April 19, 2022

That Peer Support Couple - Cathy & Javier Bustos

For this episode, we will have Javier and Cathy Bustos. They're known as that Peer Support Couple. They are amazing, they are going to dive down into what it takes to have a healthy career. And that includes on an off duty with your relationship with your spouse especially. And we're going to also talk about what it takes to have a great career and end your career ready for retirement. And that means healthy. Just like when you got into this service, you were healthy. And that's how you want to leave it because you want to collect as many of those pension paychecks as possible. You deserve it. No more than anyone else. Because you have endured that tough career for all those years to get there.

For this episode, we will have Javier and Cathy Bustos. They're known as that Peer Support Couple. They are amazing, they are going to dive down into what it takes to have a healthy career. And that includes on an off duty with your relationship with your spouse especially. And we're going to also talk about what it takes to have a great career and end your career ready for retirement. And that means healthy. Just like when you got into this service, you were healthy. And that's how you want to leave it because you want to collect as many of those pension paychecks as possible. You deserve it. No more than anyone else. Because you have endured that tough career for all those years to get there.


In the episode, we will learn the following:

👉Do most first responders stay longer in service for finances and insurance;
👉Why do you need to start saving for your retirement fund as early as you start working;
👉What does a first responder couple look like;
👉Why is it important to learn your partner's love language;
👉How to free yourself from control factors;
👉What to do when you get off track of your routine whether physically, mentally, or emotionally;
👉How does peer support help you to get back on track;
👉What should healthy responders' life look like;
👉and many more!


Hi, everyone, and welcome to this week's episode of Enduring the Badge Podcast. I'm your host Jerry Dean Lund. And I don't want you to miss an upcoming episode with so please hit that subscribe button. And while your phones out, please do me a favor and give us a review on iTunes or Apple podcasts. It says, Hey, this podcast has a great message and we should send it out to more people. So please take that 30 seconds to a minute to do that review. And just maybe by doing that, it'll push this up into someone's podcast feed that really needs this message. 

And those of you who are still feeling a little stuck with your mindset after listening to these episodes, please reach out to me, I have this great program under Fire and Fuel Coaching, that I teach you about how to have a mindset that will get you through the rough times and reframe what's going on in your life. You can find that information out on Instagram, under fire infield coaching, or you can find additional information under Enduring the Badge Podcast website under the coaching section there. 

My very special guest today are Javier and Kathy, they're known as that Peer Support Couple. They are amazing, they are going to dive down into what it takes to have a healthy career. And that includes on an off duty with your relationship with your spouse especially. And we're going to also talk about what it takes to have a great career and end your career ready for retirement. And that means healthy. Just like when you got into this service, you were healthy. And that's how you want to leave it because you want to collect as many of those pension paychecks as possible. You deserve it. No more than anyone else. Because you have endured that tough career for all those years to get there. Now let's jump right into this episode. 

How're you guys doing? 

We're doing good. Thank you. How you doing?

Yeah, of course. I'm doing great. Tell us a little bit about yourself. And then kind of why you started the peer support couple.

Well, I am retired law enforcement I did, I served 25 years for two different departments and retired at the rank of Lieutenant. And so of course, throughout my career, I saw a lot of officers struggle and sometimes sadly, ultimately fail in their, in taking care of themselves and working our way through the law enforcement career. And even ourselves, struggled for a period of time at first several critical incidents that we had been involved in. And we saw the need for adequate peer support and for mental health counseling and things like that. And so that's how we created that peer support couple, just to try and pay it forward. We got a lot of help. And we were struggling and we wanted to be able to help others who are struggling. Right. And I have to I've been in law enforcement for 23 years, and I'm actually getting ready to retire in August. Yeah, yeah.

Not that we're counting. Right, right. And I'm looking forward to it. Cuz it's like Kathy said, she's retired. And I'm looking forward to retirement because I'm doing everything that I should be doing to retire happy physically and mentally. And I had a great example through Kathy's and she retired in January of 2019. And I got to see her career progress as mine progress, I got to see little things that she had to go through that helped me in my career. So I'm ready for retirement. And as that bears poor couple, we're actually ready to do more to help officers and their families and first responders in general to get through and manage critical incidents and the stress and trauma that happens to it. Because as funny as it may seem, me being an active duty cop has actually kind of held us back a little bit.

And now that I'll be retired as well, we can actually be full force, getting out there even more and delivering the message that of course, as everybody says, it's okay not to be okay. But our job is to show you how you can be okay. After a critical incident happens to you and your family. 

Awesome. I will dig down into that for sure. Because I definitely want to hear about that. So you're looking towards retirement and you said you're ready to retire, like and you're ready physically and mentally to retire. How does that look?

Well, you start first, your journey. For me. I started actually my educational journey Once I retired from law enforcement so I am currently in the midst of a master's program. Not very happy about it almost done, thankfully. So it looks like continuing education for me in my journey and I still do the rowing machine to try and meet whatever the passing rate is for my department at my age and gender. Just to kind of keep on top of things we exercise every again, I do Pilates. So it looks like a lot of different things, but all things that we've learned along the way, and not necessarily the things that we knew when we were in the midst of our career. Right. Okay. And yes. 

Can I ask you one more question just about that. Because I think a lot of us stave in the service a lot longer than maybe we'd like to or want to, just because of our finances and insurance was this something as you were looking to get out in 2019, that you felt like you had a grip on?

