Suicide, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, and many more emotional and stress-related problems plague the first-responder community. Hundreds of thousands of these brave public servants have unwittingly become victims of the professions they once loved. However, the suffering that results from a professional life of sacrifice and service can be prevented and mitigated.
As a thirty-year law-enforcement veteran, retired police captain, and police academy instructor, Dan Willis has witnessed the damage of emotional trauma and has made it his personal mission to safeguard and enhance the wellness and wholeness of police officers, firefighters, EMTs, emergency-room personnel, and soldiers. Bulletproof Spirit offers field-tested expertise designed to be used by all first responders — and their families — to heal themselves and continue serving with compassion and strength.
“Captain Willis spent 25 years as a police officer in La Mesa, CA. He and his colleagues suffered along with their victims, witnessed senseless violence, and gradually slipped into the hole of misery and defeatism. Willis offers this manual to help first responders maintain emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual fitness in order to take care of themselves, their loved ones, and the people they serve. He relates real-life stories along with strategies for such things as overcoming hypervigilance, cultivating relationships outside of the workplace, and creating a specific program geared toward wellness, rather than mere survival. Verdict: An excellent guidebook for first responders of all professions, their peers, and their families.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“An excellent, lifesaving book. The tragic psychological impact of traumatic events can be avoided and prevented, and this book is a powerful and effective illumination of these vital methodologies.” — Dave Grossman, US Army Lt. Col. (retired), author of On Combat and On Killing
“Essential knowledge not only for all emergency first responders but also for families and those who support these brave individuals who protect and defend us every day.” — Nick Popaditch, author of Once a Marine
“Having suffered from post-traumatic stress as a police officer, I know what can happen when we are exposed to unthinkable traumas. This book and the wellness strategies it describes have helped to save my life.” — police officer, Davenport, Iowa
“In my twenty-five years as an officer and now part of command staff, this book and the training offered by Captain Willis are the most meaningful and useful I have ever experienced.” — police captain, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
“Clear, compassionate, and to the point, this guidebook is an excellent resource for the newest academy graduate and for the longtime veteran. . . . Captain Willis conveys the importance of health, wellness, and departmental support, and he openly explains the hazards of the job and how to maintain career peak performance. This book is now a first choice for all the emergency first responders I work with.” — Sara Gilman, MFT, psychotherapist and president, Coherence Associates, Inc.
“Any police professional with a serious commitment to understanding and mitigating the professional and personal stresses of a police career knows well the names Violanti, Kirschman, Gilmartin, and Grossman. The name of Captain Dan Willis can now be added to this respected list of leaders in police-officer health and wellness. In Bulletproof Spirit, Captain Willis successfully combines aspects of science, spirituality, and his personal experience to provide pragmatic approaches for individual officers and police organizations to maximize their health and longevity in their police careers. If you are a police officer facing the challenges of stress in your life and career (and all officers are), Bulletproof Spirit is an important and useful read.” — Michael J. Asken, PhD, police performance psychologist, author of MindSighting: Mental Toughness Skills for Police Officers in High Stress Situations “Written from the heart (and from the trenches), the book is direct, passionate, and insightful. Willis discusses the role of faith in service, peer and family support, the basics of wellness protocols, and treating stress disorders.” — Anna Jedrziewski, Retailing Insight “After over thirty years in law enforcement, I have witnessed far too many times the emotional damage a career as a first responder can have. Bulletproof Spirit details practical steps that are not only effective but essential to help protect and ensure the wellness of those who serve. This book is a must-read for all first responders and their families — the wellness and emotional survival of these heroes depends upon it, as well as the safety of our communities.” — Shelley Zimmerman, Chief of Police (ret.), San Diego Police Department
“This is not just a report from a top-notch expert on psychology, or a well-done how-to book by a more-than-competent writer, or even a thoughtful motivational book that will undoubtedly bring you new spiritual inspiration. It is actually all three of these books between two covers, written by a police captain who has earned his credibility in the day-to-day work of being a law-enforcement officer and first responder for many years — a man who has worked the streets and also managed from the top down. . . . The book tells you why you might be traumatized by any number of criminal or emergency situations, and it offers case studies of events that would be hard to live with in the minds of even the strongest personalities. And then it brings suggestions, guidelines, and resolutions to help us live with the problems, crises, and destructions which we see every day in the lives of others. Trauma intervention is a term we have all come to know, and Dan Willis convinces us why we should take that term seriously, instructing us on how to bring peace to ourselves and our families after living through chaos.” — Dennis Smith, author of Report from Ground Zero “If there was ever a time in history when we needed the answers to address critical emotional-survival issues of our emergency first responders, it is now! Issues of saving marriages, careers, and lives within our emergency-first-responder professions are everyone’s responsibility within our ranks. A great first step would be to read and immediately put into practice Captain Dan Willis’s recommendations in Bulletproof Spirit.” — Robert Douglas Jr., executive director (ret.), National Police Suicide Foundation
“Captain Willis has written a practical, extremely useful, and important guide for first responders everywhere. Bulletproof Spirit is a vital resource for every first responder, caregiver, and agency manager. This book offers the essential keys for preparation for, protection from, and healing after trauma for all those devoted to public safety.” — Catherine Butler, PhD, EdD, MFT, psychologist to emergency first responders
“As I read Bulletproof Spirit, I found it difficult to put down. Captain Willis presents the truth that ‘it’s all right for the helper to ask for help’ in a manner that proves to be thought-provoking and highly informative. He utilizes real-life stories from the warriors who have walked through the valley. His work emphasizes the significance of wellness encompassing the mind, body, and spirit, and he reminds us that it is vital not only to nurture but to be nurtured as well. Be prepared to honestly look at yourself in the mirror and determine if you possess a ‘bulletproof soul.’” — Bobby Smith, PhD, former Louisiana State Trooper and author of Visions of Courage and The Will to Survive “First responders typically do not understand the potentially devastating extent of the impact their chosen professions can have upon their minds, bodies, spirits, health, and families. Bulletproof Spirit provides an essential and practical guide for all those who enable them to live and serve in health and wellness.” — Nancy Bohl-Penrod, PhD, founder of the Counseling Team International and expert on first-responder trauma
“Bulletproof Spirit exposes the silent dangers, and sometimes killers, of many of our first-responder heroes in a dynamic and compassionate way. . . . Read this book and think about the good people who wear the badge and the terribly inhumane things they experience. Bulletproof Spirit will help heal first responders and help them find purpose and happiness once again. It is an honor to endorse this book. It will save lives.” — Clarke Paris, Las Vegas Metro police sergeant (ret.), author of My Life for Your Life, president of The Pain Behind the Badge Training LLC
“This book would be a valuable asset to any first responder, clinician, or peer-support person working with first responders.” — Kevin Gilmartin, PhD, author of Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement