First Responders mental health advocate – Amanda Coleman (Irish Angel)
Hi, everyone. This is your host Michelle, and you’re listening to the Mindful podcast. Today we’ll be talking about mental health cris amongst first responders with Judy, DCF mental health coordinator, and Amanda, executive director of Irish Angel. So I’m going to let you introduce yourself for those who don’t know you, if you can give us a little bit of background professionally and personally. Yeah, sure. So I own a nonprofit over here in the States that helps law enforcement, first responders, and veterans with mental health and addiction. We educate and we raise funds to be able to send people for treatment if they can’t afford the travel expenses that goes with it. And that happens quite often because sometimes when people are in crisis, their finances has gone by the wayside too. So we want to give everybody an opportunity to go out there and get help. And then on a personal level from the mental health side of things, my mom has suffered with mental health for the longest time. Oh my God. She had Pts through grief, and now that’s manifested into something called parapsychosis because she was abusing prescription meds and alcohol all that time to comfort it. Our mission is very close to my heart, and my family is in the first responder community, so it’s a passion of mine, that’s for sure. Of course. Yeah. Okay. And Judy, what’s your professional background? I run a mental health clinic in Boston, the Boston area, massachusetts. I’ve been running it for I’m the vice president at DCs Mental Health for 20 years now. Oh, wow. So we’ve seen it all. We just started a first responder program as well, so we’re taking on the outpatient piece of it. So once they’ve gone through the crisis and got the help they need, they come over to us and have the outpatient mental health. We can do telehealth or in person. I am also a law enforcement family. My husband was a police officer and a court officer. My son is a police officer and the president of Irish Angel, and my daughter is a police. It’s the family. We’re all in it now. I get it. And how did Irish Angel begin? How did it start? How did you come about this amazing foundation? It was probably in and around 2015, I’d like to say. It was in the run up to the elections and at the time it’s funny, we were going through our own trouble at home with our law enforcement. Nothing in comparison to what happens in America, obviously. And my cousin who’s a police officer at home was know, you need to see what’s happening in America. It’s like the police officers being shot in their cars. It’s just crazy. So I went online and I seen what was happening and it didn’t matter. The fact that I was in Ireland, to me, I knew the individuals behind the badge, that they’re human beings just like the rest of us. Right. So I went on LinkedIn and I post messages of support on LinkedIn and not even thinking anything of it. I was a hairdresser from Ireland. I knew nothing about anything to do with the nonprofit industry or yeah, I just took to LinkedIn and two weeks later I’m inundated with messages from police agencies across the whole of the United States thanking me for what I was doing because they felt that their jobs was in vain. They all got together a SWAT team in Virginia and they gave me an honorary call sign which was Irish Angel. So because they did that for me, I was geez, like, I had no clue that what I was doing was even having such an impact on people. So I built a website that was username and password for them to go on and have conversations because there was so much hatred towards them online. And in doing that, I was watching all the conversations to and fro. And because I come from a background where I have been that family member who’s been in those situations, I seen things that they were discussing and I was going, this isn’t good. So I knew that the veteran community had a high rate suicide. There’s like 22 veterans die a day. And so I started to do some research on the first responder community. I was blown away by the staggering amount. And every year it’s rising even more now. The suicide deaths in law enforcement in particular are now outdoing the online of duty deaths, which is insane by a double. It was double last year. So I was like, I wish there was something that I could know. And a friend of mine is the sheriff in Schenectady in New York. And he was like, angel, what do you want to do? He’s like, You’ve all this, what are you going to do? I was like, I can’t really do know. I’m like, I’m Irish. Like and he’s like, yeah, he said, you’re Irish, but I’m not. He says, So let’s put this together. You do the research, you find out what avenue you want to go down and let’s get it done. So we did. And to say here you are. And to say we’ve hit obstacles along the way is an understatement because we actually got our 501 in December 2019. And then we were launching in Boston in March 2020 and then obviously COVID hit and then the riots happened. And then nobody wanted to invest in nonprofits that was helping law enforcement for fear of what would happen to their businesses. So we basically had to take a backseat. And I think everything happens for a reason. And that reason was we needed to educate ourselves more. We needed to partner with the best organizations that we could that was going to give great resources to our people. And we’ve been very, very blessed when it comes to that and having those relationships that they know they can reach out to us too. Because how we structure what we do is so we know that the money is going to a good cause, is if somebody gets admitted into hospital, they need to go in and they can’t afford the out of state treatment, the facilitator will reach out to us and they say, we need help with getting someone here. So then we then give them the application, they go through the process and then we pay for their flights or we’ll pay for a treatment that’s not covered under insurance. So, yeah, we’ve been doing that ever since and I’m loving it. Loving it. But we literally only got to kick off in October last year due to COVID and everything else that went with it. Yeah, but I mean, you’ve had an incredible response to the whole program. Yeah, it’s been fantastic. You’ve backed up by people. Yeah. What kind of feedback do you get from, I don’t want to say your fans, but people that support you. See, I always have issues with this whole thing, people that follow you. So your followers that support your cause, they’re amazing. They actually are. As much as we have a serious amount of followers, particularly on LinkedIn, but as much as we have that following, we’re nearly like a close family. We always kind of watch out for each other and we’re always trying to help each other link in with different people, different organizations that can help your cause. So they’re very productive in doing what we’re doing and leaving positive messages for those who are suffering in cris as well, to let them know. And it’s funny because we’ve grown a community that now they have a better understanding of just what first responders go through. You have to highlight the good, the bad and the ugly, because for us, it’s a double edged sword, right? So you have the first responders that is wanting the help and going through the treatment, and they get themselves in sticky situations, as I’m sure you know, because of what the media puts out there about them. But you also have to educate the public as into why they might act a certain way. And so that’s what we do. We still share the news, we still share the fallen heroes and we still talk about mental health. So we try and keep it, as I want to say, informal as possible, so that people relate to it a lot better. And that helped us grow the community and it now gives them an understanding of just exactly what they’re going through. So our following are such supporters of those who are in service. A lot of people don’t know what they go through because their family is not in it. I don’t have any police, anybody in my family, so I can’t say I would understand it. Right. Until you go through it, you really don’t know. You don’t know. No. You have three in your home, right? Yes. We see a lot and they deal with a lot. And I tell people, a lot of people will say, I just turn the news off, I don’t watch the news anymore. There’s too many violent things happening out there. It’s just too crazy. But they can’t turn it off. They’re at the scene, they’re at the incident, they’re there, they’re seeing all these horrible things that people cannot turn the news on to actually see. But they see it, they’re there, they’re doing the work and it’s very difficult because they can’t turn the TV off. So they’re at the incident, the situation, the crisis, the trauma, they’re seeing it all. And so many people just say, I just don’t watch the news anymore. That’s where I say that. They walk away from it, but the law enforcement first responders cannot walk away from it. They walk right towards it. So it’s very hard. You have a lot of clients that are first responders. We just started the program, so we do have a few that we’ve just brought on. But yes, and it’s a different breed. It’s different because it’s a privacy thing, it’s a macho thing. It’s a macho thing. Oh, my God, I was going to say they laugh it off. They just laugh it off or make a joke out of it or self medicate or whatever. What are some of the symptoms that they might present when they come to seek therapy? A lot of times it’s just they’re quiet, depressed, anxious, angry. A lot of anger. There’s a lot of anger. Yeah, there’s a lot of anger because they see so much and they can’t do anything about it. They have to go to the next yeah, there’s not a lot of especially when it’s like critical incidents. There is departments out there that actually do look after them and they have rooms set up for them to decompress. They have peer to peer that come in and talk. They have psychologists on hand, but the majority of places don’t. And especially if you’re in a small town, you tend to have to pull together probably about five, six different agencies to get a peer to peer support team going. But that’s the fundamental key to everything is the peer to peer, because it’s one thing for a police officer to want to go and get help, right? There is that stigma that’s attached to it. So you have, like they call it the rubber gun squad. So they want their gun is going to be taken off them. They are going to feel like they’re being weak, that this is not a good thing. But the peer to peer support teams are phenomenal because a lot of them have been through it and a lot of them are now educated in it, so they’re able to relate to them in a way that a psychologist couldn’t. So it’s just breaking down that barrier of having those difficult conversations and being able to have them with somebody who gets it. And it’s up to them then to follow through with the treatment, to help them navigate their way to get the treatment. But that’s the fundamental key when you’re going into the law enforcement agencies, is to have that peer to peer support that it’s so badly needed and there’s just not enough of it. And sadly, there’s not the budget there for it either. And it should be, because mental health, if your mental health is not right, you can’t do your job right. It’s like, you know, right. US ladies, I say, at a certain time of the month, we get cranky, we do all this kind of thing. We’re not functioning properly. But it’s the same sort of thing, right? If we’re not looking after ourselves, we ain’t going to feel right. And it’s the exact same for them, only on a much higher intensity. I completely agree. Yeah. I think everybody should have a therapist. Yeah, I agree to talk about right. It always makes you feel better, too. And people tend to wait to seek therapy when too late I don’t want to say too late, but when damages don’t crisis mode, cris mode. I need help. Save me. And if they were to seek therapy just a little bit before, it does make the difference. Oh, it does, it really does. Stigma doesn’t help, and the macho thing doesn’t help. They’re afraid of losing their badges, their guns, everything. Yeah. They feel like their identity has been stripped away, when in reality, yes, it might be taken from them for a couple of months. But what’s the other option? Do you cross that line and take your own life versus getting rid of your gun for a couple of months and then working on yourself, making yourself better, and then go back to your job, and then you’re at 100%? Well, not 100%, and I don’t think anybody’s ever at 100%, but you have a much better shot at doing what you need to do and focusing on your job at hand. But I think there’s a tough thing around families as well. The families are the forgotten ones as well, because they live with people who are angry, who are agitated, anxious, all that kind of stuff. And they’re in that heightened sense of it’s worse, I think, when officers tend to shut down and don’t talk to their families because they’re then questioning themselves, like, what is it I’m doing? Am I doing something wrong? And then the kids are saying, is something we do, and it has a knock on effect on the whole family. And we’re trying to focus a little bit more on that now, too, because if someone goes in for treatment, they will go in one person and they will come out a different person. And the wife or the husband still at home with the kids, thinking that the person they’re getting back is the person that went in, and it’s not so it’s extremely different. And they have to learn who this person is again. And can they trigger that person again by acting the way they did prior to the treatment? So I think it has a knock on effect. So I think the therapy needs to work throughout the whole system, through the family and through the system. The individual, yeah, the whole family. I agree. I agree 100%. It’s the support system you have at home. Yes. Right. And like you said, they change. They do a whole experience. It’s not going to be I mean, we all change every day. And I can imagine going through a traumatic event or witnessing a death or getting shot, like all of that. They’re live on hypersensitive. The hyper vigilance is just like it’s nauseating. Even if you go out with a police officer and he’s off duty, he will not sit with his back to the door. He has to be looking at the door and he’s watching everything. They do not relax. Relaxation is not a thing for them. It’s a rare find that you’ll find a police officer who can just sit calmly, but they’re watching everything, and it’s that constant state you’re in all the time. It’s exhausting. It’s exhausting. People are always able to clock in and out of their jobs, but they can’t. They can’t. They can’t. And they try really hard not to take it home. You do, but it’s easier said than done. Yeah. Did you ever experience that at your own home where they would bring their work? Well, yes, I mean, I’ve been in the mental health field for 20 years. I run the business, but I’m not a psychologist or anything, so I’m the vice president, do the business end of it. But I see a lot, so it’s hard sometimes because my husband’s a court officer, my son’s a police officer, my daughter’s a dispatcher, so all the stories are ugly. And being in the mental health, a lot of it’s ugly, so you hear a lot of the ugly part of it, and it’s hard. It’s like, oh, my gosh, how do you deal with it? And I have a therapist. Everybody should have a therapist. It’s just really that important to be able to talk about it. And it’s okay to not be okay, and you just have to speak your mind and walk it out, work through it. It’s just really important. But yes, I’ve seen it. I’ve seen a lot, and my son has seen a lot, and my husband’s seen a lot. How do they deal with it? Do they talk to you about they talk sometimes they talk about it. They’ve gone through the drinking or had problems with the drinking. I mean, everybody self medicates and it’s a tough time, but they deal by keeping busy. My daughter is dispatched, and she hears all the crisis calls, the 911 calls, so she’s had the last breath on the other line. She’s heard a lot of things like that. But they cope. They deal with however they can. And my son works out, do the gym instead of the drinking. So you have to get hobbies in place and work out or do whatever, take a walk, take a breath, just talk about it. But, yeah, they do talk about it. And it does help. It really does help. And you see the same with the first responders. What do they do to keep themselves besides therapy? Besides therapy? A little sane. A lot of the time, you find they do turn to alcohol or prescription meds, and I don’t even think that they realize that they’re doing