There was a time when foreign lands had a sense of the exotic and prohibitive; but in a shrinking world, where technology brings images of distant scenery into homes and living rooms “as if” time and geographical dissonance matters not; and where virtual reality and computer graphics crosses the bifurcated worlds of fantasy and reality; today, it is the native who finds that being a foreigner in one’s own country is far more common than merely the inability to communicate effectively in a different tongue.
Being in a foreign land is merely a state of mind; the pendulum swings, and swings far and wide, when first one enters a territory of unfamiliarity; but over time, with growing acclimation and recognition through daily routines, the distance of the pendulum harkens back to a beginning point, and a balance is achieved.
That is how one felt when first the career and employment entered with youthful vigor was embraced just after the school days of yore; the tingling excitement of a new venture, a steady paycheck and fresh with ideas to conquer the universe filled the cauldrons of hope, and where the future beckoned but with endless opportunity and fenceless expanse. Crisis points have a jarring effect. They tend to dampen spirits and shake the foundations of confidence and composure.
For newly disabled Federal employees and injured U.S. Postal workers who are hit with a medical condition, even sometimes a mildly disabling condition, the sense is often that one has entered into a foreign land, and the language spoken is one which few understand, fewer still speak well, and where only a handful are willing to take the time to give explicit directions. Suddenly, the very people who were once comrades in coordinated efforts of missions to accomplish, act as if they no longer know you; familiar doorways are suddenly shut; people whisper, and whether they do so in hushed and incomprehensible tones, or in a language unfamiliar, all amounts to the same.
The need to apply for a visa to exit the land once loved, becomes a reality to forebear; and the Federal or Postal worker who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, must consider carefully the ramifications of leaving that land once beloved, but now distant in space, time, and geographical reality. One has become a foreigner in a foreign land; and the exit still open is to file for Federal Employee Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.
How, and whether, and to what avail, such tragedy struck, is not as important for the time being as the pragmatic steps needed to be taken in order to secure one’s future.
When war breaks out in a foreign land, the pawns to be captured and traded for barter and advantage often involve the vulnerable and the expendable; and having a medical condition which impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s capacity and ability to perform in the workplace, often becomes like a war zone of sorts; and filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits is merely another type of fight, of a bureaucratic sort, through an administrative maze in another foreign zone of battle.
For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the time to exit is before the borders are sealed, and to enjoy the scenery of foreign soil from the safety of one’s home.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire