All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast

Resilience Renewed - Stepping Back In with guest David Nathanson

January 05, 2024 Travis McGaha / Eric Stephenson Season 2 Episode 1
Resilience Renewed - Stepping Back In with guest David Nathanson
All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast
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All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast
Resilience Renewed - Stepping Back In with guest David Nathanson
Jan 05, 2024 Season 2 Episode 1
Travis McGaha / Eric Stephenson

When the going gets tough, the tough get resilient. Join us as we dove deep into resilience, trauma and recovery with the extraordinary David Nathanson, Executive Director of the Eagle Oak Retreat Foundation. David, a champion in aiding first responders and veterans bounce back from trauma, introduced us to the Warrior Path program - a seven-day intensive training designed to help individuals handle stress with poise. We discussed the crucial role a supportive community plays in the journey of rehabilitation and the importance of trusting the process, key elements in successfully reintegrating into everyday life after treatment.

Want to know how to draw strength from your hardships? Listen closely as we explore resilience and self-care within the world of first responders and military. Let our own experiences and strategies inspire you. We highlight the power of a positive attitude, the art of reflecting and gratitude, and the merits of leaving your comfort zone. Understand that this is a journey of overcoming trauma and making progress through recovery. 

What happens if trauma is left unaddressed? This episode also sheds light on the cumulative effects of trauma and the need for continuous aftercare in addiction recovery. We underscore the importance of therapy and counseling, and share resources like Boulder Crest's Warrior PATHH program. Listen to us share our personal experiences and insights on how to support those who have been exposed to trauma. 

About David:

David “Nate” Nathanson was born, raised, and educated in New Jersey. An avid cyclist, outdoorsman, lifelong learner, lover of music, Harley enthusiast, Jeep owner, and Scuba Divemaster, David served as both an enlisted Marine and an officer of Marines. He has commanded at every level from platoon to regiment, including a combat logistics battalion during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Additionally, he participated in many campaigns, operations, and humanitarian assistance operations during his more than 30-year career. He received his Bachelor's Degree from Rutgers University, two Master's Degrees from the Marine Corps University, and one from the Naval War College. He lives in Texas with his amazing wife Kathy, his pit bulls Leonidas and Cleopatra, and his cats Fergus and Finn. He has four children and four grand children who call him “Papa.”

Learn more about David and Eagle Oak Retreat at
eagleoakretreat.org

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

When the going gets tough, the tough get resilient. Join us as we dove deep into resilience, trauma and recovery with the extraordinary David Nathanson, Executive Director of the Eagle Oak Retreat Foundation. David, a champion in aiding first responders and veterans bounce back from trauma, introduced us to the Warrior Path program - a seven-day intensive training designed to help individuals handle stress with poise. We discussed the crucial role a supportive community plays in the journey of rehabilitation and the importance of trusting the process, key elements in successfully reintegrating into everyday life after treatment.

Want to know how to draw strength from your hardships? Listen closely as we explore resilience and self-care within the world of first responders and military. Let our own experiences and strategies inspire you. We highlight the power of a positive attitude, the art of reflecting and gratitude, and the merits of leaving your comfort zone. Understand that this is a journey of overcoming trauma and making progress through recovery. 

What happens if trauma is left unaddressed? This episode also sheds light on the cumulative effects of trauma and the need for continuous aftercare in addiction recovery. We underscore the importance of therapy and counseling, and share resources like Boulder Crest's Warrior PATHH program. Listen to us share our personal experiences and insights on how to support those who have been exposed to trauma. 

About David:

David “Nate” Nathanson was born, raised, and educated in New Jersey. An avid cyclist, outdoorsman, lifelong learner, lover of music, Harley enthusiast, Jeep owner, and Scuba Divemaster, David served as both an enlisted Marine and an officer of Marines. He has commanded at every level from platoon to regiment, including a combat logistics battalion during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Additionally, he participated in many campaigns, operations, and humanitarian assistance operations during his more than 30-year career. He received his Bachelor's Degree from Rutgers University, two Master's Degrees from the Marine Corps University, and one from the Naval War College. He lives in Texas with his amazing wife Kathy, his pit bulls Leonidas and Cleopatra, and his cats Fergus and Finn. He has four children and four grand children who call him “Papa.”

Learn more about David and Eagle Oak Retreat at
eagleoakretreat.org

Your one stop shop for graphic design, screen printing, embroidery and more.  Proud sponsor of the All Clear Podcast.