it. It’s just like an automatic pilot. For the longest time within police departments, if something happened, they would tend to go to the bar, have a drink, and talk about it, and then it’d be put to bed, and that would be it. But unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. So they decpartmentalize everything, and then all of a sudden, then the little boxes you open, pandora’s box, that’s it. There’s no getting back from it. And we were literally having a discussion today about these guys are the master of disguise. So you have to act a certain way when you’re on the streets, and you can learn to switch it on, switch it off, whatever. But it’s the same with pretending that you’re okay. So they could easily go talk to their buddies, and they’ll say, you okay, you good, and they’d be like, yeah, I’m good, man. You know, whatever. A lot of them don’t recognize, and they don’t recognize it, and it’s too late before they go. I should have noticed the science, but it’s extremely difficult to pinpoint one thing about somebody, I think, apart from the fact that he shut down a lot, that would happen. But on a positive side of it, the ones that would recognize that they’re heading down a slippery slope, a lot of them miss the gym. They will go to the gym. They’ll work out or they’ll go do some sports, just stuff to get aggression out of them. It’s whatever they just need to get because it’s a pretty tense environment to be in constantly, and they have to be able to vent it in some way. And hopefully not at home. Hopefully there’s no projection. They’re getting better. The younger generation, I think, is getting better. The younger generation is more about fitness and all that kind of stuff. And that really helps because a healthy body is a healthy mind, and you’re keeping yourself busy and occupied, and trust me, no one knows it better than me or you, Judy, actually. But I was addicted not to alcohol or prescription meds, to food. Like, food was my comfort. So find something. You find something. It’s your coping mechanism. I was an emotional eater. Thankfully not anymore, but I was. And it soul destroys you. And if you’re not strong enough to find your way out of that hole, it’s difficult to navigate it. So you just need people like us to be able to help you in that point in that direction. Who was your support system when you were trying to deal with your mother? Oh my God. I don’t eat comforting food. You see, for me, my life was pretty grim without getting into too much into it. But I always had I think it’s why I relate to police officers and first responders and veterans so much is because from the time I was like this size, I had trauma after trauma after trauma and you tend not to look back when you have repeat trauma constantly. All you can do is do your best to keep going forward and try and get yourself out of that situation. Even though it was situations that you weren’t causing, it was something that was put upon you. But it’s either you allow it consume you and you become a victim or you move forward and you become the victor. And I’m very much of that mindset, I always have been. And even when things was really bad, you have to just cope. You have to just get on with it and try and deal with it as best you can. And I suppose I was always kind of just my own big advocate. That’s very important. Yeah, but it’s not for everybody. Not everybody is of that mindset. For some people, the smallest of traumas is a massive trauma to them. And that’s not taking it away from them because just because their experience is less than yours doesn’t mean that the trauma is not the same. You’re both experiencing trauma in the same way, whether it’s good or bad. Yeah, everybody’s different. Everybody is different. I just had a podcast the other day and we were talking about the big t’s and the little t’s. Right. And I thought that was very interesting. And it’s true what you go through. We might go through the same situation, but I might cope with it better. Exactly. For me it might not be a big deal, but for you it was like destruction. So that’s very important. Yeah, it is. It’s your mindset. It’s a rare find to find someone who’s able to cope with all that has happened and be able to come out the other side of it. And for the longest time, I guess I didn’t think that I dealt with my trauma. But the way I see it was it’s only now doing the work that I do and I go out and I talk to people and you’re listening to people and you’re helping people that you find a lot of healing in that. So it comes back to you in other ways. So as much as we help other people, it actually internally helps us. And myself and Judy, we actually just got on the conversation today about our lives and we’re very, very similar in our life experiences and how we manage things and how we take things on. And it’s amazing to be able to meet somebody who’s gone through just as much as what you have and realize that there is people out there that is willing to fight for themselves. It’s amazing. I’m grateful that we met. And she’s a little angel. She is. I love her. A little angel. She’s an Irish angel. Fallen an angel. Everybody’s got something. Everybody has something. We do. But we’re just blessed that you and I is both of that mindset where we will not let it affect us. It’s not to say that it won’t affect you like everything affects everybody silent. You’re able to cope and manage and put your energy in a good cause. Yeah, exactly. Self destruction. Exactly. It’s like, do you stay on that Ferris wheel, right, of like, that you grew up in and the victim mentality? Or do you