Category Archives: Thanksgiving

Distribution: Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS and Dispatch personnel – Thanksgiving 2016

As always, I want to give another thank you to all who forward this message to your departments and staff. You trust me enough to share my message to others, and I strive to not make you regret that decision.

To all reading this message: For many of us it has been a long year. And in spite of everything going on, you still get up and do a job that is under-appreciated and in some cases ignored. Like I said in my last note, sometimes encouragement is in short supply. I am one of many hoping to change that and make things better for all of us. Thanks for spending a few moments with me, and Happy Thanksgiving!

In this email I want to address a comment I’ve received on more than one occasion. Some people reading this may not feel that they are the heroes that I reference in my ending line. A lot of public safety personnel have the same struggle with being called a “hero”. This is how Doc sees it.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines hero as:

1. In mythology and legend, a man, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods.
2. A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life
3. A person noted for special achievement in a particular field: the heroes of medicine. See Synonyms at celebrity.
4. The principal character in a novel, poem, or dramatic presentation.
5. See submarine sandwich.

We can safely discard 1, 4 and 5 since I’m not talking mythology or food. However, I (and a lot of others I might add) see thinks like running into a burning building to check for survivors, going inside buildings to fight a fire that might easily collapse on you, taking on an active shooter, etc. falls into “feats of courage or nobility of purpose” in my book. I think the problem is that we think of “hero” as one who has a cape, some sort of super power or does something that is non-human. And that just isn’t true.  We look at people like the NYPD, FDNY or other high-profile instances who gave their lives say “They are heroes, but not me”. And without taking anything away from those brave people, the only thing that separates your department from theirs is 2 things: location and opportunity. And if “push came to shove” in your community or a community close to you, it would be you that would be pushing up the stairs into the fire, pushing into a school to get a shooter, or pushing through a disaster area hoping to save at least one more life in the rubble.

I had my hometown Sheriff’s Office and Volunteer Fire Department downplay themselves to me at one point. It was just a “job” for them. Until March 2, 2012 when I (and lots of others) saw them make tremendous sacrifices and go to such great lengths to rescue folks after the Kentucky Tornado outbreak. They still may not like the term “hero”, but what they did was nothing short of heroic. And in my mind, what I witnessed first hand was legendary.

Ronald Reagan once said “Those who say we live in a time where there are no heroes just don’t know where to look” and I think he is right. So maybe instead of looking to others, it’s our turn to stand up, accept the mantle, and be the heroes of our stories.

Finally, as we approach “the holidays”, we all know that the holidays can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. If you find yourself struggling in this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, other supervisors, clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, or send an email. Reach out if you need to. Life is a battle best fought with others.

In closing, as always, thank you so much for who you are, and all you do. I’ve said it before and will say it again: You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

Distribution: Please distribute to all Police, Fire, Dispatch and EMS personnel – Happy Thanksgiving 2015

As always, I want to say thank you to everyone who has made it possible for me to distribute this message. I cannot express my gratitude enough for your assistance. I also want to thank you, the reader. You’re busy and the fact that you are taking a few minutes to hear what I have to say is humbling. I hope you walk away a better or happier person because of it.

During the month of November, lots of people go to social media to daily list something they are thankful for. There are the usual staples of spouse, kids, parents, other family members, friends, their church, etc. The kind of gratitude that warms your heart, puts a “spring in your step”, and just makes you feel good. There are others I have seen, however that are shall we say, unconventional.

– That I’m not a turkey.
– Indoor toilets.
– McKayla Maroney’s “not impressed” face.
– That I “have” to work the day after Thanksgiving, so no shopping for me!
– Facebook . . . because with it, I have visual proof that my friends are eating well.
– I am thankful my kids are finally at an age where they’ll watch my shows with me, instead of making me watch their shows with them. I’m pretty sure Disney XD was causing my brain to atrophy.
– Any day my spouse doesn’t have a saved segment of Dr. Phil backing them up on something.
– I am thankful that I don’t look anything like the portraits my kids draw of me.

