For Wyatt Derr, like many veterans, law enforcement has proven to be a post-military career that provides him with what he missed most about serving in the U.S. Marine Corps—community, camaraderie, and the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than himself.
This is National Police Week so we asked Wyatt to tell us his story.
“Joining the United States Marine Corps was not just as simple as signing a piece of paper, serving my time, and being done with it. The decision proved to be, in my opinion, the best thing I could have done for myself. I developed mental fortitude, became comfortable in uncomfortable situations, and learned how to think on my feet in ever-evolving situations. These are priceless mental attributes that help in many walks of life.
Being a police officer is very gratifying. I get to see people at their worst and later watch them succeed. I see individuals take the power which was stolen back into their hands and turn their lives around. Occasionally, I see people acknowledge their misdeeds and try to mend them.
The most satisfying thing about the profession is knowing I made an impact on someone’s life when they needed it most. While I’m not always aware of the impact I personally have, you have to believe there are so many more people you helped and you didn’t even know. Maybe it wasn’t some outstanding deed they needed, but some small, gracious, act of kindness.
Law enforcement is a field in which your actions are not often of immediate impact, but as the steps you took marinate in the minds of the individuals you interacted with, you have a more long-lasting effect.
The Marine Corps prepared me for a life of service. I have only been working as a police officer for about one year, but it has filled several voids which I thought would never be filled after leaving the Corps. The deepest one was missing unit cohesion and the friends who turned into brothers.”
Like Wyatt, many military veterans have found successful second careers in law enforcement. More information on how veterans can pursue a law enforcement career can be found here.