Episode 177 Tom Spooner Why You are Not Alone, should Seek Help & Choose Life
This transcript is from episode 177 with guest Tom Spooner.
Scott DeLuzio 00:00:00 Thanks for tuning into the Drive On Podcast, where we’re focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. Now let’s get on with the show. Hey, everyone, welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today, my guest is Tom Spooner. Tom is an army veteran who served nearly 21 years, which included time as a Green Beret and a Delta Force operator. Since retiring from the military, he has successfully enabled thousands of warriors to acknowledge their struggles, seek treatment, and understand that they’re not alone, which is something that we like to do here on this podcast is remind people that they’re not alone in what they’re going through. He dedicated his life to healing fellow warriors and started Warrior’s Heart as the first private addiction treatment center in the US that is exclusively for the military veterans and first responders. Welcome to the show, Tom. I’m glad to have you here.
Tom Spooner 00:01:08 Thank you, Scott. Thanks for having me. I’m looking forward to being on the show.
Scott DeLuzio 00:01:12 Yeah, absolutely. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background and a little bit of who you are for people who may not know anything about you?
Tom Spooner 00:01:22 Okay. I’ll give the general once-over and then we can dive into whatever. I’m originally from south Florida and came into the military whenever I was 20 years old. I spent five years in the 82nd and the first 504th from 90 to 95. I was in the Gulf War as soon as I entered the service. From 90 to 95, I was in the 82nd 96 to 2001. I was in seven special forces groups as an 18 Charlie explosive engineer guy, pre nine 11. I worked in Central and South America. Then from 2001 to 2011, I was out at Delta as an operator, had 12 deployments, 40 total months time in combat, retired in 2011, had 20 years, 10 months, 29 days, but who was counting?
Tom Spooner 00:02:23 I ended up getting a med boarded out. I retired. Whenever I got out from 2011, till about 2015. I did a lot of work with them. They wouldn’t want to learn anything new. I just did the pistol car being CQB sniper route with law enforcement. Predominantly some military units. In 2015 at the end of 2015, we acquired the property for Warrior’s Heart. From April of 2016, that’s where I spend most of my time, as a worker at Warrior’s heart. I have been married for 32 years this year and I have two sons.
Scott DeLuzio 00:03:17 Yeah, awesome. I want to dive into a Warrior’s Heart and what it’s all about and why you decided to start that.
Tom Spooner 00:03:27 It’s a healing center for active duty veterans, law enforcement, and first responders. It’s a 42-day inpatient treatment facility. Primary diagnosis is chemical dependencies, and then all the co-occurring conditions from PTs to moral grief and injury to mild traumatic brain injury. It’s on a 540-acre ranch in Bandera, Texas, which is about an hour Northwest of San Antonio. We’d been open since April of 2016 and to date, we’ve had almost 1700 warriors come through.
Scott DeLuzio 00:04:14 What prompted you to start Warrior’s Heart?
Tom Spooner 00:04:18 Well, that’s a longer story.
Tom Spooner 00:04:23 Whenever I came into the military, I struggled with alcoholism at a young age and my first couple of years in the military. It was just the grace of God that I didn’t get in trouble. I was a high-performing, high functioning, hard drinker alcoholic. That was my thing. I got sober in 92, with a 12 step program with AA. Once I got sober, I continued that. I enjoyed number one, being relieved from all that. I felt pretty hopeless and all that at that time. I got sober on Fort Bragg. It was with fellow soldiers and military members and civilians also.
Tom Spooner 00:05:18 That kind of set the tone for me as far as 90 September 2nd and 92 is when I got sober. I continued to do that throughout my whole career. That’s the one piece of Warrior’s Heart as far as subject matter expertise. I definitely am not saying I’ve seen it all for sure. I’ve seen a lot in 29 years, so kind of really comfortable. A big part was recovery from chemical dependencies. Then for me, also by the time I ended up getting out, I was pretty significant in 2006, had an undiagnosed, a traumatic brain injury, eight, a mortar round, probably about 20 yards away. I didn’t know it, everybody, back in that timeframe. I knew it had been blown up, so it wasn’t anything special. I can tell you what my life was like up until that moment.
