proved all of them wrong. He went from being an “Officer Down” to “Officer Standing” and is a voice for the many officers that go on living. His mission is witnessed in educating others from his experiences through public speaking, that life is worth living after injury. As Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”
Mike had the freedom to choose how he responded to his traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries that resulted from a gunshot wound to the head. Thinking initially that he had nothing left to live for, he came to the conclusion that his pain and suffering had meaning in his life.
Using his personal struggles as a tool to teach others to explore their own life’s occurrences became his mission as he helps others lead more fulfilling and richer existences. Through a tremendous will to live and an unsurpassable inner drive, Mike pushed himself beyond limitations and gained the strength to walk again after being characterized as a quadriplegic.
Mike felt either that he could listen to others who would ensure he stayed oppressed or he could take a deeper look within himself to help others fight the good fight to build a more resilient mind. Realizing that he could not control life’s events, he focused on his response to the instances, thus gaining control of awareness of choices and actions (Corey, 2013).
Mike will always be a police officer and recognized that he could either be alienated and meaningless or he could use what he had left, which was his voice, to help other injured and/or disabled police officers find their own voice and still be useful members of our law enforcement society.
To many, Mike paid a sacrifice, however from Mike’s perspective he was placed in a position for change to ensue. He motivates others to look at their life experiences as meaningful and as having a reason for occurring whether we understand what the reason is or not (Corey, 2013). Mike has presence and it is important that we all help other officers to allow for meaning to exist in every situation.
When life’s tragedies happen, the possibilities for lessons learned and growth are endless. Understanding that we are not alone and do not have to be isolated after injury is important. Life has a limited amount of time and living life fully allows everyone, injured or not, to gain a broader perspective.
We can take action or not take action, with both being a valid decision (Corey, 2013). By being able to choose how we act we can contribute to creating our own life. Of course, initially Mike wondered why this happened to him because he was “such a good cop”. He repeatedly questioned what he had left to live for.
Reminding him he still could be a police officer, but in a different capacity was ultimately what gave him a new outlook and purpose on life. The day I informed him, “the old Mike died and this is the new Mike, so let’s see what other gifts you possess that you never knew you had” was the day he started to really live again. He was able to tap his potentiality for creativity by giving in to his will to power (Corey, 2013).
“Officer Standing” literally means “Officer Living After Injury” to us. He refers to himself at times as K-57-Up (instead of K-57 Down). There are many other officers living after injury. Their stories are important and need to be heard. Their life lessons instill hope for other injured officers to never give up and that life IS worth living and learning from. We should thank and remember our officers who are still with us, for their service and sacrifice. They will never be forgotten.
TEAM LET encourages readers to view Carrie and Mike’s moving video:
Carrie and Mike Kralicek serve law enforcement together by telling Mike’s story of injury and triumph. Carrie is a registered nurse and Air Force veteran with experience in the juvenile justice system. Officer Mike Kralicek suffered a near-fatal debilitating line-of-duty injury. Both are motivational speakers working with the law enforcement community. Mikes presentations on emotional survival resulted in both of them being named honorary life members of the International Conference of Police Chaplains. Mike is also an Air Force veteran. Reach them via their website at http://www.mikekralicek.com/