Frank Voce has been so open about his history. You must hear this man's story of strength and vulnerability. He's a fantastic human with a fantastic story. We'll discuss sobriety, mental health in and out of the hospital, rehab, acceptance, what wellness looks like, and peer support, as well as how fitness plays a role in all of this. Frank is the founder of Reps for Responders, which is an incredible organization in and of itself that we'll go over and explain how you can help.
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Hi everyone and welcome to this week's episode of the Enduring to Badge Podcasts. I'm your host Jerry Dean Lund and I don't want you to miss an upcoming episode of So Please Hit that Subscribe button and why your phone's out, please do me a favor and give us a review on iTunes or Apple Podcasts. So 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 will push this up into someone's podcast feed that really needs this message.
Hey everyone. I want you to know how committed and dedicated I am to you. I truly appreciate and love those in the first responder world and those who surround them. They're an incredible important part of my life and I know if you're listening and they are yours as well. And that's why I have these guests on happy, truly amazing guests on so you can learn from their struggles and maybe find those ways to improve your life. If you're struggling through life and not being able to pick up on maybe some of these tips that these amazing guests are giving you, I offer a 3-15 minute phone call with no obligations. I'm going to talk to you about you living up to your greatest potential and ways I can uplift you and assist you in your discovery and having you create true connections if people are around you so you don't feel alone in this world that is so big and sometimes we feel so alone with what we're going through and emotions. My job is to get you to your greatest potential and find ways to motivate you to do that. So please feel free to jump on a 15 minute phone call with me. You can find information at the website Enduring the Badge Podcast and there's a little icon on the bottom right where you can leave me a voicemail or you can go to the coaching tab and schedule a call there or a free to reach out to me with a message on Instagram at Jerry Fire and Fuel if that's my personal one or at Enduring the Badge Podcast.
My very special guest today is Frank Voce and man, you've got to listen to this guy's story of resilience and vulnerability. I have not interviewed against that has been so vulnerable about their past as I have with Frank. It's incredible human with incredible story. We're going to talk about sobriety, mental health being in and out of the hospital, rehab, acceptance, what wellness looks like and peer support and how fitness plays a role in that. Frank is the founder of reps for responders and that's an incredible organization in itself that we're going to dive down into and explain what that is and how you can help them out. Now let's jump right into this episode with my very special guest Frank Voce.
How you doing, Frank? I'm doing a good Jerry. I appreciate you having me on and having able to represent right for responders and the great conversation before we start it. So thank you for what you do when I give them back to the community.
Oh yeah, I appreciate it. Yeah, it's a pleasure. Right when you're able to serve both in your job and serve outside of your job, such as yourself. Frank, tell the audience a little bit about yourself.
So my name is Frank Voce . I've been an active law enforcement officer for seven and a half years currently at work in the New York City Police Department. I'm not here to represent in the NYPD. I'm here representing in rep for responders and the founder of rep for responders nonprofit, which was founded back in January of 2020.
Yeah, so we were talking before we jumped on the show that you were able to get your 513C, your nonprofit started and then you were able to open up a gym and then COVID hit.
Yeah, so I went through a really, really tough and dark time back in 2018. I actually was NYPD then for two and a half years and I actually left the department to go to my hometown department. And when I went there, that's kind of where the upside down. I don't know if you want to strangers things or anything or that's where I kind of kind of ended up in the upside down and had the face like based not life, had the face one of the scariest moments of my life and people in my life and ultimately Jerry, that was myself. You know, I had to kill that version of myself, which was not easy and then ended up going through what I went through, major depressive disorder. Alcohol use disorder. Went back, actually went back to, you know, NYPD. So if you leave, you have up to a year to come back. So I made it up back in that 10 months. But by that time I was walking dead like a zombie. I felt soulless. It was very, very dark. And then when I went through my recovery and started that process in 2019 and my PD had 10 officers loose their life to suicide. And I said, wow, you know, I could have been number 11. It was pretty close. And the job then had some resources, but not what it is today. So I started doing a lot of self research of like 20% of first was 20% of everyday people suffer from trauma, anxiety, depression, and increases to 30% for first responders. One in five officers have a suicide ideation in a lifetime. So not a plan, but a thought of, I hope if I go in a work today, I get into a shooting or if I'm driving my car, I wrap it around a pole or a tree. The average age of a copy 57 to 65, 50% of law enforcement officers when they retire within the first five years have a major cardio vascular issue. So it could be type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, and said, wow, something really needs to be done. And I didn't know much about business, but I know that working out eating as healthy, eating as good as I could can and talking about my day, what like mine in individuals, good day or bad day. I don't even know if we really count bad days, right? Hour by hour has really helped me. So just went took that addiction, flipped the perspective and the switch said, how can I help and started thinking and started a nonprofit? Someone said it would be a good idea. So I just did it and got approved the five of once you three here in New York. And then March 2020 is when we really started to promote it and open up a gym free for first responders and military and March 2020. And the idea was to have first responders go and work out right. So now, if I'm a cop in the city, I might not feel comfortable talking about what I'm going through with or cop in the Bronx or Manhattan. But if I mean another cop in maybe Queens or or another county nearby or fireman or volunteer fireman, now it's like, oh, you're here here to work out. You want to better yourself tell me a little, you know, start talking? Oh, okay, wow, like now maybe call people before or after and get that number. And that was like the delusion because every, every once a week we want to have like a roll call of whatever happens here, stays here on filtered roll coll and try to just like guys and girls vent where it's a safe haven and have in person meetings. But unfortunately, that did not last because the gym was open for 10 days for good and then then COVID happened.