Use the code All Clear to get 10% off your first order.

studioprintshop.com

Support the Show.

Thanks for listening to All Clear!

You can contact us with questions, suggestions or just to say hi at our website
allclearpodcast.com


Also Visit Our Sponsors - Studio Print Shop at
studioprintshop.com

Speaker 1:

This week on All Clear resilience, renewed stepping back in with guest David Nathanson, executive director of the Eagle Oak Retreat Foundation. I'm Travis, got Eric over there with us and we have a special guest today. Oh, by the way, hello Eric. Hey, thanks, We'll take that as a hello, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for coming. We've got David.

Speaker 1:

Nathanson with us today. Yeah, pretty excited about that. So David Nathanson is a specialist in helping first responders vets to recover their I guess their sense of normalcy after traumatic experiences and such. And, david, thank you for being with us tonight. And what I'm going to do is let you introduce yourself, tell us about your program and tell us about you and how you got to where you're at.

Speaker 3:

Great Thank you. Appreciate the opportunity to speak with you both tonight and anybody out there listening. So I'm the executive director for Eagle Oak Retreat Foundation. It is a nonprofit located in Italy, texas, and, as you said, we specialize in helping first responders and veterans who have experienced trauma, through their service to the country or the community, recover from that trauma, ask them to not accept a diminished version of himself and help them transcend that trauma into a life, moving them into a category of post traumatic growth.

Speaker 3:

We offer a program, our flagship program, called Warrior Path. Path is progressive alternative training for helping heroes. It is a peer led program. It's seven days of intensive training on the ranch and then 83 more days extended training facilitated via Zoom calls. We have a marvelous app that was facilitated for us by Boeing, and then we've got student guides that allows us to continue that dialogue and that conversation. And the one thing I'll stress right off the bat is is two things you don't offer tools, because our perspective is no one is broken and you only go to a tool when someone is broken. But what we do offer is training, and that training helps the individuals to respond instead of react to any stressors or any retraum, and what we encourage them to understand is there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. They are simply a reflection of their experiences in their training. We spend a lot of time helping them reconcile those two and get back to a life of normalcy.

Speaker 1:

That sounds like you are doing very similar work to what I think Eric here is doing, and I know that we really push getting ahead of the ball, being proactive instead of reactive, like the fire services in particular, it's all about let's fight to fire as opposed to prevent the fire. A lot of times it's good to hear that you are having success with that program, but I think what we're. I'm going to start off with the first question. I'm sure Eric is going to follow up with many more because he's much sharper at the mental health side of it than I am in a lot of ways. But whenever a person goes through treatment, whether it be at your program or through any of the other qualified programs around the country, there is a time when the program ends and it's time to assimilate back into regular life for lack of a better term, whether it be get back on the truck, get back in the ambulance, go back home, see the wife and kids. What needs to be done to be able to do that successfully?

Speaker 3:

First and foremost is you have to develop a trust in the process that you just went through.

Speaker 3:

You have to continue to believe and trust that the experience that you just had, whether it was treatment, training or otherwise, is going to continue to work once you leave the setting, whether that be a clinical setting or, in our case, a peer led setting.

Speaker 3:

Believing in what you just experienced, first and foremost. Secondly, you really need to identify a good support group. We call it that three to five, those folks that you can go to when life is potentially going to punch you in the face or when you're returning back to normalcy and you know you're going to experience stress. You have the confidence that you can reach out to those three and five. You're going to get support. It's going to be non-judgmental, it's going to be effective, it's going to be authentic and it's going to be from the heart. Those two conditions are, I think, very important to achieve very quickly in our program so that, as folks are returning home and we actually have modules called Bringing it Home we just remind them that it's not one and done. Our program is not catch and release. We're always there to stay connected and to help, but at the end of the day, it's about trusting the process, and trusting what you just experienced is a real thing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. Those are huge points right there. I've got a couple things written down that I would like to touch on. You've already hit one of them of setting yourself up for success. When you decide to leave discharge time, whatever, you're going back home.

Speaker 2:

I had that lived experience eight weeks away from home, trying to get my mental health issues under control. One of the biggest fears that I really had was coming home to the real world. In a program like that, you get comfortable, you feel protected, you're in a cocoon Almost, you're working on yourself and, oh my gosh, I don't really have any outside stressors really bothering me while I'm here. What's it going to be like when I go home? You mentioned the support system. I can't stress that enough and I talk about it a lot when we do other podcasts, when I go and teach classes, things like that, and it's always you have to have that support when you come home. One on the family side, one on your faith-based side and then two the work family side as well. That was a huge discussion. I taught a class today and it was the support of your work environment, your work management. Do you have the support in your work environment? Is it there, and how important that truly is. Those things are extremely important in believing you mentioned the word believe Pretty much trust the process.

Speaker 2:

One of the counselors that I had been to one of the places I had been to up in Vermont we actually had Mike on with us a couple of weeks ago he says we give you the map in the compass and you're the one that's actually navigating.

Speaker 2:

You have to trust the process, that what you did learn. You went there for a reason. Be honest with you, take those skills that you learned and incorporate them back into your daily life. And I'm sure that you guys Reinforce that every single day and you get to see the transformation of people from day one to the very end when they're getting ready to go home and they might not feel comfortable, they might not feel confident in what they've learned, but you're seeing it before they actually realize it most of the time. I'm sure I know that's why it was with me. But how do you reinforce that with them that, hey, things are going to be okay? You have to trust in yourself that what you learned is going to work, but the work has to continue on your end. How do you guys incorporate that into your program?

Speaker 3:

It's a constant strategic drumbeat from the minute they walk through the door. We literally have written on the wall TTP, trust, the process. We reinforce it through a couple different exercises, and one of the most powerful one is what we call book ending, where we have them identify One of those persons that are going to be in their three to five and have them rehearse the conversation that they're going to engage when they get back, because invariably people have questions what it? Where were you? What did you do? Are you okay? So on and so forth. And so we walk them through this book ending conversation where we have them rehearse it, and we have them switch roles. Right halfway through, or at a point where the guide is starting to see A little bit of a transformation, or where you ask them to realize the other side's view on the conversation, we have them switch roles, and so that's a very powerful tool for us.

Speaker 3:

We rely heavily on modules that are very powerful and sometimes they are very metaphorical. We use archery as part of our training and then we do it for a couple reasons breathing, very simple technique to help stay grounded and concentric or congruent in the moment. Breathing we also use it to illustrate. We have them draw the bow and hold it. We give them no other instructions and you watch particularly bunch of type A personalities they'll start shaking as they try to hold that bow and then we'll just simply walk up to and say, why are you holding on to it? Just let it go, which is very powerful.

Speaker 3:

And we use a labyrinth ceremony. We go, we walk them through two labyrinth ceremonies where we draw upon the ancient Act of going into this labyrinth a person marching off to war, where the village would greet them. They would probably get a brief from the unit commander, maybe the politicians would let them know why they were going to war and then they would go off to war. The community would celebrate them as they marched off. We bring them back through the labyrinth where they leave the tools of war in the center of it. They get an opportunity to reflect on the traumas that they experienced the loss of brothers, potentially the life that they took, the horrors that they saw, sights, smells and sounds, things that definitely make your different person. And we asked them to try to metaphorically leave it in the center of that. And then we welcome them back into the community, not as a warrior or as a protector, but as just a member of that community. So the goal is to have all of those things build some resiliency.

Speaker 3:

But at the end of the day, one of the most powerful things we share with them is because of their training. They go into a situation whether it be a burning building, or whether it be a high speed chase, or whether it's an officer involved shooting, or, for guys like me, experiencing combat. We go into the situations with the light Turn fully on and what we try to teach them is that they're have in within their ability to add a dimmer switch where they can dial down their responses and their reactions to things, knowing that they could go as low as they need to stay calm, cool, collected, but confident that when the situation calls for it, they will be able to kick in the adrenaline, suppress that fight or flight and perform the way their, their peers expect them to. That's awesome.

Speaker 2:

You brought up a couple things there that I'd like to touch on articulating the process pretty much. If that individual can really articulate what they've been through the process of the strength of the fight, of the starting of the healing process and what they've been up to up through through that particular time frame, I can see where that could be a good evaluation tool, that if they can really put that into words of what the process has been like, it's starting to click and it's starting to make sense and more than likely they are on a good path for success when they go home. I really like that you guys do that, because not only do you get to see it but now you get to hear it, that they truly understand it and that they are set up for success when they go back the the archery. I know other places use fly fishing recreational activities that they do and they will incorporate fly fishing and there's certain therapeutic benefits to it focus based activity. You know you have to be very mindful what you're doing to make sure it works correctly and then and everything else.

