by Robert Cubby
Over the last few years, after I retired from the Jersey City Police Department, I decided that I needed a change of lifestyle, or daily habits, or routines. I’m retired, why should I adhere to the same rigid schedule I suffered through in law enforcement? No more shoe shines or pressed uniforms. No, that wasn’t enough. Then it came to me, no more haircuts. Or shaves. My guess is that I wanted to distance myself somehow from what brought me painful memories and triggered to my PTSD. If I could change something, anything that brought back those memories, I was willing to try.
One thing was certain about my decision. As much as I always looked like a cop, even off duty when I was active duty, there was no way anyone would ask me “are you a cop?” I hated that. I couldn’t be off or relaxed even off duty or on my days off. I could never get away from it. Even my appearance screamed law enforcement. So we’ll start there.
Well, I’m sorry to say it didn’t work. I still felt like I always felt. But at least no one bothers me with that silly question so it did help somewhat. In the meantime, the hair got longer as did the beard. No point in tampering with it. Besides, I never had the opportunity, so why not? It was a little over my ears which was forbidden in law enforcement, and a goatee. Pretty conservative departure but enough.
Two and a half years ago, I became involved in filming the upcoming documentary, Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance.
During those two and a half years, the film awaited funding for its completion. It waited and waited. I guess PTSD isn’t a hot topic with those who fund films. I didn’t see it that way. I saw much potential and promise and hope in its message. So I committed to helping in any way I could to get this film finished and distributed. Part of that was vowing not to shave or cut my hair until the film was completed. Silly, I know. It’s like holding your breath until you get your way. But I needed to make some overt act, so that was it.
I’m happy to report that the film is in its final stages thanks to funding. But now, what do I do about my hair and beard? Just cutting it all off seemed anti-climatic. I thought of donating it to those charities that take hair and make wigs for those suffering hair loss from illness or medical procedures. My wife’s doctor, who is Indian, suggested I cut off all my hair and sacrifice it for the recovery of a loved one. I liked that idea, but I’m not of that religion or culture so how could I do something special for a loved one?
Then I received a phone call. It was a friend who asked if I’d be interested in shaving my beard for Movember, a movement recognizing men’s health issues. It was agreed upon that the proceeds of this event would fund NAMI – National Alliance for Mental Illness – and their work educating about and supporting PTSD programs to aid veterans and first responders who suffer from PTSD. Of course I said yes.
My passion about PTSD is very deep and I am willing to do anything to further education and support for those suffering from PTSD. In the Indian tradition, it will be a sacrifice for loved ones, those suffering from PTSD. I am grateful that NAMI gave me this opportunity to fulfill a promise I made to myself, to see this film finished and this message of hope reach everyone who sees it. And to make an overt sacrifice for the sake and welfare of those suffering from PTSD in the military and first responders. If it does any good whatsoever, then the sacrifice was worth it.
Other articles by Robert Cubby:
A Piece of Cloth
Project Blue Light: Remember How They Lived, Not How They Died
Friday, the Thirteenth
911: My Story
My Grief This Day
The First Attack