Yeah, that's crazy. How did you survive the the COVID shutdown?
Well, we first, we started to go for me like I feel like a lot of people do and and it actually started to blow up. Like people started to donate a lot like a lot of money because I would say the flavor of the year that year for my P.D. was to unfortunately the all services and the lack of suicide and it and it still should be talked about every single single day, you know. And we raised money quick was able to donate that money into the equipment and then the ran and I put a lot of my own money into it and then at that crossroad where if I go left I can say well I was about four months old by the time. Well, you know it was worth the shot and I can focus maybe on my own with sobriety and just say hey you know it was, be able to shot and it didn't work out and that's it.
or the other path was this is one first responders really need us the most and this is one Frank needs himself the most and let's just not give up on it right now just because it didn't go your way right in A.A. terms it goes our plan versus our higher power is plan so kind of made a tactical retreat surrendered to the COVID and made a strategic plan for now. Jockel will talk about tactical planning for a strategic planning and we just did a lot of online like everyone else did and had a good team behind me and still due to this day can't continue this alone at it all and we just started doing online workouts and just posting mental health basically like statistics and the science behind it and just like having an active cop especially in the NYPD myself and other first responders up on board but talk about their issues and talk about this was like oh some people were kind of like you know holy holy crap this guy is talking about this and he's going through what he like just went through and still being monitored by the job and I said what are they going to do semi semi back to rehab that's fine I make a joke and say I would love to go once a year you know you go there you get paid you get the work on yourself and things like that and a big part of our program today started back in I would say April 2020 was our respondent talk meetings and that's every Sunday night via zoom seven to eight PM Eastern time and that's open to all active retired first responders and our umbrella is police firefighter EMS EMT correction nurses police dispatchers any any any dispatch really and military personnel so we've had check in from 23 different states across the country which has been a blessing because now if I'm a cop in New York going back to what I said and I hear something in the meeting from a cop in Utah or firefighter in Utah or California like biop now I really like there's no way this is ever going to get back to my job I might not even feel I've remeet this person I might feel comfortable opening up to this person and we have a lot of you know people checking in from New York to New Jersey to Florida Colorado Texas Delaware Maryland you name it Massachusetts so it's just like the main names that are coming in my head the people that are in the states I come all the time and that kind of just that's like our bread and butter of our program from topic meetings to guest speakers we've had guest speakers Navy seals NFL players big fitness names doctors you have a big copy every day fireman just talking about their story or bringing up a topic and you know how did they get to where they they are today and share their strengths experience and hope
yeah yes that's quite a journey so I'm gonna kind of dive down into some of this with your Frank and I'm like you know with two years on the job you you felt like you're kind of like two to three years you're like a walking zombie how did how did she get to that point like that's in some people's mind I know he's like that seems very quick but I mean everybody carries their own their own weight and you know and I can't walk in your shoes so I have no no I did right we can't judge others for you know how fast things happen to them or don't happen to them
yeah so that's a great question actually I'm I had probably done like 10 to 15 of these and I don't think anyone ever recorded it like that so I appreciate that and would be more than glad to to share with you and your audience so I left in 2018 and when I was there in the Bronx of Cop in the Bronx by Yankee Stadium very busy command of his house I was able to I would say I don't want to say leave everything because that would be just be me lying but leave the most things in the city and able to have a very very strong camaraderie so I played college football upstate in New York and when I got into the city it kind of felt like oh wow you know the camaraderie the back on that football field that's a young mindset I was 23 at the time right so 23 year old and I believe that even 21 it still you know just wait too young to to be a cop and what life experience do you have I'm 30 years old that when I have some life experience a lot more but you really have to know who you are and really stop lying to yourself but anyway that's what I was doing I was lying to myself a lot and I thought you know I was competing in powerlifting and doing all these shows and I could have missed hanging out with the guys and and the four to four is where you work a four to twelve and then you go out and you go to the bar and you hang out with the guys and girls mostly guys and then what you do when you talk about the job you talk about police work so if you think about it you just worked another four hours for free because you're brain didn't shut off about police work right sure you're gonna be sure and you probably spent more money you knew it were for free because you spent money at the bar so when I left I came to my hometown department it was like the I called the Willy walk ago and take it like I got it close to the home safer more money it's it's like a note it's a note brainer right and for me I would say the in the beginning had a little rough FTO experience and things like that that really bothered me and I was it's not double man car or partner it's a solo patrol so I was time went on I was doing solo patrol in my hometown and I just felt like I couldn't make escape and I just started playing that what effect there and that tape and creating scenarios in my head over and over again do I want to do this for 20 years in my hometown I felt like I could kind of escape there were you know you know a lot of people there and you know you're going to the calls where you grew up with some people and their situations where you gotta do what you gotta do give my own uncle Narcan and CPR I mean caught in peat like being on an incident where you know the person and things like that and kind of just like did I make this decision for myself or did I make this decision for my ego and at that point probably my super ego to say well look at me I got at the I got at it and my pity and all you suckers is still there and I'm young and I made I'm gonna make all this money I'm in this really really great department and I did it and I started to beat myself up a lot and the way I knew how to cope then was either work out or hang out with Jack and Jose Jack and Jose wherever so I went from a drinking in my all-days and I was a black outtricker I was Jerry for going to the bar you know we're not gonna go for one I got to have at least 10 beers before we get there and then I got a pay for your drinks and you know life is great and Jerry I love you man and you know I don't even know who you are we've been talking three you know