Speaker 2:

But when you mentioned the the archery in the arrow, the first thought that went through my head was it For an arrow to make forward progress, it has to be pulled backwards first and the way that relates to the military in the first responder community, that we sometimes have setbacks or we fall backwards and whenever that happens, be like an arrow and be ready to launch, be launched forward, that it's going to happen something good is going to allow you to make forward progress and in recovery, that's very important for us, that sometimes those little stumbles that we encounter or there's little adversities that might present themselves Okay, it doesn't mean that I have to have a bad day.

Speaker 2:

It's just one little speed bump throughout my day we can overcome that and we're going to continue to move forward. So when you mentioned archery, that was the first thing that came to. Came into my head right there the resiliency. You've mentioned resiliency a couple of times now. Thoughts on resiliency were very good at it being reactive to situations, when it comes to our mental health of our military, our veterans, our first responders. Where do you rank resiliency in the process of trying to make sure that we're being more forward thinking, more proactive, instead of being reactive?

Speaker 3:

It's a concept I first heard as I was preparing for my first deployment into Iraq. Our commanding general talked to us about our resiliency over and over again, and maybe I was too young or maybe I was inexperienced and it didn't quite quite click. But if you fast forward a couple of years, where you know now I was getting my unit ready to deploy and I was the person responsible for ensuring that my soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines were resilient, I started to study a little bit more about it. The first place I went was Grossman's book on killing, where it talks about how you, over time, desensitize yourself and prepare yourself. Resiliency is it's really important, but my theory is this and I'm certainly not an expert I only have my own resiliency to reflect upon in my own traumas. I believe that we're probably we have a predetermined or set amount of shock absorbers that start to get worn down over time and just like a pencil at an SAT test the more you sharpen it over and over again, the sharper it gets, but the smaller it gets, and when you get to the end of that pencil, there's just nothing left. Trying to help victims of trauma understand that they can simply get a new pencil and Start over is something that we stress to them. We don't say it as simply as that, but my own words, that's how I describe when I'm talking with folks. Your trauma doesn't have to be the be all and and you're stuck there.

Speaker 3:

And one of the things we use is this great video. There's this really enlightened Rabbi, rabbi Abraham twersky, and he talks about how does a lobster grow a new shell? And your first you're like who cares, right. But when you listen to him, when he describes how a lobster grows a new shell, it starts by recognizing that it's Uncomfortable in its shell because it no longer fits, and then it finds a nice safe place and it comes out of that shell and it starts to grow a new shell. They continues that process over and over again. So for me that story is extremely powerful, helping us explain to our first responders and our veterans that they have it within themselves To grow that new shell, to become Little bit tougher after that trauma. But again, mindful, the fact that repeated exposure to trauma eventually is going to wear you down.

Speaker 3:

It's something we talk about. We also draw upon Victor Frankl's statement that you have two things you can control in life your attitude and your effort. And we ask them to really think about those things. When they are Confronted with trauma or stressors or things that trip them up during the day, they have within their power the control, their, their attitude, in their effort. So, again, we just we start talking about those things from day one and we reinforce them over and over again. And the way we reinforce it is through, again, practices, that we have them start and become habits. If, over those 90 days and part of that on the morning aspect, is going through Reflection, going through journaling, going through expressing gratitude, finding something, a quote that inspires you to continue to build that new shell, if you will.

Speaker 2:

That's awesome. The shell concept a lot of times we introvert and coming out of that shell is the hardest part. A lot of the times, being open, honest with what's truly going on with ourselves, that hey, I am struggling or I am having problems and showing that vulnerability, of coming out and opening up about it, is probably one of the hardest things that we can do. And you, comfort kills progress and we, we get so complacent in being in that environment of man. I've been here and I'm afraid to say anything and I'm used to where I am, even though it sucks. What am I going to do? And Comfort will kill that forward progress and we're not going to be able to overcome anything if we don't come out of that shell and that it is not the end. All be all, that there is light at the end of that tunnel and that we can overcome it and your team.