It, it was a, it was a big factor. For me worried about finances and things like that, especially with the fact that I was going to go back to school. Fortunately, my husband works for a department that pays well, and I didn't have to worry about insurance or finances. And also, I do a lot of part time work. Retirement is just a myth for sure. I do a lot of part time work and traveling that helps supplement that expenses. But it's definitely something that you have to start preparing for, you should start preparing for it at the beginning of your career and not at the end of your career. Right, it sneaks up on you. Yeah, I always say the days are long, but the years are quick.
A retirement planning timetable — from ages 50 to 70 ½
Start your preparation now. Right. And you know what we learned from our good friend Nick Doherty, who's known as that financial copy, that you should start planning for your retirement, when you are a cadet or a brand new rookie officer. Yeah, that's how tight it's gonna pay off for you. We wish we knew Nick, early on. But the point of it is, is that you have to start preparing for retirement day one as a cadet or a rookie, because the career does go by fast. And I know for me, I've blanked and 23 years have gone by. And it's been an amazing journey. And like Kathy, I, I try and eat well, I exercise. And we also exercise our brains, you know, we just don't remain dormant. And we're also very, very concentrated in the thought that we to when we need to tune up mentally, that we seek peer support from someone else, or we go into a clinician, if we have something that that is beyond the level of peer support, help. So we practice what we preach. A lot of times people think that we're this perfect couple, and we're far from it. And we definitely make sure that we talk to talk and walk the walk. Sure, and best of our best. We really, really do. Because if we're not implementing what we tell others that is helpful, then what we have to say is basically just bogus, you know? Yeah. 


5 Best Tips to Plan for Retirement

Yeah, I completely understand that. And I, and I think anybody like I do personal coaching and stuff as well and tried to do the same thing. You walk the walk and do everything like that. But that doesn't mean you're perfect. I mean, right? Yeah.

There's no perfect person. Yeah. Right. There's no perfect person. And there's certainly no, you know, couple that just perfectly meshes and everything's beautiful. 24/7. Right, we always really joke around because there's been times when we've done presentations, or we've done training, and another couple will come up to us and say, Oh, we wish we would have known y'all 10 years ago, 11 years ago. And we're like, No, you don't.

All right. So um, again, I have to ask them why? Why would you say that?

Oh, because we struggled. In fact, we do a whole presentation on marriage, and family survival in different venues and things like that. But I would say 15 years ago, we were not in a good place. And we were on the verge of a divorce. We had been through multiple critical incidents back to back to back. And it pretty much broke us individually and as a couple. And so 15, like 15 years, 15 years ago, years ago. So when somebody says that we wish we would have seen you 15 years ago and learned all of these things. We always say no, you don't because we were working. And I use air quotes. We were working on all of these during that time, and we had definitely not perfect to them. Right. And like Kathy always says we were not a married couple. We're two cops living together in the same home. You just happen to be married. Yeah, wait should be a married couple who just happened to be cops. 

20 Common Marriage Problems Faced by Couples & Their Solutions
Yeah, yeah, I could definitely see the the challenges there. You don't have to go into into detail. But you said you went through some back to back critical incidents that put some strain on, of course yourself and your marriage and I'm probably sure those that's surrounding love you and care about you guys. Do you want to just kind of just briefly explain what those were?

Sure. We I think the thing that we just mentioned is that we were two cops living in a household who happen to be married versus a married couple who happened to be cops. We were living, just like two roommates who were police officers in the day to day routine of going to work every day working shift work and things like that. And that's how we handled everything, regardless of whether it was personal professional. That's how we handle everything. So when we were involved in critical incidents, it was okay, let's get through it and move on to the next thing. And we went through in 2008, my Corporal attempted suicide while we were working, and he shot himself in the head with a shotgun, he survived. But that really took a toll on me.

Wedding doesn't stop cop couple's 'call to serve' during downtown riots |  wzzm13.com

And a toll that I didn't I thought I had recovered from, but we never really did anything, we just got through it. And then in 2010, my department suffered a line of duty death of one of our officers. And it not only affected me, but he was a family friend of ours, and my daughter's school resource officer. So that really kind of, you know, added to the, to the fire that we had already gone through. And so in surviving the attempted suicide. And then one month later, Javier was involved in a shooting, we hadn't even gotten back on our feet from the line of duty death when we had this critical incident happened. And that pretty much broke us. We had been struggling. Our marriage had been struggling due to a variety of things, just one enforcement, the ship word, you know, bad nutrition and lack of exercise, coupled with the fact that you he had became into a ready made family. So there were those those

What do you want to call them challenge challenges. He did not have he didn't have children. And he came into a world with two, almost two teenagers. So there were those type of challenges merging a household together, sharing chores, and things like that. And so with all of those challenges that we had, on top of these critical incidents, it really just broke us for a time being right. And the thing that we also talked about is she experienced critical incidents in her life, and professional in your law enforcement career long before I ever met her. And vice versa. I experienced critical incidents in my time and the military, I was in Mogadishu, Somalia in 93. And then, of course, some critical incidents that I went through as a young officer. So we brought our separate traumas into a marriage, thinking that oh, well, that's all over. We're starting new. Yeah. But if you're going to start new, you have to be able to say I am able to manage what's happened to me in the past. I'm not bringing that back into my new relationship. 

Yeah, that's easier said than done. Right. That's so hard. So hard to do. And I think 

First you have to recognize that recognition is the first thing if you don't recognize it, then you're just piling it on. 

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Yeah. All right. So um, that's gonna lead me into my next question. How did you recognize that? Javi did you recognize it? And Kathy and then you know, Kathy, did you recognize and Javi or what? 