I'm like 15 minutes right yeah that's the kind of person I was and when I went started to that negative thinking wheel started to see behaviors in my self and it happened relatively quickly for me drinking alone never drank by myself ever started to shy away from things that I enjoyed which was working out talking my friends get rid of my social media when I get out of bed so those are signs of what depression right and I didn't know at the time and as I started seeing this and my girlfriend was very worried and we moved into an apartment together and I thought that would fix everything you know you know make her happy when moving and it'll be good and this will just kind of disappear but it didn't disappear my drinking started to increase and I remember when I had my very very vividly remember basically my first panic attack and I don't like that word basically it's it's in us it's been a nuisance to start a mankind right fight flight or free yeah parasympathetic nervous system and just going off the adrenaline the cortisol right and that's when that was like wow okay and got really I just remember being very anxious like a little rabbit all the time and started to take over and the drinking just when you're going to a mental health crisis or just any type of mental health issues that drinking to me and my experience will speed that up very very quickly because in the moment you think it's just numbing and hiding everything right but then the effect of two to three days later it's like 10 times worse so now if it's 10 times worse what am I going to continue to do well I'll just strengthen them it out yeah so that's kind of where that question hopefully I answered it was my drinking and my behavior is definitely sped that process up and I'm an addict so if I'm beating myself up and I I'm going to beat myself up even harder and yes you could definitely be addicted to your thoughts and then I just remember one day waking up and everything was black and white not literally but my perception and I just like remember feeling my nervous system just shut off and so I'm sorry we can't take this anymore we're done relieving you and I couldn't feel anything I mean if we were walking down the street and we weighed down my mom and someone was robbing her I remember just saying it back then five years ago I was just watched like I couldn't decide what I wanted to do to eat I just remember in the car having a green green green tea from Duncan donuts and I would get a protein shake and that's all I would eat so now I've really sought like now I was depriving my physical body as well and then I thought like in my mind well I made this choice I came here and now I have to suffer that I have to suffer I have this is part of being a cop this is part of being a first responder is that you know this is I have to suffer and I have to do this
yeah so when you when you woke up and everything was kind of black and white we're just like just totally like you're saying just totally numb like how did you know when or how to to get help if you're like feeling just nothing I guess
yeah that's when I said wow I was 25 at the time then and I said okay this is what depression is like depression is real so before that it's like how can anyone ever be depressed life is good come on I can't last longer than because everybody gets anxious so depressed and you're going anxious for on a job a new promotion going on a date new school whatever it is but then that was my mindset then and still it is today that everyone goes through it's being human spouts of anxiety depression and then when I realized it was lasting for months I was like oh okay and I think constantly I was trying to hide it and then I have a great family and support network and I was kind of like a broken record you know I stay or should I go that song should I stay or should I go and and that was my life I couldn't talk about anything else and I was getting tired of being sick and tired and seeing myself slowly rumble so I went and saw a psychologist um social worker and I just remember even paying my cash because I was so worried that the job is going to find out and I wanted to go on as insurance it couldn't go on insurance I'll pay out a pocket all this and did that and after a few months recommended a psychiatrist and still at that department right where and I just remember getting put on my first medication ever was Sarah Quill and Prozac and when was within like two weeks that's when the suicide ideation started to occur and I said well I'm literally going to like go in a work going into the R&P to please gore and I can't even remember the password to lock in like I'm putting an old password and not be in myself anymore I'm sweating right these are very powerful medications yeah so I said why would I take this medication if I feel like this when I could just drink so I stopped to call Turkey would you definitely should not do and I started drinking again it was back and forth and in that in that span Jerry within a span of a year I was put on seven different SSRIs and it died to presence serotonin and yeah so um and for the listeners if you don't know what the SSRIs are right it's Sarah Tonne and selective Sarah Tonne and we have taken him with it so it's basically take this pill and not over 95% of our Sarah Tonne is created in our stomach right so it doesn't actually create Sarah Tonne but what it does the brain receptors is tries to heal those brain receptors from the inflammation the over the trauma the over the whatever's going on up there like the brain is still being studied today and it's magnificent it's very magnificent yeah I try to heal those so you're but then you will release more serotonin and that's why we also pushed a lot of fitness and nutrition here at Reps for Responders because we'd probably believe in science will show the foods we eat can either help fight against other pressure anxiety or we'll help cause our anxiety and depression so just going back and forth it's still not accepting that drinking is an issue..