jump off and say, no, not today. So I got off that Ferris wheel a long time ago. That’s amazing. That’s awesome. Yeah. Oh, my God. So in regards to the foundation, is there any success story that you can think of that you want to share with us? There is, but we can’t really talk about it too much. But I guess for me, internally and what we did for people, the very first say we call them saves that we did. I’ll never forget that phone call that we got and said, can you help? And we end. Yeah, we can. And that to me was massive because everything that you work towards and every obstacle that was put in your way and you didn’t think you would make it, all of a sudden you’re here and you’re able to help people and then we get feedback from the individual. So that in itself is just like gold to me. I was like a baby. I was crying. I was like, this is crazy because you know, all the hard graph that you went through, all the ups and downs that it’s come to fruition and you’re able to help people and that’s the be all and end all for me, is to be able to help people. If somebody told you you would be in this spot? Never in a million five years ago? No, never. What would you have said? I said, no, there’s something wrong with Ireland. What do you mean? In the US. Doing interviews. Yeah. No, it’s crazy. I had no clue. And I suppose with COVID as well, it was a weird one, right? Because Ireland was the we were the second longest in the world on lockdown with Cuba, so it was really tough. And so for those two years, I seen nobody. So you’re building the business that you don’t know whether it’s going to sink or swim and you’re just trying to navigate as best you can and educate yourself. And then all of a sudden, the travel ban is lifted, and I’m on a plane coming to America, and I’m going, what are you doing? You haven’t seen people for two years. What are you actually at? Right. And I’m off to a conference in Vegas for three days, and I’m surrounded by people. And because when you’re at home and you’re working from home and you’re in your room, you’re comfortable. Yeah. That when you get there, you know? Idea of the impact that you have on people. So when I walk through the door, everyone’s like, oh, my God. You’re Irish. Angel. And I’m like, stop. Just stop. That was so weird. It was weird. What do you mean? How do you know my name? Can we get a picture? Which no, I don’t like pictures for what are you going to do with that picture? Right. So it’s really funny. It’s a hard one for me to accept. Yeah, it’s like it’s weird. It’s weird. But I do love everybody that does follow us, but I don’t see myself any different than anybody else. We’re just doing something that’s good. Well, I think that’s what makes you so special and that’s why people are following you and believing in your mission and the Irish Angels mission. Yeah, no, it’s all good. What would you tell someone that is going through a difficult time right now that maybe is a first responder that is not sure if they should seek help or not? I think you should absolutely seek help. You’re not alone. That’s the only thing I’ll say, is you are not alone. The amount of people out there that have gone through the treatment and come out the other side when you think that all is completely lost, it’s not. Everything is fixable. It is. Your life is not fixable. If you take your life, you’re making a bad decision on an emotion. Just reach out and get the help. And if you’re worried about finances or you’re worried about the stigma surrounding your job, there’s confidential lines out there to be able to help you. We have partnered with amazing organizations. We’re very blessed, in a way, because anybody in the United States who reaches out to us for help, we can get help to them anywhere in America. Anything from 20 minutes to 24 hours. And then they’re assessed, and based on their assessment, then they’re sent for treatment. So the help is there. You just really need to reach out and get the help. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. Yeah. Where can they find you on Irishangel.org? That was easy. Yeah, easy. We’re actually hosting a conference in February next year in Boston, and it’s centered around leadership and mental health because there is a culture that needs to change from the top down. We’re getting better. Not fast enough. There’s a lot of chiefs and old school sheriffs out there that just don’t want to acknowledge. What’s going on. And for the best part, in fairness to them, it’s not that they don’t want to acknowledge it, it’s their budget will not allow it. And that’s a big issue when realistically, as I was saying before, it’s something that needs to be a priority because if you’re a cop and you have a gun and you have all these weapons and you’re put in these hyper situations, you have to know mentally that you’re strong going into that. If you don’t, you’re screwed. You’re leaving yourself wide open to everything else that’s going on, right? So it’s a culture that needs to happen, that needs to change. We’re also doing stuff, we’re working with a company called Force Science. They’re a huge company that looks after laws around, centered around training and all this kind of stuff within law enforcement. And they’re doing some phenomenal work around second degree trauma through interrogations. So we’re trying to give them the tools to be able to instigate it through their departments, to kind of be able to, I suppose, shield their members as well, that they’re not having that second degree trauma and how best to deal with families and how best to deal with critical incidences