Any counselor, pastor, or 12 step program will tell you that being thankful is a key to living a happy life. We all tend to look at the things we don’t have or that we wish we didn’t have, and I’m just as guilty as anyone. Sometimes just listing the things you are thankful for will improve (even drastically improve) your attitude and you moods. So what are you thankful for? What makes you smile when you think about it? I encourage you to take the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas and do some “homework”:
– Write out a list of things you are thankful for, no matter how big or small.
Things like pets, places, food, and hobbies. My list includes the Red River Gorge, Ale-8 (a Kentucky soft drink), and the Florida Marlins. It doesn’t have to be big things.
– Write down a list of people that you are glad you know and have made contributions to your life.
– Write down a list of surprises that made you happy (Finding $10 in the parking lot, someone buying my lunch, surprise birthday party, etc.)

And then once you have your list, see if you can add anything regularly. Consciously LOOK for things to be happy for and see if you don’t feel better.

Finally, as we approach “the holidays”, we all know that the holidays can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. If you find yourself struggling in this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, other supervisors, clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, or send an email. Reach out if you need to. Life is a battle best fought with others.
I’ve said it in every email, and every chance I get. I’ve said it to the chiefs and administrators when I contact them. I’ve said it to you on the parks and restaurants. You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

Distribution: Please distribute to all law enforcement personnel – Thanksgiving 2014

As always, I want to say thank you to everyone who has made it possible for me to distribute this message. I cannot express my gratitude enough for your assistance. I also want to thank you, the reader. You don’t have to read my notes, but you do. Because of that, I hope you walk away a better or happier person because of it.

For some of us, it has been a rough year. It’s been a year of the media frenzies. We have added pressure to get the support of the public more than before, all that on top of our regular training and our jobs. I can be tiring, and if we let it, it will kill our satisfaction with our careers and the jobs that we do. It can turn us into bitter people…if we let it.

I know holidays are stressful times for us. Everyone running around, running to the store, running to get this or that. Schedules can make that even worse. We may celebrate Thanksgiving on Friday with our family because we have to work all day on Thursday. Maybe we get off in time, but because of “the job” we don’t feel like being thankful for anything. Most of us have heard the Nietzsche quote “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” You fight with monsters. It may be monsters of crime, destructive natural events, fire, and death. It’s a fight that you wage every day. You slow people down because “Speed kills”. You tireless work to get the message out to “change your batteries when you change your clock”. You are constantly working against the “golden hour”. So what do we do to break the cycle? What do we do to shield ourselves from the “abyss” and fight back our inner monsters? Here are some tips that I’ve come up with and some that others have given me:

1) Don’t take work home with you. Most of us have things that we do so we don’t “bring the job home”. But what if we have to work Thanksgiving? I’ve had spouses tell me that they celebrate the next whole day that their officer is off. So whatever day you are off, be off. Set it aside for you and your families.
2) Do something unexpected for someone. I know that you give A LOT on your jobs, so asking for more may seem too much. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, and they don’t even have to know. You can leave a card in someone’s box. You can leave a gift certificate to someone that needs help. You can invite a friend over for dinner who doesn’t have anywhere to go. I always feel happier when I do something for someone else.
3) Make a list of things you have to be thankful for. We see it on social media during this time of year. But you don’t have to do it that way. Write down a list and look at it every day. Add stuff along the way.
4) Watch a cartoon. Seriously. I’m going to watch “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” with my family.
5) Do something crazy or fun that you normally wouldn’t do. One year one of our officers wore a Santa hat to work on Christmas. I personally thought that was great.
6) Take some time to find your family history. This may take some time, but it will be worth it. You can find out all kinds of things online.

Finally, as we approach “the holidays”, I usually advise that the holidays can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. If you find yourself struggling in this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, other supervisors, clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, or send an email. Reach out if you need to. Life is a battle best fought with others.

I’ve said it in every email, and every chance I get. I’ve said it to the chiefs and administrators when I contact them. I’ve said it to you on the parks and restaurants. You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

Please distribute to all Police, Fire, and EMS personnel – Happy Thanksgiving

First, I again want to say thank you to all the Chiefs, Sheriffs, Officers, Administrators and fellow Chaplains who have made it possible for me to distribute this message.

I hope you find this email helpful and encouraging. This email marks five years that I have been sending out these emails on the holidays. So whether this is your first time reading, or you’ve been on board since the beginning, welcome. I’d like to take this time to reflect on some of the things I’m thankful for at this time.

I will say that this has been a life-changing experience for me. In the last five years, you have taught me more about life (and even myself) than I thought possible. This all started by just wanting to say “Thanks” to a group of local folks who I thought were under-appreciated. And over time, that “mission” has evolved and broadened, and broadening me with it. For that, I say Thank you.