Speaker 2:

Two key points right there your attitude and how much effort you're going to put into it. You're going to get out exactly what you put in. You can't complain about poor results With minimal effort that you're putting into the process. So, having that all in attitude of I don't like the way things are and Probably just like the military as it is in the first responder community. Two things that we dislike the most. We don't like the way things are and we don't like change, yes. So what are we going to do to overcome that right? Am I going to stay miserable and unhappy the rest of my life, or am I going to try to make positive change and make things different and make things better for me, to where I have a Better quality of life than what I'm struggling through right now on my own? So I'm liking everything that you're laying down for us here, brother. This is really awesome.

Speaker 2:

Self-care let's touch on self, the self-care aspect of things. Do you guys incorporate self-care, show people how to build a self-care routine, because my self-care routine that I do on a daily basis Probably different than what you do, probably different than what Travis might be doing, what some of our other listeners do, what I do might not work for you. And Do you guys show them how to do self-care and give them different techniques and options to take home with them?

Speaker 3:

Absolutely, and we start right from the minute they walk in the door. One of the many Amazing things about what we do is we give them exposure to the power of nutrition and how nutrition can help you heal from trauma, and so the meals that we serve them are very thoughtful and they're coordinated with the modules that they're going through, and so we are very mindful of what we serve based on what we've trained them for the day. Nutrition is the first area. The second one is we talk about sleep, and for a lot of us, first responders and veterans, sleep is the enemy right. We have a hard time sleeping, whether it's because of the shift work, or whether it's because of the deployment 24-hour battle clock, or maybe we don't want to sleep because sleep brings bad nightmares, or maybe our sleep is disrupted for other reasons, whether it be traumatic brain injury or whether it be physical trauma. So we introduced the notion of sleep hygiene, and that's done on the very first day, and we talked them through and we give them some techniques and some things that we've discovered have been beneficial for us, and we don't shy away from the conversation that the be all end all for sleep doesn't have to be Pharmalogical. You can get there other ways. And then we give them some of those tools. So we teach them transcendental meditation and we ask them to commit to two 20-minute sessions a day of transcendental meditation a very powerful ability to get the distance Between your mind and your brain, and again it helps towards that resiliency. We talked to them about how do you get back into a routine of Exercising for purpose. Right, and it's something that you do not to yourself, and that's a very hard thing for first responders and veterans to embrace, because so much of our physical activity is geared towards Game day performance, and so it becomes this beat yourself into readiness. And so we introduced them to the idea that you can exercise as something you do, not something you do to yourself, and so we get them to give them tools light stretching. We introduce them to the practice of yoga. We introduced them to again staying active and lubricating your joints first thing in the morning.

Speaker 3:

So we try to really focus in on the self-care. And then we hit the mental side of it. We talked to them about reading. We talked to them about journaling, the importance of Capturing their thoughts, feelings and emotions for the day, not just for themselves but for others to understand. If they're having trouble Explaining why they're having a bad day, they have a written document that they can use to help guide the conversation. Or sometimes, like I'll just hand my journal to my wife and say, hey, this is why I'm melancholy today or this is why I'm a little bit off. So we do focus on self-care. It's extremely important.

Speaker 3:

I would tell you my own personal experience.

Speaker 3:

It was the first thing that I jettisoned in retirement from the military and it was surprising to me because you figured, after 34 years of service, it would be a habit that would not break.

Speaker 3:

And when I finally Got to the point where I had to seek help and one of the things that I'm proudest of is Now that I'm working in this space I like to share with folks that I got here because I went through this training myself I had tremendous trauma that I did not reconcile both personal and professional, and when I finally realized it was time for help, my wife just held up a mirror and said look at yourself. You, physically, are not the man that that I met and we go after. We use a wellness triangle that focuses on mind, body, spirit and finances and we talk to them about each of those domains and we help them evaluate where they're at, and then we ask them to come up with goals Measurable, quantifiable goals for each of those domains, and we just simply ask them that Today should be better than yesterday. So we give them something that is achievable and then from there we hope that they generate momentum and tempo.

Speaker 1:

You know, one of the things that was that I've heard said and I really didn't take it to heart, and this was in reference to new guys that are starting at the academy or going through rookie school the two things you need to have in order before you come to class you need to make sure your body is physically fit, you need to make sure your mind is mentally fit, because you can't make those two things up, you can't out-study that, you can't cram to make those things work. So you know, even as you go further in your journey, 10, 15 years later, those two facts never change and it's good to see that you guys are promoting take care of your mind, take care of your body, and everything else will fall into place after that.

