There’s nothing like the flashing lights of a patrol car to make your heart sink into your chest as you get flagged down. Your mind starts to wonder: what could I have been stopped for?
Was I going over the speed limit? Maybe my back light’s not working? Whatever the real problem is, you have to try to calm yourself, even though your hands are wiping sweat on the steering wheel. You give a beautiful smile to the officer as he comes to your window.
You know that your chances of going on your merry way without a ticket are less than likely. But William Jazwinski didn’t realize he was stopped for something else.
Jazwinski was a Veteran, and he was just going about his own business — driving down a street when he saw the flashing lights and was pulled over for nothing, as far as he was concerned.
William was born and raised in New York. He attended Arlington High School. And because he felt a sense of duty, he knew it was his calling to fight for his country and had ambitions of rising to Sergeant someday. From age ten, William was sure this was what he wanted to do.
From age ten, William was sure this was what he wanted to do. On the other hand, William’s mother was completely against it. She had good reason to be.
William decided to finally fight for his country in 2003, while they were in the midst of the Iraq war. William was one of the 177,194 soldiers that were deployed into combat.
William left behind his life, his girlfriend, and his family. William was prepared to never see them again. William’s family was just praying and hoping that he would make it back to them safely — and that he wouldn’t be among the 4000 soldiers that didn’t come back.
William did make it home — he arrived back after a year in the military. But he was different from who he was before he left. The situations he was put into just changed him, he knew he couldn’t live life like it was before.
With advice from his family, William sought counseling. He felt this was helping him a lot, but he could never shake the feeling that hung over him from his service.
After a particularly uneventful session of counseling, William started his trip back to his house in Texas. Staring at the road, he stopped paying attention and started daydreaming.
He thought of what waited for him at home — his daughter and his wife. If they weren’t around, he didn’t know what he would do. He snapped out of it and realized there had been a car following him for a while.
Seeing the patrol vehicle, William’s eyes shot to his speedometer to check his speed. He was relieved when saw he matched the speed limit and didn’t accidentally go over it.
He had also checked his lights the day before and they were fine. So why was this officer following him? Maybe he was just overthinking the situation. He tried to calm himself down. But there was a voice in his head that made him think otherwise.
William decided to test the cop, he indicated at the last second and quickly turned down another, quieter road. Now he watched the car to see what its next move was.
Just as William had expected, the patrol car appeared in his rearview mirror again. So the cop was tailing him. He was just waiting for the flash of the lights and the blaring siren to turn on. But what happened next only made him feel more uncomfortable.
William felt anxiety wash over him as he waited for the siren. From his military experience, he felt that not knowing what’s coming is far worse than expecting something. Waiting around made his stomach twist.
After five minutes, the situation was the same — no sirens, no lights. Just a patrol car ominously following him down a quiet road.
Then, after so much waiting, the patrol vehicle emitted a flash of its lights. William nearly felt happy, the waiting was killing him. Now that he was going to be pulled over he expected the usual routine, maybe some small talk, and then he could leave.
That’s at least what he thought. As he slowly geared down and pulled over to the curb, he was unaware of how weird this already weird encounter would get.
Willaims’ day began to get a little weird when he rolled down his window to ask the officer outside what the matter seemed to be.
And when the officer said that he actually wasn’t in any trouble and hadn’t done anything to break the law, William noticed that his eyes had moved to the dashboard of his car — coming to rest on something they both held dear.
William was a former Heavy Wheeled Vehicle Operator for the US Army. He also served in Iraq.
So when he saw that the police officer was looking at the American Flag that he kept there for remembrance, he never expected what happened next to unfold. It began with the officer simply wanting to give thanks, but it became so much more.
After the usual chit-chat, the officer finally opened up about why he was so grateful to the war vet. He began by asking about Williams’ time over there and slowly it unfolded.
The story that the unnamed officer told him had a strong connection to everything that William had been through. And soon William would know everything.
The veteran prominently displays two symbols from his time in the military on his car, one is an Army sticker on his bumper and the other is the American flag which the officer had been drawn to.
It was the sticker that alerted him to who was driving the car. Only then could he see who was inside. Who he saw astonished him, it was almost too much for him to bear.
William told the officer a bit about his trip, “I went to Iraq. I did a 15-month stint out of Ft Benning.” And that’s when everything started spilling out.
The officer, in turn, told William some news that was still haunting him to this very day. And seeing William only brought up more unresolved pain.
“My son went to Iraq. He didn’t make it home.” Knowing the pain and having been there first hand, William offered his condolences and, also, his help.
“I’m so sorry to hear that. I just finished a PTSD program.” PTSD is short for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, something not uncommon among military men and women.
“I see you have a flag in the truck. The one we got for him! It’s at the house,” and just like that, the officer asked him a question, or a favor, that William simply couldn’t refuse.
“Can I ask a question? “Would you mind stepping out and receiving a hug? You remind me of my son. You look exactly like him!”
“When I pulled you over it was because you looked so much like him. I thought you were my son. I still don’t believe he’s gone most days,” the officer said with tears in his eyes. So did William hug the officer?
You had better believe it, according to his Facebook post it wasn’t just any old hug either.
‘With tears in both our eyes I got out and hugged that man. I’m talking about for a minute or two crying. Down to our knees crying. I needed that,’ William wrote.
Both men seemed to release some grief… With a total stranger. At that moment, William felt himself let go of something that he’d been holding onto for so long.
It was as if the hug from the policeman had dissolved William’s fears and trauma. He almost felt it evaporate and rise up into the ether as both men stood on that empty road, hugging and crying.
It was exactly the release he had needed. It was that heartfelt moment of human contact with a total stranger that had healed his PTSD far more than any counseling session could. He couldn’t wait to go home to his wife and daughter and tell them everything.