and peer support and everything else. But it’s something that definitely needs it’s conversations that definitely needs to happen from the top down. And they have to start factoring this into their budgets because you’re gambling not just with the officer’s life, with people on the streets and with their mental health. So it’s something that needs it has to change. If we could get everyone, if we could get all departments throughout the whole of the United States at the very same time to go, right, this is how we’re going to do it when it comes to mental health and get them all singing from the same hymn sheet, the world would be a much better place. It really would for law enforcement in general and for the public. But like that, it’s something that it’s a difficult subject to broach around leadership. It should be mandatory. It should be mandatory. I think it should. But then you run into the situations where if it’s mandatory, do they want to go? Are they going to open up? Are they going to walk into a room and just sit there and say nothing? Or are they going to open up? I think eventually they will, but eventually good therapist can build a report with them. But again, if it’s the norm, then nobody would really see it as it being bad or a big deal. It’s almost like you have to go for your annual with your doctor. Nobody wants to go, but you go and it’s normal and you tell them everything that’s going on and that’s it. I think also during incidents that happen out there in the world because it’s crazy out there and so many things happen, so many bad things happen. And when they do, happen. That’s when you need the intervention right then and there, they see something. They see something horrible. Like I said, people just turn the news off, but they can’t. That’s when they should get in there and do a crisis intervention. They should have treatment right then and there, whether they need it or think they need it or not. And usually the process, it’s nothing like that. No, they have to wait. Sometimes they don’t. Depends on the departments. Like, we were literally just out with the NYPD, their health and wellness agency. Phenomenal program they have there. It’s amazing. So the bigger places have factored into the budgets. It’s the smaller places that’s having the difficulties. But even with the NYPD, the suicide rate for the NYPD is huge. And in particular, when people retire, and I think there is a massive loss through retirement. I think was last year there was three high ranking officers who had retired that had taken their own lives. And a lot of that has to do with no purpose anymore. Not getting up and putting on their uniform, not having the brotherhood anymore. The phone stops ringing after retirement, and they soon realize they’re not a part of this. They’ve dedicated 20, 30, 40 years of their careers to their career, and that’s their other family. So it’s like being married for 40 years all of a sudden, and then your spouse dies. Right. So it’s a difficult thing for them to process. It’s almost like they grieve. Yeah, exactly. Grief their career. Exactly. They grieve their career. But those are the folks that you need to bring in to do peer. Yeah, definitely. To keep them, give them a new purpose. Exactly. You’re retired now. You can do this piece of it and help others. You can help other people. So you’re still connected. That’s it. And I think that’s a big part of it. They want to feel connected. I know they think because I talk to them all the time, particularly around retirement, and I’m like, Are you prepared to retire? And they’re like, yeah, I can’t wait to go fishing, golf, and la la. I’m like, that’s grand for, like, two weeks. Right? And then all of a sudden, you’re going, okay, the wife’s at work. I’m sitting here bored. How many times you go fishing? Right. And as I said, the phone stops ringing and people stop calling over. And before you know it, you’re stunk into that depression and you start to drink or whatever, and it just becomes a constant bombardment of emotions and what you’ve lost. And it is a grieving process. And if you’re not of sound mind and have a plan, then you’re open to anything happening to you. And it’s something that really needs to change. Again, with the leadership. We’re working with another company around the retirement end of things, because I do see that there’s nothing to prepare you for retirement. In the military, you have transitional phase. Right. And even that’s not great. But it’s there, right? Where? With law enforcement. Yeah. They’ll talk to you about your retirement. They might talk to you, but very brush over what you’re going to do when you leave. But there’s nothing to prepare you for. You are going to wake up. You no longer wear that uniform. You’re not in that family anymore. That phone’s not going to ring. You think you’ve no skills. So it’s like, how do you channel? Like, I’ve often spoke to cops and they’re going, I know nothing but law enforcement. And I’m going, but that’s such a valuable tool. You know security, you know, administration. You know how to deal with people. You have a lot to offer people. It’s just a matter of channeling that. So we’re trying to work on a program, putting a program in place that’ll roll out probably about two years before you retire to get you into that mindset. So it’ll be finance. It will be your career wise mental health, planning ahead. Planning ahead. And it has to happen because the suicide rate that goes undocumented once they retire is huge. And then they don’t know why. Yeah, they don’t talk. Exactly. They don’t even know. They might not even recognize the symptoms. The symptoms. No, they just think, oh, this is life after you retire. It’s sad. It’s really sad because like I said, you’ve had someone who’s dedicated all of their lives, been through the wars and back again, especially in these last few years, because it’s a bombardment. No support from administration, no support in their departments. They’re getting hatred from the streets. I mean, it’s just a constant. It’s tough. And then they’re taking their immunity away from them. So this all factors into how they act on the street. Are they going to arrest people? Some don’t even arrest anymore because they’re afraid of what could happen to them. They’re afraid of losing their job. They’re afraid of shooting somebody, them being shot, or they’re being arrested themselves. So they have everything going against them now. And a lot of people nowadays are going against, at least politically, they’re used as a pawn, sadly. And that’s how I kind of fell into this because it was in the run up to the elections. And every time there’s an election on, police officers are used as a weapon. Whether it’s a good or a bad tool, it’s so know because they’re the people that we need the know. And you only have to look at what happened in Seattle that time when they did that autonomous zone, right? They didn’t want police, and it was defund the police. And then all of a sudden they killed each other and then called the police. And you’re like, you’re saying you don’t want the police, but you need the police, but who are you going to call? Who are you going to call? But the sad thing is, now they have this mass exodus from law enforcement. And now they can’t get the people, quality people, to fill those positions. So the people that’s coming on the job is the rate of them is really low, and quality is not there either. So they’re not just going to take anybody. So it’s a constant battle to get the people in. But on a mental health side with the younger generation, all they want to do is talk. Okay. Oh, my God. Like verbal diarrhea. I don’t want to talk about everything. Everything. Everyone’s a mental health advocate. Right. Which is a good thing. But then you have the veteran cops that don’t want to talk about things, but they have the knowledge that the younger guys need, but now they’re leaving before the younger guys are getting that knowledge. So it’s hard if you could find a happy medium of the two, like you said, a peer group. Exactly. Or just the youth volunteering. Exactly. Listen, the stories, like, combine the ones that have been on the forest for years with the new ones. The new ones do like, monthly service or something. Even the retirees, I think they should bring back and do Ted Talks with the guys who are on the job because they have so much they can learn from them. Right. We’re living in crazy times. Yeah. I want to know what you went through. They had that purpose, too, after and we’re living in crazy times. I mean, the streets is more dangerous now than I’ve ever experienced. Like, it’s insane. Violence is on the increase constantly. People sitting in cars, being pulled from their cars and killed just to get their cars. The crime level is on the up and up. Right. And it doesn’t matter how or what they’re doing, whether it’s drugs, whether it’s mortars, whatever it is. Right. But the training, because there’s so much going against law enforcement now they want to restructure the training, which alters the safety of the cop doing his job and the safety of the individual. So they’re all thinking about this now. So it’s not just a matter of, say, doing a traffic stop right. And walking up to a car and doing what you normally do. Now they’re going, I can’t grab him above the torso, I can’t do this. And their brain is not on the job. So they’re thinking about what worst case scenario, somebody’s going to record me or am I going to say something racial? Anything. Right. Anything. Or do they have a gun? You don’t know. Yeah. So they have to assume that they have a gun. Yeah, exactly. So they go in that mindset and they have a split second decision to make right. That we would us, as average individuals would hate to make. A lot of people are very quick to judge, but they have never been in that situation. Walk in a person’s shoes and how I got into doing this, I wanted to experience what they experience. So I went on the ride alongs. I did them and I’m not even messing. I was petrified. I needed to change a pants after one of them. I will never forget this as long as I live, but it was like I was taken on an undercover thing where we had an informant that was going into a drug house and she was being filmed and we’re sitting in this band, like movie style. I was like, honest to God, that’s what exactly what it was like. My heart was like this I’m not messing. Right? And so they could talk to her and she had the camera on her and she’s going into the house and whatever they were doing in the house. And then she leaves the house, and as she’s leaving, we have cars all over the place. They’re like, she’s being followed. Then you’re watching the person following her and they’re walking past your SUV. And I’m just like, oh, my God. And I’m like, what an experience. Yeah, but I mean, it just showed me. Could I do that every day? Absolutely not. I would be a nervous wreck. I would be so bad. Like, I’d be the worst cop in the world, I really would, because I just couldn’t. That hyper vigilance is just not for everyone. Not for everyone. And again, with traffic stops and stuff, and they say that cops are being rude to them or