Tom Spooner 00:06:22 I can tell you what my life has been after that moment. I had an undiagnosed, traumatic brain injury, and then being on the job and all the deployments and stuff I had accumulated. I like to say earned a good amount of post-traumatic stress for the job and so whenever it came time in 2010. I had to decide whether I was gonna stay in or retire, and I was like, well, I wasn’t a kid anymore. A bunch of other injuries along with all that other stuff. So I couldn’t wear it. It was a good run and we’ll go ahead and get out.
Tom Spooner 00:07:08 I started getting all my physicals and everything, and then that’s when it discovered that wow, I had a significant traumatic brain entry. I was operating at 50% processing speed, my words, and then 50% of, verbal memory. I was in a really rough spot. The only reason why I even had a chance and not taking my own life was, I didn’t have the chemical dependency struggle, because usually, it’s that trifecta or combo of it. Between self-medication, traumatic brain injury, PTs. So I just had the two. I already had a lot of good training under my belt for the emotional tools, mental tools and so I needed some help.
Tom Spooner 00:08:07 I was getting out some of it. It was just the perfect time for me, I went to cognitive therapy, vestibular therapy, psychological therapy, I even had to get on a light dose of meds for about eight months because I had a little chemical imbalance going on. I got better. The thing is, with all that treatment and everything after about four months of really getting after it, I started getting a little bit better and I just couldn’t imagine. I had a really good reputation and came from a really known unit. I had a lot of people trying to help me out along the way. I was still struggling big time.
Tom Spooner 00:08:55 I couldn’t imagine what’s happening to that PFC. They got blown up on his first deployment then got medically discharged. What happens to that guy with no help? Well, they ended up taking their own lives. It was 22 a day, or 2022 pick a number in between, the veteran suicide. So I needed a new mission and a new purpose. Whenever I got out of the military. We had talked about before, I’m an NCO who understands mission and health and welfare, the troops. I didn’t want anybody to suffer the way that I had suffered and I didn’t want anybody to not have the availability and options, seeking whatever kind of treatment that they need, or treatment.
Tom Spooner 00:09:55 In 2013 the guy that would become my partner, Josh Lannon. We were putting on a three-day event for him. A lot of pistols, a lot of cars being a little watered-down version, CQB, little missions, it was really good. It was really good training. When I met Josh he didn’t serve in the military, wasn’t in law enforcement, but he’d been sober a good many years. And he was running at that time six treatment facilities in between Utah and Arizona, So, we met him during that time, summer of ‘13. And he was like, Hey, this is what I was wanting to do. Then I was kinda into that. So we started a relationship together. We started the planning and all of that endeavor. But that was kind of the Genesis of it. We ended up acquiring the property in 2015 and then got licensed in 16.
Scott DeLuzio 00:11:26 There’s your personal struggle that you had gone through. The early days with your alcohol and then later on with your struggles with the TBI, the PTS, and everything that you had that culminated over that point. All that stuff just piled on. That story is not unusual when people deploy, especially multiple times, they’re more likely just more likely to wind up with these injuries. Whether they’re mental or physical injuries. There’s also those PFCs who are on their first deployment and they get blown up and then they get medically discharged and who’s there for them? What are they going to do at that point? So it makes a whole lot of sense that there would be something like this around for these people. I’m glad that something positive came of it and it didn’t just wind up being one of these things where you’re wallowing in your own misery.
Tom Spooner 00:12:43 I had some days of that, but the thing that pulled me out of it, and I think it’s everybody that I know this story. That has kind of hit a bottom kinda, really not doing well. Another warrior, a man that I served with, he just wouldn’t let me go. I was always honest with him. He’s my best friend. I talked to him about everything and he said, man, you’re all screwed up. You need to go get some help. Everybody I know is like me. He’s said well, that doesn’t matter. I’m talking about you. When it was all out of love.
Tom Spooner 00:13:22 He didn’t want to see me go down the road that we’ve seen so many go down. Whether it was family members, friends, or fellow warriors. That’s usually the catalyst, kind of a boot in your ass. I had a great support network. I had a great family. I had all of these things that would set me up for success, but I had a lot of damage. Ideally is the VA that picks up where it left off and you’ll never hear me talking bad about the VA.