I say “Thank you” for picking up some meals. Thank you for inviting me into your homes. Thank you for opening up and telling me what you really thought about the job (It’s hard, you don’t like the hours, you are lonely on the holidays.) Thank you for not sheltering me from the bad, from the disasters, from the politics, and from the things that make your job so difficult. Thank you for telling me that is OK to feel anger at the kidnapping suspect, for saying it’s OK to vent with you later. Thank you for also telling me that a death notification is very hard, emotional, and draining and it’s OK to go outside “for some air”. Thank you for showing me you are human. That you get angry, hurt or depressed. Thank you for allowing me to see your emotions at the funeral. And for those who knew when my wife was in the hospital, and for sending the cards, thoughts, calls and prayers.

For those of you whom I have never met “in person”, you have not been any less appreciated and impactful. Thank you for showing me that even in your department’s worst times, you take the time to drop a nice email or call me. Thank you for trusting someone (whom you may never meet) enough to read and pass along my notes. Thank you for giving me insight into what it’s like policing in Alaska, or working a fire crew in Maui.

Thank you I can now understand better what you feel, and as a chaplain, that’s what helps me be able to help you. And last but not least, thank you for showing me that the “Thin Blue Line”, “Thin Red Line” and the “Thin White line” are not just images or ideas. They are a reality and a symbol of what is good in the world.

Finally, as we approach “the holidays”, I usually advise that the holidays can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. If you find yourself struggling in this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, other supervisors, clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, or send an email. Reach out if you need to. Life is a battle best fought with others.

I’ve said it in every email, and every chance I get. I’ve said it to the chiefs and administrators when I contact them. I’ve said it to you on the parks and restaurants. You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

Please distribute to all Police, Paramedic and Fire personnel – Happy Thanksgiving

First, I again want to say thank you to all the Chiefs, Sheriffs, Officers, Administrators and fellow Chaplains who have made it possible for me to distribute this message.

I have noticed that sometimes in life, the lessons we are best able to teach can be those we have learned ourselves. So since we are coming up to Thanksgiving, I’m going to briefly talk about cynicism.

How do we reconcile when recent studies show that cynicism releases chemicals in your blood that is bad for your heart with what we are told in training? We’ve all been told “Always plan for the worst in any traffic stop”. “Prepare for the worst in every house fire.” But is there a difference in preparing and training for the worst, and being cynical? I think there is a fine line, and we can prepare for it, but not fall victim to it’s danger. When we get in the car, we put our seat belts on. When we initiate a traffic stop, we can keep our hands on our gun. We never turn our backs on anyone or anything. We pause before going through a light when we are running code. We do this because we are trained to and it’s good practice.

I think the line is where and when cynicism occurs. We have to be “on guard” to not let this affect other areas of our lives. Does our work-mindset carry over into our personal lives? From time to time, all of us are “over the top” at some point with friends, co-workers or our families, and I’m no exception. I felt the need to send the following email to my co-workers.


“Sometimes we all get to a place in life when we find it easier to surrender to cynicism than to resist it. Sometimes we surrender for various reasons. Money issues may be wearing on us. Sickness (or extended sickness) in our families. Family issues may be wearing on us. And, as much as we like to think we can (or at least try) , we can not flip a switch to isolate parts of our lives from the other.

We allow ourselves to be grumpy, short with others, and sometimes hateful. We justify our thoughts to ourselves, then when it becomes actions we justify it to others. And we allow ourselves to continue down that slope. We allow others to feed into it, and even worse we feed into others. It’s easy to float downstream, and hey, everyone is doing it. We make judgments based on what we think we know, and it turns out we might not have had all the facts.

I’ve been in a couple of conversations in the last few days that have pointed this out. Jaded and cynical does not match my Hawaiian shirts very well. A friend once asked me a question that I taped to my monitor (because I knew I’d forget it). When we were having a “gripe session” Todd said , “Well you should ask yourselves a question…’How can I make this better’ and then prepare to live by it.”

I said all that to say this… in the better or bitter battle that we all fight in our own souls, I have allowed myself to become a little more bitter. And that has affected some of you. And for that I am sorry.”

It’s been said that “revenge is a dish best served cold”, but I’ve found that crow is not good regardless of how it’s prepared. But even the best of us have to “eat crow” and admit we are wrong from time to time. I’m passing this along to you, my readers, in hopes that you will learn from my mistakes, and not your own.