I think that what I saw is that she was very angry. And what I didn't see it was what I was doing, how I was acting. And it was basically, she's the angry one. I'm not doing anything wrong. You know, she's got the problem. And, and the thing is, is that that is not anywhere close to what it was. I was just as bad a contributor to the problems. But I did not realize that. Because it's one of those things where Oh, you can easily point out somebody else's deficient. There's a lot of finger pointing. Yeah, a lot of finger pointing. But you all but I'm good. And that was my biggest mistake was looking at the mirror and saying, Hey, dude, maybe you're not acting as a part as you should do. So Right. Definitely part of it. Yeah, there and there's a lot of arrogance in our profession. Like it's not me, it's them. Even amongst our our fellow officers. It's not me, it's the community. It's the administration. It's the organizational process. And I think my first realization of what I was like, even though I knew I was angry all the time, I just thought that was part of it. You know, that's part of the career that's part of our mission. Right, right. So it really didn't, like nobody pointed out to me, and then we went to Postgres.

Horizontal Image Of A Couple Pointing A Finger On Each Other Stock Photo,  Picture And Royalty Free Image. Image 17377445.

Well incident seminar in Huntsville, Texas. And we sat down at the table and we had to do mental health assessments. And I'm like, Oh, my arrogance. I'm like, Oh, this will be really good for heavier. Shooting. And so we're going to figure out what's wrong with Javier and everything should be fine. Well, it was actually me that was suffering. You know, I had anxiety, some depression, of course, anger. And I laugh and say, while this is not true, I laugh and say, my numbers were 95,000 on the bad end and pop years were like, 35. Right. So so that was kind of a slap in the face for me that you know, I needed to do some work on myself, and let have your work on himself. And then we can come together as a couple,

Right. And the amazing thing about we attended the postscript, once in seminar was my wife went out for a session with condition. When she came back, I saw her face her eyes and her smile, the person that I fell in love with, it was like, like, she's back, you know, and I'll never forget how her face was. Because I could just see the change the the stress that you can see in somebody's face, when they're when the pain is in their, in their eyes, and in their facial expression. That was gone. I had Kathy back. And that was an amazing thing. Not

in a Jack Nicklaus kind of way, like she's bad.

Yet, don't we often just see things and other people that are wrong with us. Do you think that's just a common a common thing, right? And in life, and just in how we look at other people, or maybe judge other people?

Yeah, or even in some cases, as in our case, I always thought if I could just make Javier think like, I think or do what I do. There's that control factor, because we're all type A personalities. And we want to control everything. So if I could just make him see how much better it would be if he did this, then everything would be wonderful. And that's that's not necessarily the case, you have to meet people where they're at now. It's just like, you know, when you when you are rookie, and you have your FTO. And you have to tell me, you know, what a one call 10 out of 10 different officers can tell this one called 10 different ways. And I'll be right. You know, we had to learn that. If I didn't think a certain way, I should not expect that she would do it, because she was getting the same result. Yeah, Cathy, right, that that control factor that we have as first responders. It's like, no, no, it has to be this way. And this way only, and that creates conflict.

You know, if you don't do it this way, you're gonna die. Yeah, that's, that's what we've learned along the way. And that's what we try to force everybody else to do,

Right. Right. Now it goes from cleaning the house to doing the laundry and in all the family things, right? How Yes. How do you free yourself from that control factor? 

Oh, years of practice and learning. Counseling counseling. Post critical incident seminar was very helpful. A marriage seminar that we went to write five love languages, taking the Five Love Languages test and understanding each other one love languages, five love languages. That is such a huge thing. It really is. Kathy usually tells the story, but I'll tell it, but basically, you know, with the five love languages, you have your own love language. Yeah, the problem with it is you can't love somebody else by your love language, because it may might be different. So when I found out that her love language was acts of service, she was like, I don't want flowers or chocolates or things like that. To me, showing me that you love me is when I come home from work for patrol duties, and the house is cleaned. The dishes have been made, washed, things like that. Yeah. She appreciated those kinds of acts of service. And she saw that was the love that I was getting to her to her language. I didn't get that. And it caused a lot of conflict. Because she went out there for 10-12 hours on patrol facing the same kind of dangers that I did, where she deserves to come home to a picked up house, or some chores done in errands. And when I was failing to do that, to uphold my part of the Vows, and the pledges that we make to each other, that creates conflict. 

Here's what your love language says about you - The Post
Yeah, yeah. I can see that. 

He can save a lot of money on flowers. Yeah. Guys out there. I'm the lucky one to buy a lot of flowers. Or some coffee. Yeah,

It's a small thing that made such a huge difference in our marriage because we were fighting all the time about why don't you do this? Why don't you do that? Why don't you do this? Why don't you do that? Instead of saying, This is my leveling, which I'm accepting Robots so you don't have to be, you know, touchy feely or, or bring me gifts or flowers or anything like that. Just pick up a dish or take out the trash. Right? And, you know, on the opposite, right?

He wants, he wants physical touch, and he wants words. And I had to that was my part of the work was learning that, you know, cooking him a meal that he could care less if I cook or not, wants to hold hands when we're walking into a store. He wants me to tell him what a good job he's done. And that, that makes a world of difference in our marriage. And letting go of having to control how he needed to be loved or how I needed to be loved. Is was a big factor in letting go of that kind of control.

Yeah. So were you trying to love each other like, like you wanted to be loved? Is that? 