Tom Spooner 00:14:14 There’s a ton of just incredible human beings trying to do the right thing and help guys out there. But the system’s completely overwhelmed, depending on the location. If you’re in a place where the veteran population is kind of low, you have some of the best health care that you’re around. If you’re in an area where it’s well-populated, then it’s just an overwhelmed system. That’s when it comes to the Warrior Heart. It wasn’t like a better widget or, Hey, how can we tweak something and make it better if it occupies a place that didn’t exist? Because if what we were doing was working, then we wouldn’t have the veterans’ suicide rate that we do or the suicide rate and law enforcement and first responders.
Tom Spooner 00:15:05 We talk a lot about suicide. It’s obviously so prevailing. The thing is though with our community, most folks if they want to take their own lives, they just do it. It’s usually the story is something, well, I knew they were doing bad, but I didn’t think it was that bad or wow, I didn’t really see it coming. How do you get ahead of that? It was just in my observation of all the years, the majority of the folks that I know that when they did do the final act and saved their life. They were on something. Whether it was alcohol, prescription drugs, illicit drugs, they were self-medicating all the way up until that point.
Tom Spooner 00:15:59 So, if we can get ahead of it, what with that self-medication piece, then potentially we won’t get down the road. That was the thought process going into it and really kind of the why of hitting the self-medication. It was what my wheelhouse was. I have personal experience with that. That’s the biggest thing that I was trying to talk about. Anyway, there was just this big gap of who is helping these folks out because everything is so siloed off, Hey, go here for your PTs, but don’t talk about those chemicals. I know you’re coming in drunk.
Tom Spooner 00:16:48 If you’re going for chemical dependency, therapy, and counseling and stuff, they’re saying “Hey, don’t bring that war stuff”. Is it the chicken or the egg? Is it that traumatic unprocessed trauma that makes me self-medicate or is it the self-medication that brings up the unprocessed trauma. Well, who cares? We have to treat them both. I’m a whole person. I need to treat both. That’s what we do as warriors. Don’t we have behavioral health folks who are dual diagnosis? They call it and then we also have the chemical dependency counselors because you can’t hit one without the other, and that’s what we do differently out there. Because that was a lot of struggles for me, current brain damage going on, trying to figure out what to do next. My executive functioning is the part that’s messed up. There’s an issue with that.
Scott DeLuzio 00:17:49 But, it sounds like being more proactive versus reactive is what’s making a difference in these people’s lives. By trying to get to the root of the problem as opposed to waiting until it’s too late. Now, we’re reacting to this situation, but there’s nothing left to react to right after they’ve taken their lives there. There’s nothing left to react to. So you kind of have to do something about the problem beforehand. That sounds like what you’re doing is being proactive about it.
Tom Spooner 00:18:25 I had to, and everyone has to define it. Because we always talk about in the military, as having purpose, task, and purpose, that’s just drilled into us. Once I had left the military I didn’t have that context. That was the beauty of the military. You didn’t have to think about anything. I knew what I was going to wear. I knew what time I needed to be. I didn’t have to do much thinking. Then once all that was removed, it was like, man, what now? Why am I getting up? Why do I need to be motivated?
Tom Spooner 00:19:07 I had to define a new purpose and for me a new team. I’m out of the military now. Number one on my team list. Because they were always there. But now they’ve bumped into my family. I’m not really good at taking care of myself. I’m not going to let you down. So this is the big trick for me, is that I know I want to be there for you. In order for me to be there for you, I have to do the things that I need to do so that I can be available. That was for me just defining that purpose. I’m going to get better and I’m going to help other guys, the simple version of it is, “I’m going to do whatever I need to do to get better, whatever kind of treatments, whatever kind of school straining, whatever’s out there, I’m going to get after it.” Same way I did in the military. I’m going to try to help that next man along, and that became my purpose. I chose that to be my purpose.
Scott DeLuzio 00:20:14 That’s kind of like the saying that they have when you get on an airplane and they talk about the oxygen masks that come down, put your mask on first before helping out others. If you’re passed out because you’ve been putting your mask on, you’re not going to be of any use to the people around you. So you have to take care of yourself first in order to help out other people. I love that analogy. I’ve used that before in the past. It makes a lot of sense with regards to your own mental health, especially as a spouse, a father or a mother, or just a friend, a coworker, or whatever. If you are not able to hold up your end of the bargain of whatever relationship you’re in and you’re not really going to be a whole lot of use to that other person. You kind of have to take care of yourself and it’s not a selfish thing to do. I’ve heard some people say, that feels selfish. To take care of myself and not take care of my family, but in order to take care of your family, you gotta be able to take care of yourself first. So, you gotta prioritize those things and take care of yourself so that you can take care of your family.