So, stand up and make a difference. Do what it takes to be safe on the job. Train, study, take classes, stay alert. But I also ask that you talk to someone if you find yourself struggling. If you find you can never relax, or trust people, find someone to talk to. As I generally note during the holidays, the holidays can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. If you find yourself struggling in this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, other supervisors, clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, or send an email. Reach out if you need to.

I’ve said it in every email, and every chance I get. I’ve said it to the chiefs and administrators when I contact them. I’ve said it to you on the parks and restaurants. You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

Please distribute to all Police, Paramedic and Fire personnel – Happy Thanksgiving

First, I again want to say thank you to all the Chiefs, Sheriffs, Officers and Administrators who have made it possible for me to distribute this message.

This marks the third year that I have been reaching out to you on the holidays. It’s my hope that you have been encouraged, helped, or supported in some way with these notes. For those of you just hearing from me for the first time, welcome. Last year I talked about adversity, but this year I want to talk about something a little less serious. Actually, a LOT less serious. Humor and joy.

I know that you work in a serious job, and quite literally, can be a “matter of life and death” at times. Some of you have seen some of the worst that life has to offer. I’ve heard or read some of the stories. I have a policy that I never ask. But I’ve been told some of them, and I just want to say that I would never want to make light of that.

During some of my reading I’ve came across this as a theme. From Bad days to PTSD, the experts say that one of the keys is keeping a sense of humor. A sense of humor is actually good for us.

Growing up in Eastern Kentucky, I remember watching the news and the Brad James weather forecast. If Brad said it, it was so. If he said it would rain, I was looking for the umbrella. He was also known to pull off a prank or two. He did an annual April Fool’s Day joke, one of which he told viewers of his trip to “The Thousand Islands”, home of the “famous salad dressing”.

I’m sure we all know someone like that, and likely we have been on the receiving end of a prank or two. But how does that help us? Studies show us a few things about humor:

1. Humor can portray a message is understandable ways that nothing else can.
2. Humor can decrease the feelings of rage and anger in those around us.
3. Humor is memorable. How many movie lines can you quote that made you laugh sometime?
4. Humor can be an “ice-breaker” in tense or unfamiliar situations.

There are numerous others that we could list. What better time to have such a tool than the holidays, a season that can be stressful or painful? But you could help improve it for you and others around you. So give it a try.

As I’ve noted before, the holidays can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. If you find yourself struggling in this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, other supervisors, clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, or send an email. Reach out if you need to.

I’ve said it in every email, and every chance I get. I’ve said it to the chiefs and administrators when I contact them. I’ve said it to you on the parks and restaurants. You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

Please distribute to all Police, Paramedic and Fire personnel – Happy Thanksgiving

Thank you again for allowing me the opportunity to speak with you.

Thanksgiving 2010 will soon be here. Another year is soon coming to a close. I just want to talk a little about adversity. I can almost hear you ask, “Why would we hear about adversity on Thanksgiving?” For starters, if you’re reading this note, you have survived. People and circumstances threw their best at you and you came out on top. You might have received some bumps and bruises along the way, but your here. And you get to fight another day. That bullet meant for you missed its target. That building should have collapsed but didn’t. All the things that could have gone wrong didn’t. Adversity evokes dormant potential within us that could not be awakened otherwise. And if this statement is true for anyone, it’s true for you. Rushing INTO burning buildings. Maintaining composure to return fire when fired upon. Having to talk to relatives after a horrible accident. I’m amazed not only by what you do on a regular basis, but the strength, composure and dedication with which you do it.

There are battles you fight in your individual lives that might make the job pale in comparison. Sometimes “off-duty” things can be just as hard (or harder) to deal with. Departments and communities coming together after a tornado. One officer in my area is fighting cancer, but has been surrounded with love and support from everyone.

It’s been said that no man is an island. Sometimes we forget the impact that our lives have on others. During the holiday season, it can be easy to be discouraged. But every one of us has touched lives that we may never know about. You HAVE made a difference for people.

As I end this note, I’d like to encourage you: Take time to see the difference you have made. Life, with all its ups and downs, is something to be enjoyed and appreciated. And if you have a rough time, your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, supervisors, clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can.

I’ve said it in every email, and every chance I get. I’ve said it to the chiefs and administrators when I contact them. I’ve said it to you on the streets and stores. You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.