here are five tips if you're feeling stuck in your life still one take full responsibility of your life don't be that victim anymore you have to get past that number two praise and enjoy the process focus on the journey when things get tough focus on the end where you're headed and why you're headed there if you truly know those little things are not gonna knock you off your track number three become anti-fragile once again don't let those little things knock you down they're in a breathing process though you can get through them and not get stuck in that moment number four cut out the crappy friends that are sucking the life out of you because you can't excel if you're around a bunch of crappy friends that are not gonna help you excel and number five you need to cultivate grit and perseverance knowing your journey and having it written down and having it destination is going to keep you on track and help you with that grit and perseverance on getting you to where you want to be now let's jump right back into this episode
you know I remember the psychiatrist wasn't very fond of her but I didn't know better uh mentioned a a meeting and I was like in my I'm like oh I'll check it out in my head I'm like there's no way like I'm not one of them I'm no way and yeah as time went on got worse and worse and probably in about October of 2018 my girlfriend left and then I was like oh wow you know there's in this apartment for what five six months it disaster I wasn't it wasn't to when anything wasn't pain for cable wasn't taking care of the house so it was just drinking and hiding and lying and very happy that you left because she was suffering a lot too and you know there's just we have to remember that being a first responder and also the disease of addiction is a family a family disease it affects everybody so then I moved back to my parents house and uh let's just say that it was still very very dark my friends really they felt bad but they can do anything and they didn't really want to talk to me anymore because I would just have the same conversation over and over again and here I am just seeing myself literally just crumple and basically the thought of what do I have else to live for I was I would get my goals of working out college football I became a cop in the city my hometown there's nothing else for me there's nothing else here and for so long I didn't want to reach out because how can I there's no way I'm gonna let my gun and shield get taken away right or not or but I basically rather just kill myself and for being flat on a stat will sit thinking that's how like that's what was happening
I can understand that I can understand that
and we see it a lot in this
so my aunt is a doctor at a big hospital in the New York City and she's like you know you're in a very bad way and I said yes I am and she said you should go to New York Presbyterian and Manhattan and kind of fought that and then New Denver of 2018 I made that decision and kind of family made that decision for me and I just said okay like I'll go and went there and talk to the doctors and they said you know you you I try to explain what was going on as best I can in that mindset
and already talking about it so much it's like how much more every time you speak about it it's just like it burns a little more and that's really all I kind of like taught myself to just keep speaking about that and but I wasn't doing any like action right like yeah I was going to therapy and ultimately that therapist really opened up my mind and it was a huge part of my recovery and saving my life but by then I was and it's see that back then and then they said okay sign this paper and we'll take care of you and and I said okay so I sign this paper and I got admitted and then they took me upstairs and I remember seeing like I was in late as a class big room and it was like yeah this is like five star four hospital and I ended up going to sleep that night and I woke up and like all right we're gonna move you over to our center and watchchester and I said okay no problem and we'll have to hospital about to go on the ambulance I like you can't do that so when you mean like you have to you have to go on the stretcher and I'm like what am I going to get serious so I want to stretch her and now like all right things are kind of off and pull up to this place walking side and like all right take your shoes off untie your take your shoe lace off and that's why I knew like holy shit like you're in the sightboard and now I said to myself now I'm really done like I'll never be a cop again no I will trust me this is this is bad in my head you know maybe I'll have to have a lobster fisherman in Maine and just leave and just a lot of guilt and shame and then it won't be seen by anybody because it's like how life was going great right like we just begin about this before frank plan for a higher power plan and yeah A terms and kind of self sabotage my own self and I really couldn't take that then so I was in there for about two weeks and what it did was it basically can't be safe from click on the lead because I was very honest at that point I was just very you know I mean very vulnerable without even knowing I was being vulnerable I would say I was pretty pretty honest but of course took some time to get some things out and it was 23 hours and 50 minutes a day and a legit sightboard there are stories in there for another time and some some really really spiritual awakening stories to like some spiritual moments of coming across people that I came across on the job of Felicia yeah and you talked to the doctor for 10 minutes and then that was it so then you have 23 hours and 15 minutes to do these groups medication time meal time used to phone when you're allowed to go outside twice a week for 30 minutes a day like it was a prison there was no rehab in there at all was really just to keep you safe and I'm talking really sick people with like psychosis and it's a friend he in there