Tom Spooner 00:21:26 Just like you were saying, it was a learned skill for me though. Because when I initially started doing that, it felt like I was being selfish. But, I need to take this time. Do these tasks. It felt like I’m being selfish because in the military it was always others and it’s still that way still serving. But how I’ve made it made sense in my mind was it was just like doing PT. You do it because that’s what you do. If you don’t do PT, then when the team needs you to then, then you’re not going to be ready.
Tom Spooner 00:22:11 So you do it anyway. This stuff is going through the range. It’s like doing PT. It’s like being eaten. I kind of just reconfigured that in my head. It feels like I’m just being selfish, but I had to intellectually, but I had to just keep beating it. I’m doing this so I can do the other stuff. I’m horrible at it. I’m a lot better at writing. I’ve made a lot of progress. It’s a trained skill for me. Make sure and take the time to do whatever it is that I’m doing because I’m the first guy that’ll throw a little pity party. I used to be able to work out so hard or I used to be able to give it to the program.
Scott DeLuzio 00:23:12 Well, what advice would you have for someone who may feel that kind of selfish attitude or even shame about seeking out any sort of mental health treatment because of maybe the stigma around it? Maybe just afraid to even go ask for help because there’s that stigma they’re afraid that someone’s gonna think less of them or they feel like we were just talking about that they’re being selfish by taking the time to go take care of themselves like that.
Tom Spooner 00:23:45 So with that, there always will be a stigma there. Maybe one day it’ll change, but it’s definitely gotten better. In the military and outside. One of the slogans that we have at Warrior’s Heart is that of strength through healing. It’s not just a slogan, that is how I got stronger was by identifying the things that I needed to work on working on them. That made me stronger, and a lot of that had to do with emotional, spiritual, mental healing. First of all, I’d like to say to people just like me, that if you’re feeling a little bit selfish, or man there’s this stigma or man, I don’t want people to know that’s absolutely normal.
Tom Spooner 00:24:42 I can’t remember the day when I was making my goals, my life goals to beI can’t wait for that one day. I can go to an AA meeting or man, I can’t wait for that day that I get my first psych appointment. or going to the TBI clinic. That was never on my short-term or long-term goals list. But that’s where I ended up. I love talking about it. It’s just desensitizing that crap. I’ll just say if I needed to up my game and my pistol shooting, I wouldn’t think twice about going to a course.
Tom Spooner 00:25:35 That some big-time guy was running. Or some fundamentals course, I wouldn’t even hesitate. If I had an opportunity for extra training, I would jump on it. So for me, it was just about tapping into that mindset. I’m struggling with my emotions. I’m working out, that’s not really working. I’m living a good lifestyle, but I’m still having a little bit of struggles. How about getting some more training, going into an expert. That’s the thing for me that is just really desensitizing. I remember this is how bad it was for me. I was so concerned whenever I was on active duty,I didn’t want anybody to know.
Tom Spooner 00:26:25 I’ve been sober for a while. I knew the principles of healing and getting better. I got to talk to somebody. I was so sketched out by it all. . I’m not sure it was called military one source and basically you got three visits off the books at a civilian place. That was kinda my crawl walk run as far as seeking help. You’re not supposed to talk about it. You’re supposed to be strong.
Tom Spooner 00:27:12 You’re supposed to handle your own business. All of that stuff. That was what was raised on. If it is true to a certain degree That as a man, that’s what I’m supposed to do. But also as a man, whenever I find myself struggling with something, I would do it with a pistol. I would do it with a rifle. I do it with driver’s training. I do it with first aid. I would who’s an expert or a trusted resource, not some idiot. But a trusted, vetted resource and seek it out. So that was a really long way of talking about what you said though. I just want to improve.
Scott DeLuzio 00:27:54 I get that too because just with anything else in your life, you go to an expert for things that are broken in your life. If you have a plumbing issue, you call a plumber. Unless you happen to be a plumber or you’re experienced in that kind of stuff.. You can maybe handle it or an electrician or a mechanic for your car or whatever you go to those experts who know that stuff. No one’s looking at you like, oh my gosh, you can’t handle your own plumbing. Hey, no, I’m not a plumber. So I know I can’t handle my own plumbing and I’m trusting this expert is going to be able to come in and do it and do it well. No one’s looking at me like I’m crazy for going to talk to a plumber or an electrician or a mechanic.