Speaker 3:

It's a foundation upon which you have to build. And the reality is we talk about if those things are failing you, if your body and your mind are failing you, it is going to be difficult Not impossible, because nothing is impossible but it's going to be more difficult to grow that new shell, to sustain that resiliency. And so we are very quick to say let's start with some foundational thoughts and actions and create some habits of thought and habits of action that will sustain for the long term. Absolutely. I tell you, my nephew just graduated the police academy here in Dallas about a year, about a year, almost a year and a half ago, and as he was getting ready to go, while I'm not in law enforcement, he knew I had a very long career of being a professional athlete in the military. He said to me what should I do?

Speaker 3:

And I says exactly what you said Get your mind, get your body right and I added, get your spirit right. Know why you're doing it, understand you're doing it for something larger than self. You walk into the door with your mind, your body and your spirit congruent. I says you can't help but be successful and you're going to help others be successful around you. So, absolutely, we talk about that. That's something that I have always stayed attuned to throughout my professional career.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and the other thing you have to do, too, is check your ego at the door. That seems to be the other big thing, too, and just you have to be willing to accept failure as a step of progress and just, whether it be from the recovery process or learning how to do your job. You just got to check it at the door, and that'll make even more success.

Speaker 2:

There's no time stamp on the recovery process. People want to try to cheat the system. They want a simple, quick fix. Why isn't it working? Why is it taking so long? It's a process, man. It's going to take time. It's going to take effort. It's not going to be an overnight thing. You need to keep grinding at it and eventually things are going to click. You mentioned doing it for finding something bigger than yourself my recovery process.

Speaker 2:

When I separated from the fire department, the loss of identity. That was a big thing for me. I'm no longer, because I had self identified as the profession for so long and now I was no longer affiliated with the fire department. What am I going to do? I had my reasons why to keep me going every single day. Whenever I would have a bad thought or suicidal ideation or whatever else, I always had my reason why to stay alive. But the biggest thing that motivated me in my recovery after my relapse was I had to find a purpose bigger than myself to keep me motivated every day, and that's why I started my nonprofit Pay it forward make it easier for other people. And now that's truly what I live for every day is knowing that I'm doing good things.

Speaker 2:

I'm being able to sit on this podcast that other people are going to listen to, not only in the United States, but wherever they are, and hopefully we're creating a ripple for other people and we're letting them know that there is hope, and sometimes that's all that people need is to hear that there is hope and give them that one thing to look forward to Whatever people need to do to put in place to make that happen for themselves, find it. Find it. And if you can't find it on your own, do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help, because there's people just like David, there's people like Travis, there's people like me and other people that can help you with the process. You don't have to fight this alone. There is help out there and it is achievable. Keep going. That's one of my team's phrases is that we're always here for you. And keep going. You can't necessarily do it all by yourself. There's no need for you to have to do it all by yourself, but keep that hope alive and keep pushing forward.

Speaker 1:

So, david, would you do see people coming in to your program or programs near you? What do you see as being without giving away any specific cases or anything what seemed to be the most common causations for people to need to get to the point where they're going to need some help? Is it from a cumulative effect or is it like a specific incident, or what type of traumas are you dealing with?

Speaker 3:

I really think it's cumulative, and we have a module where we ask them to go back and look through their life leading up to the time where they volunteer to serve. We call it my old story, what we've discovered, and again, I think it's probably most germane to speak the example that I can speak to without violating anybody's confidence in the one that's most knowledgeable for me, is my own. I came to the Marine Corps with tremendous trauma, just didn't realize it. I think the Marine Corps recruits to it. To be quite honest, I don't think they do it from a diabolical sense or nefarious sense. I think they just draw to their ranks men and women such as myself.

Speaker 3:

I think it's most cases that I see and when I listen, it's a cumulative effect of trauma, as I said earlier on, like that pencil in the SAT test, you can only sharpen it to a point so many times and break that point before the pencil no longer can serve your purposes. And so I think, if I were to characterize most of it, it's over time, it's cumulative and it's in all shapes and forms, whether it's bullying, whether it was childhood sickness, whether it was an officer involved shooting, a car accident, personal disappointment, divorce, death in the family, you name it. The trauma runs a gamut and I just think, eventually folks get to that point, that predetermined point, where they're like I just I can't, the pack is too heavy, I'm either going to collapse or I got to drop the pack. And we encourage folks, when they start to get to that point, drop the pack and have them be comfortable and confident that there's folks that they can be trusting with.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and you know that cumulative effect. Sometimes you can't identify it back to one thing and, as you mentioned, early childhood situations can cause it, and a lot of our stressors don't necessarily come from the work we do, but it can come from exterior things that aren't even related to work, whether it be our family, our spouses, our kids, whatever and we have to learn how to process that as well and be able to roll that in and help them be part of our recovery as well.