so I left and I literally remember leaving like laughing out loud like the Joker and I said holy shit like I'm worse nothing changed and as cops and first responders we want we think we're on control of everything like we want to control it we want this decision done now and we want to fix it and just like leave but there's no fixing this in a day in five hours in a month it takes years so I what did I do I got put on another medication there was a factor so from I've been about right like what's maybe like 10 months now 11 months I was put on and I'm only saying this so people can you know there might be listeners I have been on it and thank you for that yeah and again just please do not do not drink on it if you're going to take medication medication is it does help but you also have to put in the work of the therapy of any correctly of any type of fitness of any type of resiliency skills coping skills that you have it's not just popping up hill and all right my depression is going to go away ultimately you need to be honest with yourself you need to surrender and there's a difference between surrendering and quitting I was on the prozac the circle then I was on the off of that then I was on Zoloft then I was on well-busion then I was on a rexalty then when I went into press material and I was put on a fixer and the movie that departed did you ever see that Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Walberg the police movie it was I don't know maybe early like 2000s anyway
I'm sure I have it like yeah I'm ringing a bell at this Mark Walberg
yeah and Leonardo DiCaprio is basically wants to be like a trooper and a cup and and Massachusetts and they haven't just undercover work first before you can really get where he wants and he's pretending to be somebody like basically in the mob that he's not and he's destroying him so I remember him seeing it there and she's like how are you feeling and he's like you want to know how I'm feeling I'm being somebody that I'm not I'm taking these Medicaid and taking these pills that strive to me crazy blah blah blah and then there's a scene that he's what like right after like during the scene actually puts on those scenes what Mark Wolverg and Mark Wolverg basically like calls him out and says everybody basically goes to this like your cop man up I can have your file erase in a second like this is what happens like just basically shut up stop talking about it and just do your work and that's how I felt in in that time and I was just like a perfect relation to to my life then so when I left and I I would have I do I check myself back in and I said I got to tell you guys something and I said I've been drinking and they're like oh well why don't you tell us how I'm the first place and I said because I didn't know it was a big deal and they just looked at me and they handed me this book and I said okay they said I want you to read this thing called the doctor's opinion and I said okay this is a pretty long big book what's the cool they said it's the big book I said I know it's a big book they said it's the big book of alcohol synonymous is it oh okay so I read that it took me a long time to read the doctor's opinion there but I read it and just trying to concentrate on the page and have it make sense and I just remember what stuff would mean then was people that are suffering from alcohol use disorder alcoholism whatever you want whatever you call it it's an allergic reaction to the brain and I kind of just saying to myself well if I was gonna eat I don't know peanuts or peanut butter or chocolate my throat would close and all that like why would I keep doing this obviously alcohol is it's very powerful so I think that's just that just stuck with me so they said okay what would do is we're gonna hold you for another two weeks and then we'll put you in our inpatient treatment downstairs so I said okay so I did that once in an inpatient treatment basic knowledge and it was okay but I was there for like a total of six weeks so I got out and at that time my PBA rep took my gun and shield away from me and everything and then I had to go see the job psychologists and then I went there it was kind of I remember vividly walking in and just like how I say psychologists saying like wow you're very depressed and I just wanted to be like no shit like thanks for pulling out the obvious so insult to injury that almost there
it was just like thank you thanks for letting me know and um I ended up asking basic I said I want to I said I want to be a cop I know I'm a good cop I came back for this job for this reason I just I just need some help and she said I said any recommendations or what's gonna happen and there was no like you should reach out to this person or talk here it was well newer press material and so you put out patient program while she just do that and I just said okay so I did that I was going to Jersey and it was an outpatient program where it was just like kind of like a combat yassurcle nice people but it was just not helping me and I wasn't helping myself so going through that for like a month and I was my mom just found she's in her stew my dad's a volunteer firefighter for four years my uncle is FDA and why I had to retire because I'm not 11 both my great grandparent around my PD so it's kind of I guess runs in the blood and the DNA and it's kind of all I knew because in my mind I said well my whole family also grew up in my hometown and going through all that transition was like how could I leave I don't want to I don't want to let other people down that was still my my mindset and I was doing it for all these other people meanwhile Jerry I was literally literally killing myself like mentally physically spiritually everything and she's found this rehab center for me we call it the farm in police terms and I was still those there's no way I'm gonna go away somewhere when I just got out of this you know we'll leave it like that