Scott DeLuzio 00:28:46 So why would it be crazy to go seek mental health treatment? When first off I’m not a mental health provider and I don’t have that training in that background. Maybe I’m struggling with something and something maybe not right in my head and I need a little help to get over that. It does make sense not to talk to somebody. I like the way you put that in it. It just kind of clicked with me when you were talking there about all the other things that you seek out professional expert advice for. If you’re drawing up a contract, you go talk to a lawyer, because, well, I’m not a lawyer and I’m probably going to screw something up along the way if I don’t do it. That kind of stuff, you seek out the experts. But then for some reason, when it comes to our mental health people put on the brakes, and ah, I don’t know if I can do that.
Tom Spooner 00:29:40 The other thing to, like you said, is, desensitize and go into an expert. It depends on where you’re at. Just back to the military. you got self-aid, you got buddy aid and you need a medic. That’s the main sequence. So depending on where I’m at with the struggle that I’m in, the main five kinds are on the fringes. It might need to do something with that then do something with it. They got all kinds of self-help books. No one will know, I don’t know, get a Tony Robbins video, whatever your thing is. But there’s all these things that no one’s gonna know that you’re attempting to do some self-improvement, and if that doesn’t work for you, or you find that a little bit more aid, then that’s buddy aid, which to me is buddy being the expert.
Tom Spooner 00:30:51 So let me talk to my buddy, who’s a mechanic.
Tom Spooner 00:31:01 The buddy aid, as far as seek, and then, well, if you need a medic is beyond our levels of care. I tried self-aid and I tried buddy aid. I tried talking to an expert..I needed a hard stop, mean reset, reconsolidation, organize, me so I can continue on because it’s all about one thing. That’s continuing on without a lot. That is really why seek any help? Why try to get better? It’s so we can live.
Scott DeLuzio 00:31:51 Live well too. Not just floating through and letting the days pass by, just checking the box. Check the box I did today. Then move on to the next day. It’s doing it in enjoying life and living a good life.
Tom Spooner 00:32:14 Absolutely man. Especially whenever we’re out, when we’re in also, there’s a lot more assets, but when you’re no one’s coming. It’s self-initiated, initiative-based training. If I want something different then I have to do something different. It’s a volunteer organization, just like when we joined the military, it was volunteer to do that. Now outside, in order for me to have self-improvement, our family improvement, or whatever it is I’m trying to improve on, You have to volunteer for that. especially once you’re out of the military. You don’t get buddies checking you on your stuff and family. We all know that the only way to really get better is going on those long runs. It’s going to be getting up early, when no one’s watching, putting in the work, and it’s not easy. It’s if this kind of work is emotional and mental health and spiritual health improvement, just like physical improvement. None of it’s easy.
Scott DeLuzio 00:33:36 If it was easy, no one would have any issues and it would just be done. We just check that box. Okay. We’re good to go. but, but you’re right. It’s not easy. It does take some work.
Tom Spooner 00:33:49 I tried that. But that’s like me sitting here in this chair thinking that maybe I’ll just get stronger. I would just sit here. I think about it hard enough when everybody knows, when it comes down to it, that’s why I always, like you said, utilize physical aspects, as a point of reference. We can talk about getting in shape. We can make a plan of getting in shape. We can hype each other up about getting in shape. We can watch videos about getting in shape, but until my ass goes into the gym and starts lifting heavy objects multiple times, I’m not going to get any stronger. but the cool thing about that is, if I do go and do that, there’s no way for me not to get stronger. There’s a bunch of different techniques. I could do this, I could do that. But man, if I’m putting in some work, I’m going to get the results. I’m not putting in any work, I’m not going to get any results. That’s been my experience anyway. Maybe people can get the osmosis thing.
Scott DeLuzio 00:35:06 There might be someone who’s blessed with that. I was in this kind of situation. I don’t know anyone who’s like that, but if you’re out there. God bless you. But so you said earlier that the program is built sort of like a training program. Why did you design it this way and how is it different from some of the other programs that might be out there?