Speaker 2:

The cumulative effect. A lot of times the cumulative effect is like a. It's a snowball effect where we take that little molehill and it turns into a mountain. And why has that happened? Because we have not addressed each individual aspect. That's now created this cumulative effect Agency department and agency problems of not debriefing, not hot washing, not sitting down and actually talking about these incidents that our members and our people have gone and responded to and we wait until people are seriously in trouble and it's man, it doesn't make a difference. We should be talking to our people. We should be encouraging them to come back and talk, maybe on the military side after the deployment, or the fire department side, ems side of man we ran a cardiac arrest or we ran a major trauma call. Let's go ahead and lay this all out right now, taking care of our people before they truly get in trouble and we don't have that massive cumulative effect.

Speaker 2:

Both of you mentioned the childhood aspect of it Unresolved childhood trauma. That is a huge component of adult trauma that we have no idea. The brain has not fully developed yet when we encountered the those traumatic events. Whatever it is and it can be something as simple as your parents splitting up or getting divorced and as a child that's very traumatic to us. I lived through that. I know a lot of other people live through that and I didn't realize until we started opening up Pandora's box of my own and we started really diving into my traumas. And let's talk about your childhood, let's talk about your family life growing up and as well yeah, I didn't realize that that was a huge problem for me. So a lot of these things can go uncovered, sometimes unspoken and not really realizing.

Speaker 2:

Anybody that's been through Any type of counseling, any type of therapy, any type of actual trauma therapy, processing. You start to truly uncover things that we thought we had settled, you know, 10, 1215 plus years ago. We're pulling things out of the closet as holy cow. How's that still bother me. It might not present itself every single day, those triggers. I despise the word trigger, but when that trigger point does come up, boom. The brain automatically has a response to it. What you guys are doing sounds absolutely amazing. To be honest with you, I would love to talk to you offline about this. One other topic I would like to touch on really briefly once people do go home and they're going back to the real world of going back to work things like that. How important is continuous after care in your eyes of talking to a therapist, maybe going to an IOP style program, building some new skill sets within yourself, and that continuous effort every single day to stay on top of the game.

Speaker 3:

I think it's the difference between success and relapse. Perhaps you've got to. You gotta find out what works for the individual. And that's what we try to do, is we try to give A menu of options and practices and skills and training that they can draw upon to tailor it to their individual situation, and at the end of the day, we leave them with two realities. One we're not catching release. So once you go through our program and you're in our tribe, we will not leave a brother or sister behind. All you have to do is throw up the bat signal and we're responding. The other pieces we ask them to continue to lean in and stay curious, stay engaged, to stay authentic to themselves and continue the treatment Wherever it takes them. And so I think that after care is essential.

Speaker 3:

And I would tell you In my own personal experience, when I start to neglect some of those practices, when I don't do my transcendental meditation twice a day, when I find that my own the morning is not as productive If my sleep is off, I really start to feel myself slide backwards.

Speaker 3:

But the good news is I just have to go to my student book or just have to go to the app, and I just have to have a conversation with somebody To remind myself of again the training I received that it is something to trust and just go after it. So I just think that Nothing in this arena can be labeled as one and done. There are no magic pills, there are no way of the wand and you're cured for the rest of your life. There's always going to be good days, bad days. Life is always going to punch you in the face One way, shape or form. It's just how you respond to that punch is what's going to define whether you have a good day or bad day. And again, our goal that we talked to is today is better than yesterday. Yeah, don't try to. Don't try to take the whole hill at one time.

Speaker 2:

Small steps. Focus on that one step that's sitting right in front of you right now. Don't worry about the finish line, will get there eventually. It's not a race.

