“So, I’ve got three hypothetical stories for you,” Patrick Bacon said as he sipped his beer and leaned back into his couch. “Let’s say, right after high school, Pat Bacon drinks way too much and decides to drive. Let’s say he hits someone and it’s all over the news. ‘Pat Bacon kills bystander.’ It probably won’t even say that. ‘Drunk driver hits bystander.'”
He leaned forward, “Let’s say now that it was after my time in Ranger Battalion. The headlines would look a little different, right? ‘Pat Bacon, former Ranger, driving drunk kills bystander.'”
“Okay, now — let’s say this happened after I was a Ranger and a cop. That would be big news. ‘Former Army Ranger and D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer, driving drunk, kills pedestrian.’ That would make a lot of waves.”
Patrick Bacon doesn’t drive drunk, but he did do the other things. After five years as a U.S. Army Ranger followed by five as a cop with the Metropolitan Police Department of D.C., he now works in Florida as a civilian. As a police officer, he was shot in the stomach while wrestling an armed suspect. He says that he owes his life to what he learned as a product of the Special Operations Community.
However, despite the fact that he now lives and works outside those titles, they both stick with him. “Those monikers stay with you for the rest of your life,” he said, which can be difficult as a Police Officer. “I can handle that level of scrutiny on myself, but on my family? Hell no. I refuse to put them through that. In the headlines you’re guilty before proven innocent.”
Even without particularly negative press, those titles are always a part of how people perceive you — if they know. Future employers will generally expect more out of you: “When I became a cop, I felt like I was expected to perform at a much higher level just by the nature of my background. Most rookies, by no fault of their own, have zero life experience. Had I been a cop at 21 and right out of college, I would definitely look to a guy with a SOF pedigree to be able to handle all kinds of things.” And those expectations are not just limited to jobs like police or EMS. They exist across the global workforce from an infantry grunt to a surgeon.
Many veterans find themselves more frustrated at other veterans for this very reason — they expect more from them. Bacon expects the world from his fellow Rangers because he knows first-hand what they’re capable of. People will generally hold others to at least the same standards they hold for themselves. Even those who have not earned one of these life changing monikers will always have high expectations from those that have.
“You just gotta live up to them,” Bacon said.
Featured images courtesy of: pxhere (left); Patrick Bacon (center); U.S. Army (right). Altered by the author.