Tom Spooner 00:35:31 The reason why I use that word training is, it’s everything that we just talked about. When I was struggling with PTs I was adding more grief and injury. I didn’t have any emotional tools in my tool belt to put forth those problems. I needed training with it. and they’re warriors. It’s not a lockdown facility, it’s not taking your shoelaces and your belt. Those facilities are in place for folks that really need that. When it comes to self-harm and that really need that higher level of care until they get right and then receive the other.
Tom Spooner 00:36:18 But we’re not that way. When we do that with the screening piece, we get the screening done because we know that there are intense psychological and mental health issues, schizophrenia, extreme, bipolar, multiple personalities, there’s that level, that category of issues, we’re not built for that. But the rest of it, some folks show up and in everything there is to remind them of who they are, not who they’re not mean because most of the folks if you go to a rehab, you’re not on the upswing. No one just thinks, what is that a warrior chart thing that may think about some self-improvement, let me go to a 42-day inpatient rehab.
Tom Spooner 00:37:24 Nope, no one does that. We all come crawling in and that’s the entry fee, but the thing is, we weren’t always at the bottom. Most of the folks that warriors that come out there are super talented. You don’t mean super performers in their perspective fields, guys and gals, wherever they come from. It’s all about remembering who you are. It’s not military by any means because most folks wouldn’t have any part of that.
Tom Spooner 00:38:12 However, there’s a rhythm to it. Zero seven is accountability meeting. We’re good to go. Seven 30 is chow eight 30. What we’re going to do with our first class, whether it’s mindfulness, whether we go for a nature walk, whether we get the canines out to get the body moving. Kind of PT time doing yoga during that block at 10 o’clock. Hey, that’s first we’re in the classroom from 10 to 12 o’clock he has the chow hall for lunch and then from 1300 to 1700 is metal shop, woodshop area, gym, more gym time. In the one-on-ones with your clinicians, whether it’s a licensed chemical dependency, counselor, or trauma counselor, then 1700 is chow. 1800 is phones and 1900 is back in for the evening class. Then 2030 kinda off three times until lights out at 2300? So it’s like I said, it’s not military, but it’s very familiar. Because we’ve all been in an academy and a basic training and courses, Hey, that’s the rhythm and that’s the flow.
Scott DeLuzio 00:39:36 There’s a structure to it
Tom Spooner 00:39:37 The structure to it. Because this is the one thing that we were lacking. Go there. He doesn’t have structure in our lives specifically when it comes to healing, processing, and an improvement in ourselves. Whether we think a set we were talking about before, whether we think is selfish or we just chose not to, we just kind of came off the rails a little bit there. That structure is what helps us get back into it. As far as increasing our function. There’s a saying in this as a structured governance function. If we get the structure right, then we’ve got a pretty good chance that function is right.
Scott DeLuzio 00:40:22 That structure takes some discipline. It’s self-discipline to put into place in your own life as well, to have a structured routine, to help you succeed in whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish. Sometimes people have just been out long enough that they kind of forget about the kind of benefits of having that structure in their life. This could just be a good reminder that maybe instead of sleeping until nine or 10, you wake up a little early and get some PT and you do something with your day and you get yourself started and start off on the right foot. Don’t just clock out at the end of the day and veg in front of a television,, you can still be doing stuff with your life to move yourself in the direction that you’re trying to go.
Tom Spooner 00:41:19 Absolutely man. Everyone is about why we joined. Was to serve.. So we have this service mindset. This kind of heart set there’s this world. No, it’s not lacking for folks that need help, whether that’s other veterans and first responders or whether it’s just other human beings There’s a lot of suffering going on, Those of us that have walked the path. of the military and everything, we’ve got a leg up, on knowing how fulfilling that service work is. That’s a big thing for me, where it comes back to purpose.
Tom Spooner 00:42:09 If I don’t have a reason for why I should get up and do some PT, lash, tell me why. I shouldn’t just watch Netflix all day long. What I’m saying is, if I don’t have a wife, then that’s what I’m going to do. In the military Reno, we never went anywhere by ourselves. Where’s your buddy checking? Two main rules. Maybe occasionally you were on your own, 90% of the time. That’s what I’ve noticed, specifically with folks when they get our veterans is the next thing. I’m just doing this solo campaign or whatever.