Yes. Okay. Yes. I felt I felt like he needed to have a clean up house, when he got home, he need to have dinner on the table, all the, you know, the gender specific matriarchal, patriarchal things, and he could care less about that. Whereas that's what I cared about. I wanted the house clean, I wanted food on the table, you know, all the things done. All he wants to do is hold hands and talk about, you know, words of affirmation and be kinder and gentler. And it was definitely a work in progress for me, because I'm a 25 year cop, I'm not very touchy feely, and I'm not, you know, kinder and gentler. But he works hard to take care of my love language. So I work hard to take care of his. So it truly is a partnership. It really is. And the mistake we made is our partnership, like we said earlier is we were two cops, as if we were two cops on the street in a partnership. At the end of the day, you went your separate ways, and you went to your separate homes. That's how we were acting and our own home. And that was such a huge mistake.

Yeah, I could see that happening. You know, you know, two officers, there's probably two different schedules and just basically passing each other by

Oh, yeah, yeah. And there was a time we had different schedules. But there were a lot of times when we had schedules that we came home within an hour or so of each other. So our quality time was at like, three o'clock in the morning. At water burger. I don't suggest yeah, having a water burger in Utah. But whatever, local hamburger joint Yeah, where you live a healthy meal. Yeah, we're having that unhealthy meal, staying up late going to bed and then just repeating the whole cycle all over and having children school, all the things. 

Okay, so what's if Javier is not loving you, Kathy, in your love language, would that say you probably make you triggered in some ways? And if so, how would you like say, Javier? You're not, you know, loving me and my love language, basically,

I think I don't know that I would use those words. Because again, I'm not very tight during what it what it looks like, sometimes that looks like nagging. And I have to recognize that in myself. And then he realizes when I'm nagging that he's not doing something, and then we try to sit and communicate about what what is going on. You know, he's got backers in his life that I have no knowledge of, because he's still working, and I'm at home, I've got factors in my life that he has no knowledge about, because I'm going to school day, you know, online, and I'm on the computer. But we, we try to now communicate what what those things are, what's going on what the needs are. And that's how we, it doesn't necessarily look like, Well, my love language is acts of service, because he already knows that, right? Yeah. And he knows what makes me happy. He works every day to try and fulfill that and as I do for him, but and you know, we always equate thing with similarities of being on the job, but we always talking about productivity. And creativity is something that you self initiate, well, me being proactive with your love language, it's as simple as having the voice her voice in the back of my head, not screaming at me, but just having her voice the back of my head saying saying look around, you know, look around the house, this something needs to be taken care of, or pick picked up or whatever. So I'm being proactive in that way and say, okay, you know what, there's little bit of a mismatched mess here. Let me let me fix things up. Let me just, you know, get things back in order.

It used to be a matter of I would walk in the house and it would be just complete disarray, because we still have a child at home and just mess everywhere. And he would look at me and go what what's wrong with that? I'm like, look around.

Or famous line was this house. It's like a crack hole.

Krakow's, I was like, Well, I think it's a very nice house. But okay, we just try and be proactive in knowing, knowing the love languages versus talking about what the love languages are. And, and working everyday to meet those, those goals, right. And when we talk about that we see so many flashes in people's eyes and couples eyes and when they when they get what we're trying to say, because what we try and do is we try and be a reflection of the audience that comes to see us, especially when it's a couple that they're together. We want them to see them in us and realize we're just like young, you know?

Yeah, yeah. So this to do this type of stuff proactively doesn't generally take a lot of time, does it?

No, it doesn't. It doesn't. It's so simple. It's such a simple thing that I wish we would have created it. Yeah. And there and there's times when we're tired or cranky, when we're feeling overwhelmed, we lose sight of those techniques that we have. But then we always recognize that we've lost sight of it, and that we always go back to the same thing, right? Yeah, keep it simple. Go back to your basics, go back to your training, go back to what you discussed with your significant other, and just be like, Okay, we know what works for us. We've strayed a little bit, let's get back on track. And let's not get discouraged because we got off track. That's what happens with a lot of people in life in general, whether it's your physical health, your mental health, you know, you you get off track. And then you say, Oh, I've blown it. So I just want to just keep on going that way. For now we know, okay, we had a bad week of eating, let's get back on track, are we you know, we haven't worked out, you know, a week or whatever it worked out, just get back on, you know, walking together or get on the rowing machine, or whatever the case may be. And we don't discourage yourself by saying, Oh, we messed up. You know, okay, we messed up, we get back on track.


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Right. I think that's, that's, that's so true. Because we, we do get off track, right? That's, we're just humans. And like we said in beginning, none of us are perfect. If we were maybe we'd be able to stay on track all the time. But, right, I guess what fun would that be? But, yeah. But I think you know, it's just recognizing that you're off track, and that you can get back on track. I think, too often, we think we're so far off track that it's like, why bother? This is gonna be very difficult and painful to get back on track, And is it really worth it?

Yeah, it feels insurmountable at times, and definitely for us, because like I said, we were, we were on the verge of splitting up and it it feels like, you'll never be able to fix things, they'll never work. If we start with a clean slate with a new department or a new spouse or a new this or a new that everything will be better. But you bring that same garbage into the next relationship and the next job. If you haven't taken the time to fix it. We're on the other side of it now. So we can say yes, it's definitely worth it. We have a shared history, we've got 21 years together. And you know, we've watched my children or children go up and, and so we can definitely look on the other side of it now and say, you know, some days it seems harder than others, but it is definitely worth it that we went through all that work, right. We're better as individuals, and we're better as a couple that we watch each other grow up, you know, it doesn't matter what your age is, you can still grow up.

Yeah. Yeah, that's for sure. We're always in well, we always should be in a state of learning and wanting to learn. And I think with that comes, you know, just great self improvement and wanting to help the person that you're with. 