and I ended up doing it like two three days later I thought about it you know was still drinking when I got out maybe that lasted like I don't know a few days and I said okay and I went and I went to they kind of basically forced me which is good I went to high-watch recovery center and 10 Connecticut I was there for two weeks Desami I mean like lifeless and then for another four weeks I kind of started to come back alive and it was a great place and started to really work on like the A model you had to say college is social work in there I say chitris and I'm just like in there in a dorm like 12 other guys and realizing that yes I'm a cop there's no other cops there but there's doctors lawyers blue collar people homeless people all together for this disease of addiction I'm like wow you know we're really not and I say we as I'm like cops we're really not so different than the rest and the answer is that's true because we're all human we have the essential nervous system same brain same heart I just what are we doing with you experiences in our childhood and things like that it really is what makes us different of course our DNA we don't want everyone walking around looking like me that's just what that would be a disaster so I left there and I went back and I still had my job right so think about it Jerry I day allowed me to go I went there for six weeks and I came home I had to re-checks waiting for me so I literally got paid to work on like my recovery sobriety and things like that and maybe I was I was sober for a little bit and I got transferred from my from my precinct to somewhere else and that first I was like oh here we go again you know I've got to share my story you know what's going to want to talk to me and everything like that this guy's not this guy's crazy and it up being one of the best things that happened was working in the detective girl learned a lot of detective work, a lot of good and cool people experience and it was actually phenomenal so as I'm going to do that in my career to timber of well before September happened I went to rehab I went to rehab February of 2019 April 2019 and then the summer came around and I kind of said all right summer time still have my job I only drink at Yankee Game for the Jersey Shore where where nobody will know who I am and no one will will know and of course that didn't last very long and then my girlfriend came back into my life and she heard and kind of it's basically heard through the great buying that was attempted to get sober and I was sober but blah and we go back forth and finally I asked if she wanted to come to a wedding with me in like September of 2019 and she actually said yes like okay and we went and I told myself I wasn't going to drink and I walked in there and there was a waterfall, water fell in, sarak, bark could come down and I was like all right it's over and I'm like I'm not going to drink that much I'm not going to say anything stupid I'm going to be cool I'm like these are thoughts I'm telling myself true and it up lacking out and she drove my car home and then the next day this is another thing called a spiritual awakening in A terms we are in the dark park and she was very upset she said why are you doing this to yourself like I came back into your life I want to leave already your friends are coming back to your life you still have your job do you really want to kill yourself because of this and there was still a lot of things I had to work on of letting go and saying like it's okay like it's okay that that job did it work out and it's both me okay is because I wasn't ready and I said you're right I'm going to head a meeting tonight and September of 23rd of 2019 that kind of just took off one meeting at a time one day at a time and then I kind of dove that's why I flipped this switch and sort of really researching all this first responder met the health criteria and that's how rep for responders was basically was basically born and going through the COVID and that and now instead of having a gym what we do is we raise money for is we raise money for we pay for first responders their gym membership so we have partnership over here in New York with the presenters at 2 gym across the gym was trying to condition gym and we'll pay for your first 90 days and of course as criteria you have to meet in month one once too after those 90 days it's up to you if you want to continue to be in member of that gym we have a more recovery coach so recovery coach through through substance use disorder and substances my wife is a recovery coach so yeah that girlfriend became my wife we just got married in August
so yeah thank you so she's a she's the vice president she is a health coach she's a recovery coach she's a huge huge help huge part of our first responders
a huge health reps and a huge help to helping me in my recovery here give me a line she runs a she started her own business and also she has a full-time job but she started as business called relationships and recovery so everyone say night she runs a meeting for females only where their spouses or boyfriends or sons are attempting to get sober or they just started recovery and it's like across the country girls just checking in and it's it's been a great thing and of course like being a Leo wife it's it's great for one other people reach out and when I speak to them like oh come my wife and you know give that contact to Christina we have in the nutrition and health coach as well where 90 days we pay for once a week to the check-in and it's more of everyone thinks you're coming for the food but it's like let's let's see what's happening first and with your habits your behavior how much nicotine how much caffeine are you sleeping a little things like that and attacking that those meal that those meal plans and those calories are changing clean so like all right just follow this and cookie cutter for basic knowledge it's not like that met the health professional addiction trauma specialist been doing it for 40 years and what we do is we will pay for 12 resiliency sessions we call it and it's basically information and education on or any how to stay present mindfulness education on addiction and education and anxiety depression so hopefully when that for and the first respondable has some tools now on their gone belt on their fire truck whatever on on on their person on their in their toolkit and take it for their coworkers but ultimately take it for themselves we do event redo events and honor of the officers that lost the life of suicide the previous years so we do all work out events we've done them across New York and Jersey Rhode Island Virginia we wrote a book that's on Amazon building resilience ring conquering the job for a sponsor specifically how we started why we started the services we provide and basic information on mental health fitness nutrition emotional intelligence, Kevin Gilmouran who wrote the emotional survival guide for law enforcement a guide for awesome families for Reddit the book for us so just really really cool things and of course running that meeting every Sunday and here we are today today's January 16th 2023 none of us have ever lived this day before unless you're a martymad fly right that's a grounding tip that that we use here is to be easy on yourself and we don't know what's going to happen in this day but we got to be through the best that we can if we're doing that the next right thing that kind of leads us up to a lot less suffering because there's no escaping the suffering is just when it happens where you're going to where you're going to put it