whatever. Yeah, they might be rude to them, whatever. You don’t know where that police officer is after coming from. Has he just picked a child up off of the road that’s been had to been scraped up from being in a car accident? Have they had to tell a parent that their child is dead? Have they seen a child who was raped? And it’s mainly the stuff surrounding kids that really affects first responders and veterans and with mental health because they associate their own children with that situation and they can’t get past that. As the public, we need to be a little bit more understanding of just exactly who these people are. They’re human beings. They feel, is there bad apples? There’s bad apples everywhere, right? Every dentist, doctor, everything everywhere, right? But the good outweighed a few of the bad. So we have to keep that in mind. And keep in mind that they are real people and they do feel and they have all these same emotions that we have. Exactly. They’re just dealing with more exactly stuff. Not to say another word. It’s true, though, isn’t it? Yeah. We couldn’t even comprehend, like, taking on what they take on. But I would say to anybody, anybody who is sitting on the fence about them or anybody who criticizes them, do yourself a favor, go to your local police department and sign up for a ride along. Can anybody do that? Yeah, it depends. Some departments don’t like the NYPD don’t. Smaller departments will do it. Just do the ride along. It’s an experience and a half. Like you’ll see another side to it. It’s something I think everybody needs to experience to have a better understanding. And I actually wish and I pray that most politicians would go out and do it too, because they’re always quick to judge and throw the hat in the ring about defunding the police and everything else. They need to go out and see what’s going on. It’s not easy. It really isn’t. It will open your eyes. Yeah. Oh, I believe you. Yeah. I have no doubt. Like you said, there’s bad apples everywhere in any career. Yeah, exactly. So we shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Exactly. Because of a few bad apples saying all police are just bad apples. Yeah, they’re not. Doesn’t make sense. No, they’re good people. Good people doing a tough job. They often don’t like the job they do. Meaning, as in when COVID hit, when they had all these mask mandates and they’re basically having to work. Yeah, that really bothered them. That actually upset them. They were like, what the hell? Right? Somebody has to do it. And even the whole vaccine mandate thing being that was a chore for them and a half as well, because now most of them are forced into a retirement that they didn’t want to take or they had been fired because of this. And that plays an effect on their mental health, too. So they get it from every angle. That is true. And veterans can go on tour. They can do their tours. They might do three, four, five tours, whatever. And that’s massive. And I’m not taken away from anything that a veteran does. And most veterans you’ll talk to will agree with me that a police officer does what a veteran does on the streets every day. The only thing is they don’t get to go home and stay at home. They have to get up every single day and suit up every single day and put up with the same nonsense every single day. So it’s repeat, repeat, repeat. So they don’t have that downside. So it’s tough. It’s a tough old profession, that’s for sure. Yeah. No, I mean, after this conversation, I definitely learned a lot of things. That’s a good deal. Like I said, I don’t have any cops in my family or friends that are cops, and you can only think of what they go through or how the system works. I had no idea it depended on budgeting. But then again, I feel like everything depends on budget. Budgeting. Yeah. Doesn’t come down to politics. Right. All right, ladies, thank you for coming. It’s been a great conversation. I hope you enjoyed it as well. Absolutely. It was great. I hope you enjoy Florida. You can move here. I’m moving. Can you tell my husband that? I will. Kids, too, or kids can stay? They can stay. Okay. Grandkids can come with me. All right. Is there anything, any last note you would want to share with our audience? Just make the call. Make the calm yeah. Don’t end it. Make the call. Yeah. What they say don’t make a permanent solution. Is it permanent solution to don’t make a permanent decision oh, my God. On a temporary temporary emotion motion. That’s it. It is true. And I’ve been around that all my life, and it can happen so easily. Life is too valuable. I know people might think it’s not going through what they’re going through, and a lot of the time, they feel self loathed. They don’t feel anything about themselves. They think they’re not worth anything. But your life is worth everything. You mean so much to so many. You just need to believe in yourself and take that step to reach out and get yeah. And it’s hard for them, because at the moment, they don’t see it. They don’t see it. No, but you are valued, and you are loved. Someone out there loves you. Yes. And we love you. Exactly. Of course. You got the support from everybody. Exactly. Just but you got to make the call. You’ve got to make the call. Yeah. Okay. And if you’re not sure if you want to make the call, at least talk to somebody. Exactly. Even if it’s a family member, a friend, anybody in your support system, they can also make all right, ladies. Thank you for coming. It’s been a great conversation. I hope you enjoyed it as well. Absolutely. It was great. I hope you enjoy Florida. You can move here. I’m moving.