Absolutely. If somebody I barely graduated from high school. So if somebody would have told me, you know, 35 years ago, you're going to be in your master's program someday, I would have been like, there's no way there's no way. But here I am. Yep. I mean, she's about to become a clinician, you know, so we're gonna go for that first for a couple of back clinician, which I think is fantastic, because she's going to be able to help first responders at a different level than when she can right now. And it's just the progression of her and her career and her life. That's just amazing to watch. You know, I'm her biggest fan. And I let her know that sometimes. And she gets bashful and but it's true. I mean, she has grown so much and changed so much and I get the front row seat to watch it every day. 

Yeah, yeah, that's, that's important and and fun to watch. Definitely see each other grow. So after your bachelor's and you become a clinician, how do you want to transition into helping first responder, 


Career Shift or Job Change—Which Path is Right for You? - Management  Excellence by Art Petty

A first responder counselor to become a first responder counselor there's a big push. Currently for clinicians and psychologists that specifically treat police officers and first responders, police officers, corrections, EMS, all the first responders dispatcher, dispatch animal control officer animal control officer. But it's a push to provide services that are culturally competent, competent in meaning that you don't necessarily have to be prior law enforcement or fire or EMS. But you have to understand the profession. And you also have to know the therapeutic modalities like EMDR. To treat first responders Yeah. And so that I was blessed, probably about 10 years ago, through a law enforcement Management Institute training program to meet Dr. Rita Watkins. And Dr. Watkins was the person that brought us into post critical incident seminar. And she has been my mentor and watching her when what she does to help fellow law enforcement officers across the country inspired me and motivated me to go back to school.

Yeah, that must be powerful to take.

And I tell Javier all the time, like everything I am to this day, I credit to that program. Because when I started that program, they were they were like, you get nine battle hours, you get credit for this class, you need to put in for it, make sure you put in for it, but important, and I'm like, I'm never going back to school, you know, I'm so many years old. Not going to happen. And then like every time we saw them, they were get these credited get these coveted. Finally, I just did it to get them off my back. And so happy I did. But it was Yeah, everything that everything that I became or that I am now as a result of the work that I put in the work that heavier allowed me to put in and then Dr. Watkins and other first responder counselors that I've been around in this watching the work that they can do. As a peer, we can do a lot of work, we can benefit first responders in great ways. But there's only so far we can go. Yeah, as a counselor, you can just take it to that next level. And understanding the culture in the profession helps quite a bit, right, a good peer support officer or firefighter or paramedic or really case, a good peer supporter, they're going to be triage for the clinicians. And we're trained as peers that we know, where we can get somebody somewhere where they're already good, sorry, on a better path. But as peers were recognized, to say, okay, this person, this first responder needs more help than what I can do as a peer. Yeah, and now is when we do the referral to the clinician, and we wouldn't do that triage, it just be very easy to say, Hey, I'm here, how you doing? I'm gonna send you to a clinician, you know, and disappear, that would just over run the other condition with all these people saying, basically, they said, I talked to you know, here's, our duties are do the triage, because we can help so many people at that level, and get them back on track. But the ones that we know, we can't help those the ones that need to see the clinician,

Yeah. Of your How can you help people get back on track as a peer support person?

Peer Support Specialist Training – USU Extension Online Courses
Well, you know, it's easy to say it's simple, but it's not. But when you keep to your training, to the basics of what you learned to be up here, no active listening is the biggest one. Because when you when you're doing a one on one or a peer to peer session, it's not about you know, you introduce yourself and let them know, hey, you know who I am. And, and I've been in a critical incident as well, similar to yours. But I want to hear from you. Talk to me what's going on. And then you turn on the ears, and you turn off the mouth, and you let them talk. And you observe their body language, you observe their eyes, their voice is cracking, and you're going to start to see where, where they're taking you. And when they take you there, that's when you start addressing what the issue is. And it's really important to repeat what they're saying. So that way they know that you're actively listening to them. And that surely care because because you're repeating what they're saying, and you're done. And so what I'm hearing from you is this, that's how it appears session should be. It's not about the peer, it's about the person you're pairing. And again, like I said, there's so many ways that you can help them get back on track, because it's just basically a reframing how they see things. And when you see that then you know, okay, and then of course, it's important for you to make sure that they know that they want to see clinician that there is an option. Sometimes I hear a lot well I feel really comfortable talking to you see, okay, great. You know, what, how about we make plans to meet again at this time and date and do some follow up um, because now they know they have somebody that they can have confidence in that there's the confidentiality, and keep on having what I call a good conversation. You're normalizing the experience for them. Exactly. There is the normalization experience. Yeah, a lot of first responders feel like they're going crazy, because they don't necessarily understand what happens to your body after you've been through a critical incident. And so just normalizing that event, and letting them know, know, if you're shaking, if you're sweating, if you have nightmares, that's your body's reaction to what you've been through, you're not going crazy. And we're going to give you some techniques to help you work through that. Right? Or sometimes somebody who's in crisis will be like, you know, they say, I'm supposed to be sad and crying, and I can't sleep. But I don't feel any of that. So something wrong with me. Yeah, that's good. You know what, that also means that you don't have to react like somebody else reacts, because that's what you heard, how you should react everything differently, you know, and they need to know that it's okay, the way they're reacting, because some first responders are actually I'll just say freaking out because they think something must be wrong with me, because I'm not sad about what happened, you know, is something wrong with me? No, you're at a different type of mental strength, that you can handle it a little bit differently than somebody else. But you still have to, to, you know, get unstuck. We also fortunately, people are understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder a lot more than they used to. But now it's kind of trendy to talk about post traumatic stress disorder. And people will be struggling with a critical incident for maybe a week, and somebody will go, Oh, you've got Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, you need to get some help. And that's not necessarily the case. Note, the diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder is post 30 days, you know, 17 criteria for so many criteria for that diagnosis. But because that's the trendy word now, that's what everybody's using.