Tom Spooner 00:42:58 That doesn’t even follow a train of logic. That we’ve always done stuff together. We’ve always had a team. We’ve always had a buddy, and we know it’s required because we’re all gonna have a bad day. Doing road marching or whatever on any given day. Next thing I’m dragging and Scott, you look at me and you’re pulling some weight out of my ruck because you’re having a good day. We got this, let’s go, and then no, you’re sucking. Can you give me this stuff back? And that’s what I’ve seen, myself, and others is that they just get, so that isolation occurs naturally for some it’s a phenomenon. I don’t really know why it doesn’t. It doesn’t really make any sense because we were always so team-oriented. But then a lot of isolation occurs and then one more and that makes it a hundred times harder. To pull yourself up by the bootstraps and all of that, man, that’s, that’s a tough one, To go out alone,
Scott DeLuzio 00:44:10 What you were saying before when you don’t have that purpose or that meaning to drive you to get better and do better things. You’re just gonna do, like what you said, sit around and watch Netflix or not get up and do your PT or whatever. You don’t have that purpose. You’re not going to do those things anymore. Having people in your life who you care about, they care about you. That could be just that small step to having a sense of purpose of, okay, why do I even care if I’m overweight and out of shape and everything? Well, maybe because I want to live long enough to see my kids get older and have kids of their own and that kind of stuff. There’s a purpose in that. Your spouse or your friends or whoever. You want to be a good person for them.
Scott DeLuzio 00:45:14 You do the things that make you that better person. The exercising and getting the mental health treatment, whatever you do, those things to improve yourself and become a better version of yourself for those people. Not to say that it needs to be all about somebody else because it definitely needs to be about you as well. That just helps give you that sense of purpose, even if you’re not gonna do it for yourself. Do it for those other people that you do care about.
Tom Spooner 00:45:47 Exactly man.I always say I was blessed, I am blessed with the family that I have, so that is the purpose of moving forward. With the friends that I have with the mission that I have that peace. Maybe you’ve lost your family or maybe a lot of people in a lot of different paths or you are alone. You’ll have to seek it out, unless divine intervention occurs, which does occur sometimes, no one’s going to knock on your door and try to get you motivated. You don’t have to go very far to find folks in need if you’re looking, whether that’s something simple, It’s all around.
Tom Spooner 00:46:38 If you just put forth a little bit of effort. How can I help somebody out today? Not to change the world and all of that stuff, but how can I just make somebody’s life a little bit better? And that’s super. I talk and talk and talk about service work just because that’s what’s kept me alive and thriving. And in life, I’m being service-oriented, because like I said, we said before, I’m the first one that I started feeling sorry for myself and being <inaudible>. Just go outside, start moving, go downtown. Just your word drive, go for a little walk.
Scott DeLuzio 00:47:29 It could be just as simple as finding a neighbor and maybe an elderly neighbor who needs some help around the house or something like that. Just go help them out. Not with any expectation of getting anything returned. Just go and help them out, and see if that doesn’t start changing your attitude about serving other people and helping other people out.
Tom Spooner 00:47:54 I’ve never had it not affect me. Like you said, just even in the case everyone knows when you do something for somebody else, however little, however big it is you feel like a million bucks. Like you said, not conditional. Trying to get something out of it. But just, by helping someone out, next thing, dang, that was pretty cool. Or like you got a little pep in your step. It never ceases to not happen whenever I try to help someone, it’s the golden rule. Do something for somebody else. You can’t not get the results back from it.
Scott DeLuzio 00:48:35 It could be as simple as helping your neighbor bring their trash down to the street at once a week. helping them cut their lawn or pull some weeds. If you think about it, it’s such a small thing. It takes five minutes out of your day to go grab their trash and bring it down to the street. But, then when you think about it, okay, this person maybe couldn’t do it themselves and now you’re helping them out. It just feels good that you’re able to help someone out. You’re not even doing all that much, but you’re doing what you’re doing means the world to somebody else.
Tom Spooner 00:49:15 You’d never know what kind of struggles any human being is going through. You never know what’s going on in somebody’s life. Whether a tragic things occurred, whether they’re down in the downs, whether they’re thinking about taking their own lives, I have no idea and if I just do that little bit of something like the things you mentioned, because what usually ends up happening is a conversation occurs, or even if it’s a little one, next thing, some something always happens.