Speaker 2:

It's funny that you mentioned when you feel, when you know that you haven't done yourself care. I was talking about that today with a paramedic class and I refer to it as a disturbance in the force, using the Star Wars reference. I had to get up a little earlier than usual this morning. I was rushed getting out the door so I neglected my own self care routine and I knew that that's what I had to do today. So I neglected my self care routine and when we got into that aspect of it of talking about it, I mentioned that that my body knows when I haven't done what I'm supposed to be doing on a daily basis. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. It's gonna. It's gonna give you those, those hints, those little clues, those subtle little things that something's not right. This is in my control right now. What do I need to do for a course correction? So it was funny when you mentioned that I did not do myself care this morning, which means I double down this evening before I start to wind my evening down when we get done and will make sure that we're right, we're gonna be able to get well rested and tomorrow is a brand new day and we're we get prepared for it.

Speaker 2:

I greatly appreciate you being on here with us tonight, david. Very valuable information, very informative information that hopefully our listeners are gonna feel the same way that I do about it. It's gonna be hard for me to wind down tonight because this, this kind of stuff, it's right in my wheelhouse that I deal with every single day and you've got me fired up this evening. So, thank you, thank you for that. Travis can tell you I'm a completely different person now than what I was 45 minutes ago. Before we got on there, I was a little stressed, I was a little frazzled and travis even asked me here are you okay? Yeah, I'm just wide open one and stretched in today. So you've got me fired up, feeling good, and I appreciate you taking your time to be here with us this evening.

Speaker 1:

So, david, if people want to get up with you they want to learn more about the eagle oak retreat and all the stuff that you guys are doing how can they get a whole time? You will have stuff in the show notes, for sure, but Tell me how they can get up with you the most efficient way.

Speaker 3:

Eagle oak retreat dot org. That is our forward facing web page. It has information about who we are, what we offer and how to get involved, either as a participant or as a supporter, and encourage folks to take a look at that. Definitely not shy about give my own personal information. So, david dot nathan sin at eagle oak retreat dot org, hit me up 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I am here to help deliver the gift that I received earlier this year and I have dedicated the rest of my life to making sure folks need who needed, they can get it, and so that's probably the easiest way our website right to our email. Again, we've tried to make the website very user friendly, very informative, but if folks have any questions, they can surely hit me up. The other area where they can go to get additional information about the science behind our program and how it came to be would be to go to boulder crest dot org.

Speaker 3:

That is the folks who have been Sponsoring warrior path for about the last 10 years and they also have a program that they're generating some momentum with across the country, and that's struggle. That's particularly so if you think warrior path is the Right of bang. The incident happened and we give you the training and the resources to deal with the trauma and struggle well is that right of bang or left of bang? Before it actually occurs. We give the training so that there may be a little bit better prepared and more resilient. So I encourage folks to look up both Warrior path, struggle well, boulder crest and if they're very ambitious and they really want to get into where we, where we get our Big thing in our funding avalan action alliance. We're part of a network that treats veterans and first responders holistically. We have the ability to get treatment for traumatic brain injury. We have the ability to get folks in treatment who are dealing with Addictions and then obviously our flagship program helps them go from post traumatic stress to a state of post traumatic growth.

Speaker 1:

We hope you'll come back and join us again at some point. Like I said, we're just trying to get the word out. I have a little bit of therapy I have to do For myself before we leave. I do have a question for you, eric.

Speaker 2:

This is not it is for me first. You know what's not there for you what?

Speaker 1:

What's written bad for your teeth is a brick yeah, you're lucky we're.

Speaker 2:

we're nowhere close where I can Sling a brick at you.

Speaker 1:

David. This makes me feel better just to see his reaction.

Speaker 3:

Thank you, that's awesome, thank you don't worry.

Speaker 1:

So you have been listening to all clear. I'm Travis, that's Eric. We had David with us and we'll talk to you soon. And, as we always say, light the fire within. You have been listening to all clear. All clear is presented by the North Carolina firefighter cancer alliance and the first responders peer support network. This program is hosted and produced by Travis McGathey and Eric Stevenson. Visit our website, all clear podcast dot com, where you can contact us and leave feedback. If you like what you hear, please share this podcast with someone. The opinions of guests do not necessarily represent the views of the podcast. This podcast is recorded with the script and with technology that is provided by Cortech computers. Will see you soon and, as always, light your fire with them. As always, light your fire with them.

Supporting First Responders and Veterans' Transition
Resilience and Self-Care for First Responders
Finding Purpose in Helping Others
The Cumulative Effects of Trauma
The Importance of Continuous Aftercare
All Clear