and you don't have to put it somewhere alone it's true it's true prank man
that's that's a that's a powerful story that is quite a journey I like just sitting back here listening that that took a lot of I don't know how to like classify it into words like bravery fortitude like a lot of different things to get through that extended period of time I think
yeah I appreciate that
like and I also love like reps for first responders I always think like we're pretty good in you know taking care of our body let's say working out wise I won't say any other taking care of our body but maybe we can we like know how to work out but the mental reps right it's the combining the physical and the mental the reps like doing one without the other is only going to get you so far right it's not going to get you all the way to where you want to be
yeah absolutely I mean it's it's connected I mean when you look at the pressure as well you look at any type of mental health disorder it also affects the physical body and when you work out of course a lot of people want to work out for the changes in the physical appearance but then it's also helping out your heart it's helping out your organs it's improving your brain it's releasing the dopamine the serotonin the endorphins it is fully connected and part of that journey as well that I left out was I actually left that department and in February of this year I got a call from the NYPD Health of the one-thousand section that was created because of the suicide we call epidemic in 2019 and they asked me if I wanted an interview because of the work I was doing at Reps for responders so got the interview had that gig and I did that from February to this past December and I was just basically doing what I was doing already which was great and get working and helping cops with sobriety recovery working out nutrition resiliency teaching at the academy one police plaza like things that if you walked into my my my psych ward wing and said frankly hang on tight like we're gonna have this podcast and like three years and you're four years we're gonna be helping out a lot of men and women together I would be like Jerry hit the road hit the road yeah I come on and that's a beautiful thing about recovery is that promises to come true and things happen and like more than our wild streams like really the answer was always right in front of us like doors right there but it was just we're always just so clouded that we couldn't even like open up the door and going through what I went through January of 2020 started bringing back was supposed to be my final interview with the jobs psychologists I was telling you about so talking about being sober and able to like slow it down and and able to hopefully not hopefully deal with your emotions the best you can I got a phone call basically stating that my doctor left the department two hours I got to call two hours before my final interview and I had to start with a new doctor and I said what I had to say and then that sorry it's a they said sorry it's a mistake up on the higher up end we'll call you in two weeks January 2020 that turned to eight months nobody on the job called text email reached out nothing so that kind of lit more fire to really pushing reps quicker and starting that because I said holdy shit like how how could like I was full months so breath time like what about all the other guys at girls the cases that she had they just disappear like dust in the wind so that was one of the main reasons why so then I started in July of 2020 a new doctor and no doctor's gonna sign off on the other doctors notes and now all that I just start the process all over again which benefited me even more because I was able to have steady days off able to have a routine and all that stuff and then I finally went back full duty so I was I was in percatory I was a misfit Jerry for four years and I finally went back full duty the day before Thanksgiving this year and then since I was on restricted assignment I had to go back to my permanent my temporary my permanent command so they happened quick because of the under staffing in the NYPD and everything that's going on and they sent me back to my original present that I left and came back for and now I've been back on the street for a month full and patrol back in the city in the south Bronx by Yankees Stadium and yeah it's a it's a different journey trying to get back into health and well in the section because that's I feel like my destiny is for that and it's my passion and what I what I really enjoy is being able to have a relationship with someone and it's not like one will call and of course you help people but it's like all right you take a report or maybe you you know give CPR and you say do what you got to do and then it's just like all right like have a good life