Scott DeLuzio 00:49:53 Exactly. Any other nonprofit organization that I’ve ever heard of, or people that I’ve talked to from these organizations, I’m sure you have some needs that you could use some help with Warrior’s Heart whether it’s volunteers or donations. So for the listeners who are out there who want to support Warrior’s Heart in whatever way that they can, what are some of the ways that they can help?
Tom Spooner 00:50:21 So the first thing is just getting the word out, because that’s the majority of the folks that come to us, I didn’t hear of you until this happened. There’s two parts to it. So there’s Warrior’s Heart, which is not enough of a nonprofit and then there’s Warriors Foundation. Whereas our foundation is a nonprofit. But back to your question, the best thing to do is, if you can just have a conversation. Hey, I heard about this place, Warrior’s Heart. This is what it was about. The biggest thing is just keeping the conversation going. Then the second thing is if folks do want to donate money or they do want to help promote or anything, then they can check out Warriors’ Hearts Foundation with that piece. The Warrior’s Heart side, we’re Tricare certified, all of that piece work with the VA, all of that, whenever it comes to it.
Scott DeLuzio 00:51:22 So check out Warrior’s Heart Foundation, if you guys want to help out and offer whatever you have to offer, whether it’s finances or I’m sure you probably could use some volunteers and in some respects. Definitely check that out. I will have links to both Warrior’s Heart in the show notes. So anyone who’s looking to get in touch and try to figure out how to help out or even to take advantage of some of the resources that Warrior’s Heart has to offer. The website has all that information there. You can check that out, see if it would be a good fit for you., I mentioned the website, but, are there any other places that people can go to find out more about where your start
Tom Spooner 00:52:12 The best, place is the website at WarriorsHeart.com. there’ll be a lot of information on the website, and then there’s also a phone number that’s there on the website too. And if you call the phone number, that’s on the website, it’ll get you to an admissions advocate. If you have any questions, even if you were calling for a friend, Hey, I got this buddy. So the best thing to do, and that’s what I always promote, is call that number and just start asking questions. You’re looking to come into a Warrior’s Heart, but we call them admissions advocates. Because the first thing that they do is start at advocate and for the warrior.
Tom Spooner 00:52:57 That’s not just advocating to come to Warrior’s Heart, obviously that that’s the plan. however, it’s more so about whatever the individual warrior needs. If a lot of family members would just have questions, because that’s usually what happens is family members or friends that call. What should I do? How should I approach it? What’s the criteria, any and all questions that you have. If you just call and talk to them, they’re incredible human beings that have all of the answers as it relates to that piece. At least sets you in the right direction.
Scott DeLuzio 00:53:42 I want to thank you for coming on today. not only just for coming on today, but for all the work that you’re doing for helping out the military first responders, the veterans who are out there who are struggling alone a lot of times and advocating really for them to not be struggling alone to use that buddy aid and that medic. You were saying that in that example. To get the help that they need, because it really doesn’t make sense to try to do any of this stuff on our own. We’re not conditioned that way. That’s not how we’ve been programmed to work with the military context. Even first responders, very rare that you’re going to see, police officers working without a partner or, EMT or firefighters not having a team of people around them that are going to go and fight that fire or respond to whatever that call is.
Scott DeLuzio 00:54:54 They were all team-oriented. So why should it be any different when it comes to things like mental health? Why should we sit there thinking to ourselves, we’re going to handle this all on our own. So I really first off want to thank you for the work that you’re doing and advocating for these warriors who are out there struggling. but I also appreciate you coming on the show and sharing your story and sharing what you’ve done through your work in this community. Really helping to raise awareness for the people who are out there to let them know that there’s other things out there. If they tried something and it didn’t work for them, there are other options and Warrior’s Heart is one of them. I’m glad to be able to help spread the word about that. So, hopefully, anyone who’s listening out there, we’ll reach out to warriors if they are in that place of need, or if they know someone who is and get the help that they need.
Tom Spooner 00:55:57 Absolutely. Thanks for having me on here, Scott really appreciated it with some great conversations, and, like you said, no need to do it on alone. Never don’t need to start now.
Scott DeLuzio 00:56:12 Thanks again.
Tom Spooner 00:56:13 Thanks Scott.
Scott DeLuzio 00:56:15 Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website DriveOnPodcast.com. We’re also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at Drive On Podcast.
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