First Responders and Trauma: Bridging the Gap

by Elizabeth Willman, MS, LPC, CSAC, SAP

Elizabeth Willman
Elizabeth Willman

Our current media is infiltrated with violent attacks among various religious, cultural, ethnic and political groups that are receiving large amounts of attention. As a result, one of the most lethal and deadly attacks we fail to acknowledge is the physical, emotional and spiritual attack upon our current law enforcement officers and first responders. These highly resilient men and women walk the streets daily, work in, and interact in one of the most lethal, violent and traumatic environments with daily exposure to traumatic incidences and what is considered routine occupational exposure. Continue reading First Responders and Trauma: Bridging the Gap

Remembering Tim Casey: Your Work on Earth is Done

by Peggy Sweeney

I know your life
On earth was troubled
And only you could know the pain
You weren’t afraid to face the devil
You were no stranger to the rain

Oh, how we cried the day you left us
We gathered round your grave to grieve
~ Go Rest On the Mountain lyrics, Vince Gill

Tim-CaseyAlthough Tim Casey and I had never met in person, we had a long-standing friendship through emails and phone calls. Several years ago, I received his first email in which he had attached an article he wrote about his struggles as a firefighter; the nightmares, his addiction to alcohol, and his suicide attempt. He wanted to share his story in an effort to touch one firefighter, officer or other first responder who was struggling with these same demons. He felt it was his duty as someone in recovery to tell them “help is available”. Thank you, Tim, for your friendship and your efforts to help your brothers and sisters. May you find peace at last on that mountain. Continue reading Remembering Tim Casey: Your Work on Earth is Done

A Quiet Moment, God is in Control

by Chaplain Kathy B. Thibodaux

Chaplain Kathy Thibodaux
Chaplain Kathy Thibodaux

“God is in control.” This is such a simple statement, yet one that exhibits a deepening faith, which requires that I trust in the Lord with all my heart for every situation and circumstance. God has a master plan, a higher goal and a special purpose for my life.

His ways and thoughts are not my ways and thoughts. I may even fail to comprehend the path that I am following; but I must not lean on my own understanding. In all ways, I am to acknowledge Him for He is God, the Creator. He knew me before I was formed inside the very womb of my mother. He knows my thoughts before I ever speak a word. Nothing I do is hidden from His eyes. Continue reading A Quiet Moment, God is in Control

I Loved Them, Too

by Tabitha Hill

Tabitha Hill
Tabitha Hill

You don’t know me, and you probably never will. If you were ever to think of me it would be because my face is a blurry memory of the worst day of your life. It was the day you found out you lost her. Or the day you found out he would never be the same again. It was the day you forgot how to think straight and you learned just how many tears you could cry before you were empty.

It was the day you barely remember in some ways, but you’ll never be able to forget. You see it in your dreams, in color, in 3D. I was there that day. I saw you walk in with your husband. Saw you hugging your loved ones and holding hands. I saw you stand in a circle praying desperately. I heard your sobs and I hurt for you. My heart broke so deeply for you. Continue reading I Loved Them, Too

Bulletproof Spirit: Emotional Survival and Effective Wellness Strategies

by Dan S. Willis
La Mesa Police Captain (retired)

Based upon his emotional survival guidebook: “Bulletproof Spirit: The First Responders Essential Resource for Protecting and Healing Mind and Heart” (New World Library, 2014)

Dan Willis
Dan Willis

Consistently being immersed in violence, tragedies, danger, evil, and suffering can often scar the spirit of any first responder. Tragically, each year more officers kill themselves than die in the line of duty, with an estimated 120,000 more suffering from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.[1] It is essential for first responder agencies and individuals to incorporate proactive emotional survival training and wellness initiatives that nurture, protect, and heal the spirit—to bulletproof officer’s spirits to prevent them from becoming victims of their chosen profession.

The adverse effects of a career as a first responder are poisonous and cumulative. Like a cancer, dedicated yet unsuspecting officers have the potential to slowly succumb to the toxic, debilitating effects of acute stress and trauma with little training on how to effectively process the internal damage. The job has an inherent ability to turn officers into someone their loved ones no longer recognize. First responder agencies nation-wide lose far too many officers due to their inability, primarily from lack of wellness training, to prepare for and process stress and trauma in a constructive way. Losing an officer to suicide, depression, or emotional suffering should never be just part of the job. There are effective wellness practices that can work to insulate the spirit of officers and help them reach a natural retirement with a healthy mind, body, and spirit. Continue reading Bulletproof Spirit: Emotional Survival and Effective Wellness Strategies

I Will Be an Alcoholic Forever – But Not Today

by Officer Leo Petrilli

Leo Petrilli
Leo Petrilli

Let me preface this missive, by categorically averring that this is not meant to be used as an excuse, but more of an explanation.  At a very young age, I quit swimming in the ‘ocean we all share’ – that is life.

I chose to drink my feelings away.  As a child, I was born into a strict European family, first generation in North America.  My parents were indeed from the ‘OLD COUNTRY’.  My mother had some issues of her own to be sure, and I bore the brunt of a lot of them.  My abuse was multi-faceted – verbal, physical and especially emotional.  Fortunately, I was never exposed to any sexual malfeasance; from my parents, or anyone else.  However, my self-worth was erased.  When I was in grade 3, I discovered my dad’s homemade wine and I had my answer.  I didn’t start out as a blackout drinker.  But I became one by the time I got to high school; and I had money in my pocket.  Inside, I was hollow, angry and empty.  Good or bad, I didn’t want to feel anything.

Suddenly, I was eighteen, and living on my own, and no-one knew anything about my being a drunk.  Except me and God, and I didn’t care.  It was so easy to be ‘gone away’.  I was out of control, and without a care in the world. Continue reading I Will Be an Alcoholic Forever – But Not Today

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