have a good life and then of course you get the typical run-ins that you coming to in a street and things like that and that's it but now with this type of work and even having this podcast you're able to like really learn about the person and watch the person grow and ultimately they help you grow yeah you always see a part of yourself and somebody that's right from like belief and I just didn't want to forget about that because even though it sounds like I went through a hard time and then like oh you everything was great like no there's there's ups and there's ups and downs ups and downs ups and flows like that suffering when it's gonna happen it can be my my new suffering maybe medium suffering a lot of big suffering like what are you where are you gonna put it and my father actually ended up going to the same rehab that I did and he is been sober since 2019 like November and this guy was going to hold a cast of those this I mean he had a knife and a hard corner through his chest was gonna go first a knife and a gun going through his chest because he had the pain killers and booze oh well so last year he got diagnosed with a kidney failure Renal failure he had a kidney disease when he was 30 years old so a burger disease kidney and his with you know drinking doesn't help of course but this kidney scavows been a dye else is this last February I attempted to be a donor but I also have no normal immune disease also of colitis so that was the only reason why they want to take me and it's you know it's thanks right it's yeah um shared it on social media a few weeks ago blew up and the one who was oh we you know oh I didn't know I'm sorry people reached out in friends of mine and it was like well you don't know because we you know we didn't share it but I did share it with my my circle of Rutgers spotters and things like that and actually today got a call early in the morning that my my mom and my father were heading down to Hype in Cycnejersy Hospital because they they think they have a kidney for him and it's a match and he's going to the whole process right now so again ups and downs right when I do out that I couldn't be that donor in October it's actm and it really sucked sure um and a few months later that's why like that one day at a time which is like the hardest thing to do but it is also the one is the most peaceful thing to do is absolutely true in in my role and sometimes you have to cut it down to like 20 minutes at a time and hour at a time and uh and yeah
yeah there's a lot of great takeaways from your story and I think it's as you know as much as I do as like when you're interviewing and talking to people on podcasts and stuff like that there's just a lot of things that you you personally learn like you like you say and seeing something and someone else right like I can see some my I can see some things in me renew like you know that resemble me like and I can see that and like which helps me in a lot of ways always say like like you're saying life is full these ups and downs but like listening to you learning from you like I can minimize those ups and downs by the things I've learned from you and that's the one the biggest reasons why I do the podcast is just try like even out those ups and downs in in our lives so that we're able to handle them better to be resilient right? And I appreciate you being so vulnerable Frank like that that's one of probably the our probably the top most vulnerable story I think I've had on the podcast.
Well well thank you I won going back to what you just said before previously was I agree I agree a lot when you when basically you can accept that we're not so different that's where the healing starts to begin and then second thank you very much. Yeah I mean there's nothing really to hide that didn't get me anywhere in my in my life and in my career fake it to make it only only worked for a very short period of time so um no I I appreciate you let me come out here and sharing the rep's mission and sharing my story and hopefully that's always a help just one that's why we do what we do is why I do what I do and thank you for helping me stay sober today because he's definitely a great great way to be right the middle of the afternoon hour by hour and positive impact for the rest of the day and if anyone ever needs anything you know we're here to do the best we can.
Yeah and I think that's just that you know to kind of wrap that up there's a little bit power of vulnerability right the power of being willing to be vulnerable to share your story is definitely going to help someone else.
Yeah absolutely when when we we know what our everyone has a kryptonite want to kill each heal. Once we know what it is that that's that's a good that's a good tactical plan but once we accept all right it's different once we accept what it is and say okay this is this is me this is this is a part of me what am I going to do now to hopefully heal it or kind of like tame the beast right what coping skills do I have when that kill is heal gets injured or that kryptonite you know it's me and in regards that's that's that's the alcohol to me but it has it's at everyday work Jerry I mean I could say like life is all rainbows and sunshine and I'd be lying to you you know like yeah everyday is a beautiful day but it's just vulnerability and ups and downs that's it what are you going to do with it when start going down like up up up up on that roller coaster and then all of a sudden
yeah yeah yeah
yeah you have a plan right
where can people follow you and follow the mission of reps for responders
reps for responders dot org email is reps for our email of responders at gmail.com instagram reps underscore for underscore responders pretty active on on instagram or our book is on amazon youtube channel podcast on it's called Inside the Labroth where we just had conversations like this me and my co-host both cops and talk to other first responders and other people not first responders or not to talk about how they got to where they are so I appreciate your thank you for let me be on here and share my strength experience and hope and thank you for your service
yeah thank you really appreciate it. thanks again for listening don't forget to rate and review the show wherever you access your podcast if you know someone that would be great on the show please get a hold of our host Jerry Dean Lund do the instagram handles at Jerry fire and fuel or at enduring the badge podcast also by visiting the show's website enduring the badge podcast dot com for additional methods of contact and up to date information regarding show remember the views and opinions expressed during the show solely represent those of our host and the current episodes guest
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