And what about, what about. So now, the other word I hear is post traumatic stress injury.

Post-Traumatic Stress Injury: Hearing, Helping, Healing | The Union  Billboard

Injury. And it's a soft, it's a softener in society. It's not a clinical diagnosis, but it is, sometimes people can accept it better. If it's an injury, because it's not a disorder, you can recover from post traumatic stress injury. And so a lot of people get fixated on the word disorder, and they it's a negative connotation. I agree with that. It's, you know, again, that's the diagnosis. But injury is is something you can recover from something you can feel better about something that you can get help from. So I get the use of the word injury.

Yeah, so. So PTS disorder, I think there's a lot of people still feel like they can't get recovered from that. But they're always going to be not hold or have this disorder or, or something along those lines.

Right? Well, I think a lot of times it's, it's when you're diagnosed with PTSD, you think something's wrong with you? Or it's a it's a scarlet letter, a shameful thing? Sure. I know, I went through that myself years ago, I couldn't even stand the thought of being diagnosed with PTSD. But I was okay with a doctor saying, Well, you have, how about we say you have acute anxiety disorder? And I'm like, oh, that sounds fantastic. You know, it wasn't until years years later, that when I went through another critical incident, and I found out that I was diagnosed with PTSD, that I was able to accept it. But part of me being able to accept that was the fact that it's been part of a normal conversation, the first responder world, that PTSD isn't necessarily a shameful thing, or something's wrong with you. Yes, I have PTSD. But I also take the steps to make sure that when I have triggers, that I know what I can do, to lessen how I'm feeling in a heightened situation, to calm myself down. I'm not ashamed to say I have PTSD. And if I think it's another part of what makes me relatable to somebody that I'm working with, in a peer session or addressing a classroom of first responders or doing a presentation is the fact that, hey, I got PTSD. Here's what I learned how to help myself cope. And you can you can, you know, Javier is a prime example of being able to recover from it and being able to live a healthy, healthy life with it, versus thinking you have a disorder and you're not normal and you're not helping, and that's the that's where the injury versus disorder come in. Right? Yeah, everybody can like injury because you can recover from it. Right? Yeah.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following Traumatic Brain Injuries | Passen  & Powell | Chicago Injury Trial Lawyers

Yes, yeah. That's so true. Because I think you have two choices when you're faced with this situation, I think right? Errors

Like you can accept it and let it spiral you down, or you can accept it and learn how to repair yourself and build yourself up.

Right. And that acceptance, it's very, very difficult sometimes because you know, there are times where you see your fellow first responder, and they're in a bad way. And for whatever reason, it's all they know now. So they definitely think that's how they should live all the time. They haven't been shown the light, or the discovery that no, this is not what your normal life should be like. They've been stuck so long in it, they think that's their normal. And it's not until that somebody helps them. And then they also help themselves. It's a two way thing that when they get out of that rot, they get out of that manhole that they're stuck in. Yeah, they realize, I can't believe that I've been living a certain way for so long, thinking that that was okay to live that way. So yeah, there is two choices. Appear can help somebody make the better choice. But the two way thing, the person in crisis, they also have to decide to need to fight for themselves. Right. And that's how you think post traumatic growth is yes, understanding getting through it getting the necessary help and, and just being well.

So we're talking about what should healthy responders life look like? Wow, I know, this is like, we can have like, eight sessions on this right? Our luggage for sure. Yeah.

5 Characteristics of First Responders

Are you ready for the mini series?

Yes, yes.

It should. I mean, you have to take the individual personality into what their health looks like. Our health looks like going for walks, go into Pilates. He does Krav Maga going to yoga, trying the best of our ability to eat healthy. working every day on some new techniques to be well, meditation, I started listening to meditation thing, versus the next door neighbor, who's also a first responder that does CrossFit every day, and they eat the keto diet, and healthy looks like within mainstream, whatever fits your personality. And you're right. It's just like what we were saying earlier, how you can have one call, and 10 officers work that call 10 different ways. And it all be right. Same thing with your physical health and your mental health. You could be doing 10 different things from somebody else. And it's all good, so long as it's productive. And it's healthy. Yeah, in our, our profession, the law enforcement profession, the average age of life expectancy is 57 years old, right? And that's 22 years less than the general population. And so anything that you can do, like I want to collect my retirement check, as long as I possibly can. And according to statistics, I'm on borrowed time, right? So anything that I can do to prolong that, and not just prolong it, so I can lay around in a nursing home forever, but prolonged it so I'm still, you know, chasing around my grandchildren and a few years and things like that. Right? There are a lot of resources out there that help first responders, particularly addressing the challenges that they have in becoming physically and mentally well. And that looks different for each and every person it does. You know, it's a simple thing. You know, you're the city government, the county government, the federal government that everybody retires from, we want all these retirement system to say we're still paying these people. Yeah, what are they gonna die? Because, you know, what if, if a first responder dies, know what they're, that's retirement money that they don't have to pay somebody? Sure. You know, we all earned that retirement because we work so hard. So the obligation to ourselves is to keep ourselves healthy physically and mentally. So we can keep on getting the reward of all those years of service. Because remember, the reward is of course, yeah, a great retirement, but the reward is being happy and healthy and being with your family. Because once you leave your department, your agency, you're replaced, you know, they somebody fills your slot, but your family could never fill a slot of you if you're no longer with them. 

Yeah, that's that's so true. I have a little bit afraid to say this, but I went to a training this last this last week, and we'll find out who's listening because they'll probably come to me after this. I went to a training I was just kind of like sitting back and just like observing and just kind of watching a lot of the fire guys that were there. And I feel like there's a lot of extreme living. And what I mean by that extremely state want to be stimulated all the time that's through. You know, it's like coffee to monsters to cigarettes to other different types of nicotine. And it's just like, always so wanting to be stimulated.

You see the bases made? Oh, boy, you're about to hear. And, yeah.

And so I'm like, gosh, like, how did we get to this point? And how do we kind of rewind ourselves back to not wanting to be so stimulated all the time. And I'm, I have some guilt in this, you know, myself, too. I'm, like I said, I'm not perfect either. And I feel some of that same thing wanting to be stimulated all the time. Right?

You just did, because you're about to get slammed up. mean, I think that our lives are and I just mean, our professional lives are so dysfunctional, as far as our health goes, because of the fact that we work, shift work, we work long hours, we still have to maintain a life outside of the of the firefighting and law enforcement profession, the hours are weird, and whatever they can take up to enhance that is what they're going to do. I remember early on in my career, the statute of limitations is up on this. But we used to have a bowl in our show up in our briefing rooms, of like ephedrine and ribbed fuel and different supplements, you know, whatever the flavor of the month was just to stay awake through the night. And I think that's how we get caught up in this whole stimulant situation being, you know, cigarettes, I smoked for probably 20 years, supplements, which now have been proven to be harmful. With a veteran. Monster drinks, I don't even I can't even tell you how bad those are. Everybody gets the lecture. But the monster drink said that the energy drinks are enhanced. If you have PTSD, if you have symptoms of PTSD, it's a it's a brand changer, it enhances those symptoms. And so I'm always lecturing people about monster drinks to include my own children who are in the law enforcement profession now as well. That's how we get caught up in it is, whatever we can do to stay awake, whatever we can do to manage our lives outside of this career. I remember many days trying to stay awake through the holidays. You know, just so I could spend Christmas Eve or Christmas day with my children and whatever I had to do to do that meaning supplements, energy drinks, Dr. Pepper, whatever it was, the ends justify the means because I was awake for all of those things. 

Yeah. Yeah. And I can see that and I know, officers have a lot harder time with that. Because they're crazy schedules and trying to be with their families. And it's very difficult, but it seems like it's, there's like there's, there's a level where you can be like, Yeah, this is good. You know, I'll have one monster or whatever, one energy drink. And then it's, you know, use, then it's two, and then it's three. And then it's like, every meal. I'm having one every like, it's just like, it seems like high. It's a slippery slope.

Yeah, it is. And when it becomes the problem, and of course, a lot people are going to be like, why are you even going here? Let's let's take somebody who is addicted to crack. Okay, the first time they spoke a crack pipe for when I'm being told is this euphoric feeling. And then the rest of their lives. They're hooked on it and they're chasing that high. The first high they ever had and they have to use more and more and more. Well, let's switch it now to like, say the energy drinks. One energy drink. Everyone's gonna like oh, yeah, good. I'm back up and ready to go. But then it doesn't work in your sleep. Yeah, I'm not able to sleep so then you're tired at work so then you have to drink the next monster green. Next door picking on Monster Yeah, fill in the blank. Fill in the blank. I don't want whatever energy drink I don't want yeah, negative calls from Monster fill in the blank. Whatever corporation you choose to determine. Yeah, so yeah, but you could so that one energy drink that you were good with turns into two and then three and everything. And then that there's that addiction, you know, sugar. A lot of these drinks are sugar free, but you know, the, whatever the chemicals are in these energy drinks, and of course, like Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper, the sugar and whatnot. That's all addicting, you know, and then you need more of it to get that stimulus.

Yeah, yeah, that's, yeah, it's I think there's been a lot of studies that have showed how addictive sugar is in like mice and like, Hey, do you want cocaine or Sugar and they're like, no, we want sugar. It's way better. Yeah, it's it's pretty, pretty crazy. And I'm glad you brought that up because doesn't know that big rush of caffeine and stuff like that increase your anxiety, which wouldn't that affect your, you know your symptoms of PTSD? Oh, absolutely.

Absolutely. And I think that's been proven. Dr. George Everly the daddy of critical incident stress management. So the international critical incident stress foundation talks about it all the time, and how it just causes this cycle of dysfunction because you're drinking an energy drink, just like we said before, you're drinking an energy drink that causes your body to react as if you're having that cortisol dump. So you're constantly dumping cortisol into your system. And then that causes sleep dysfunction, which causes mood dysfunction, which causes anxiety, nervousness, you know, the shakes, and, and all the things and you just keep that cycle going to keep keep feeling normal.

Yeah. Out of those 10 symptoms, you just said, I was like, Yeah, I'm pretty sure. But most first responders have eight of those, like, 

I will say that firefighters do a much better job than police officers out there because they they talk about they work in shifts together. They're not by themselves that are there together with a group that talks about everything, that they have the opportunity to eat healthier than law enforcement. They have workouts built into their shifts during the day. So I do have to give kudos to the fire agencies because they do a little bit better job in in taking care of first responders and they have recliners that they can sit any the firefighters out there?

Yeah, it's just getting to them. It's just getting to the opportunity to get to them. Right. Yeah. I was, I lost my train of thought for a second because I was just thinking about, you know, how to, it'd be so nice for officers to have the opportunity to work out on shift. You know, there's very few that do. And I know, yeah, and then I know, some in the Salt Lake area, there's like some sleep stations, so they can catch a little quick nap and stuff like that becoming more popular man that would people want to change how officers react on on calls and scenes and stuff like that, because you're always supposed to be superhuman and supposed to be? Yeah, great person 24/7 And never have anything else going on in your life and anything. I think that would just make an immediate impact into officer wellness, which also translates into, I think better customer service.

Absolutely. You're right, because, you know, we always say, you know, we talked to the administration's of agencies, departments, you know, the higher ranking executive staff and whatnot. If, you know, the, the buzzword is, you know, the reimagining of law enforcement, police reform, reform, if you're going to reimagine your department, don't just talk about that. We're gonna set up a whole bunch of classes that has to deal with racial inequities. Sure. Well, that coding, I think, how about let's look at our schedule and see how we can schedule officers work hours, where it's beneficial, not only for the product of customer service and serving the public and protecting, but it also gives the officer plan breaks in their tour of duty. You know, we, we always say, Oh, I hate it when we hear I hear well, that's how we've always done it. Yeah, okay. Well, you know, what, if you're going to reimagine your agency, your department, your Sheriff's Office, or whatever, let's get away from that's how we've always done it, and started looking at how you can actually change the schedules, doing doing everything that you can to have a healthy officer, a healthy employee, in a police department or a fire department to be at the top of your list of police reform. And not at the bottom. Too many departments have at the bottom. But there are a lot of departments that are changing the culture in a good way. We have no departments with decompression rooms, like you said, where they can go and take a nap. We have departments that offer yoga, have workout rooms workout on duty, so it's getting it's slowly changing, but it needs to we need to be a little bit more proactive in getting it done right. And then we'll hear like, well, the budget, you don't have the budget. Okay, well, if you're gonna spend your budget on all the super equipment that you have out there, if you don't have healthy employees to utilize the super equipment, then is that really a good investment? You know, there has to be an investment for the budget to get this mental health and wellness programs online and going. You also you also take officers that 50,000 to $100,000, just to get an officer out on the street, with education and equipment, and then we break them, and then we just toss them aside? I think it would be much better for our budgets to keep this $100,000 investment. Healthy, yeah, throughout their career. And so that's, you know, this is these are the conversations that we're having in a lot of different places. And, and so hopefully, people are listening,

Right. And I think we have to change the culture and in in a first responder world altogether, and I think we're always too afraid to look outside of the first responder world for things that may solve the problems in the first responder world. There's a reason why corporate America and all these other places are changing the way they operate. And putting, I hope, to say more value into the people that they hire and want to keep them specially, you know, the, you know, the times that are now it's like very hard to hire people. And so just like, don't always look to see what other, you know, the department store is doing to for the cool new thing, like think outside the box and maybe bring something new.

Yeah, and be open minded. I think that's a big factor. Because I know early on in my career, if somebody would have said, Oh, you're going to be doing yoga on duty, or cops would be doing yoga at all, that, you know, now they're doing at conferences, it's mainstream to have conferences that have yoga and pilates. I didn't even know what yoga and pilates was early in my career. Nor did I understand that it would be helpful to maintain the mobility that is necessary to be a police officer and firefighter or corrections or EMS. But it took open mindedness within our profession and our culture to get those things to become mainstream. They're not mainstream everywhere. Sure, but we are becoming more open minded. And that's a big factor in employee, you know, all the reform, that reimagining that they want is that we have to think outside the box and yoga and Pilates is is common for everybody. And it's beneficial. It's beneficial.

Yeah, yeah. Cuz mobility is really, that's how we get injured. Yes. So much in a defects. What happens when you're not mobile? How does that affect your mental health? It? You know, it's all kind of tied together. So before I let you do two go today, like let's talk a little bit more about your company where people can follow you and find you. 

Okay, great. Well, yes, we're known as that Peer Support Couple. And I always joke, I say, if you type in that person, or a couple, on the worldwide web, or on Facebook, or an Instagram or on Twitter, we're going to pop up, you know, we're like, Ah, you're in your face. So it's pretty easy to find us. But if you do go to our website, www.cathyandjavi.com, we have links to all our social media there. And, you know, we just try and put the message out through our social media, sometimes it could be an article, sometimes it can be a meme, sometimes it can be our thoughts. But ultimately, it's about giving people something to see, to help them if, especially if they're in a moment where they need to see something for help. And we also like to point out where we're going and who we're meeting with, and what kind of conferences that we're at. Because we want people to know that, you know, we're out there to help others. And if we're in their area, resource gathering, recent and we're in their area, you know, and and, you know, we would love to see y'all and meet them and hear your stories, too, because your stories help us continue the mission of providing peer support mental health and wellness in the segment and ending the stigma. Yeah. 

Yeah, that's awesome. Thank you so much for your time today. That was great conversation. I mean, we hit some things. I think that you know, anybody in the first responder world, and husband and wives definitely are gained some things out of this episode. And that's what I love most about doing them. Especially with, you know, YouTube, that's great.

Thank you, Jerry. Thank you so much. You know, we love when we do vodcast and podcasts where the conversation flows, because then it's like, Oh, it's over? Ahhh,

I totally, totally feel the same. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you. Good bye everybody.

Thanks again for listening. Don't forget to rate and review the show wherever you access your podcasts. If you know someone that would be great on the show, please get a hold of our hosts, Jerry Dean Luncd through the Instagram handles at Jared Veyron fuel or at enduring the badge podcast. Also by visiting the show's website in During the bad podcast.com for additional methods of contact, and up to date information regarding show remember the views and opinions expressed during the show. So we represent those of our hosts, and the current episodes guests.

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