Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show.
Scott DeLuzio: Hey everybody. Welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today my guest is Mike Washington. Mike is a marine veteran who after surviving his own suicide attempt, became a mental health advocate and a licensed therapist. He’s here today to talk about. Being a wingman for each other in our times of need. And before we get started, I do want to mention to the listeners that this episode will discuss topics like suicide and the use of firearms.
Scott DeLuzio: And if any of that is not going to sit right with you I’d like to invite you right now to you know, just turn the episode off. No hard feelings. With that tune back into the next episode. Also while we will be talking [00:01:00] about firearms just wanna make it clear that the podcast. Has been and continues to be strictly non-political.
Scott DeLuzio: So we don’t be discussing political topics as far as, you know, gun control and all that kind of stuff. The reality is that there are veterans out there who own guns, and that’s just a reality. And regardless of anyone’s opinion about that fact we’re here today to discuss how we can help those veterans not become a statistic.
Scott DeLuzio: And so with all of that out of the way, I’d like to welcome you to the show, Mike. Thank, I’m glad to have. .
Mike Washington: Well, thanks for having me. I’m excited to be a part of this program.
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. So for the listeners who may not be familiar with you and your story, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Mike Washington: Okay. I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. I was the healthy baby of Hawaii 1965, which I think is why you have me on the podcast for that celebrity that I. As healthy baby of Hawaii. So, you’re welcome. I moved to Los Angeles when I was 11 and that’s where I joined the Marine Corps and spent seven years in on active duty and finance.
Mike Washington: Of all [00:02:00] things went an open contract and. You know, it’s okay, here you go. This is where you’re going. I’m like I had no idea that the Marine Corps had marines who paid people. I just never thought of that. But seven years later was like, it’s time to get out. I can’t do this anymore. And I became a firefighter and San Diego County, and I did that for five.
Mike Washington: and then I moved up here to Seattle and I was a Seattle firefighter for 27 years, retiring in 2020 and December 31st, 2020. In the meantime, I stayed in the Marine Corps Reserves and was part of a light armored infantry unit. Went to Desert Store and fought with them, and then went into the counterintelligence field where I did three more tours and counter intelligence before retiring in 2004.
Mike Washington: In my time in the Seattle Fire Department for 25 years, I was in the peer support business. We have what was called a peer support team, and it was made up of trained individuals in the fire department who would help other firefighters as they go through their challenges. And it can be challenges on the [00:03:00] job, off the job, whatever it is, whatever.
Mike Washington: It’s just. Challenge their ability to work and be their best version of themselves. So I was fully immersed in that. I knew the science to look for and everything else. And after I retired, my, my daughter went in the army and she was a a linguist for a little bit. And my son went in the Marine Corps and he was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2008.
Mike Washington: And for me, I think that was when the final crack in the. just really split open for me. And you know, growing up I’m 60 years old right now, and growing up when I did all my coaches, mentors, male mentors were World War ii, Vietnam, Korea, veterans, you know, these are the crew cut guys. You know, these are the calm down of the Marine Corps.
Mike Washington: When I went in, was a World War II veteran. And and consequently all of my staff and cos and stuff, Vietnam, Korea, and these are guys that not, didn’t talk about their feelings. And, you know, when you played football as a kid, you know, it was rub [00:04:00] dirt on it. You know, water breaks are for punks, you know, you know, all that kind of stuff.
Mike Washington: And you know, you really. Take that to heart, you know, and say, okay, this is the person I’m supposed to be, especially as a marine or a firefighter. I’m supposed to be the tough guy. And then the other thing that we do in our alliance of work as first responders and veterans is we compare ourselves to those people who came before us.
Mike Washington: So certainly when the first hint of PTs D started to happen to me as I look back and review the tapes, I didn’t know it at the time happened after desert. and I was like, well, what’s going on here? And certainly what I saw in Desert Storm does not match Vietnam or Korea or World War ii. And so what do you got to complain about?
Mike Washington: Well, the reality is that, you know, we’re a product of our, all these different events in our lives. I’m a big proponent of zero to 18. And so whatever happened to you before you showed up on the yellow footprints of anybody’s basic bootcamp, [00:05:00] college campus, even, whatever it is, Inform how you are and how you can react to things as a young adult, without any knowledge or information.
Mike Washington: Right. So, you know, having been in a foster home in my first few months of life you know, alcohol, violence in my neighborhood, in my house molest, molestation happened in me as a child. All these things that happened before I even joined the marine. And become who I am Now. You just stuffed that away.
Mike Washington: Didn’t happen, you know, didn’t happen. Well, of course they happened and they, again, they inform on how you are going to have a life view of what’s happening to you and the world around you. So then compound that with what I start seeing in the fire department and what I start working with in the fire department.
Mike Washington: And then compound that with, you know, losing my son and you have a 50. , perfect storm brewing that comes to a head and ends up with me on a bridge, ready to jump over. And I was on a bridge because I didn’t have a [00:06:00] firearm. And it’s has, and it’s nothing to do with pro any, you know, con firearms.
Mike Washington: It’s just not my culture. I didn’t grow up hunting. I grew up in a city and then later in the suburbs. It just wasn’t my culture. I love to shoot. Marine Corps taught me how to shoot and shooting is one of the more cathartic things that for some people getting out there. Right. You know, side alignment, side picture breathing, squeezing the trigger, controlling that explosion and making that projectile go 200 meters down, range exactly where you’re wanting to.
Mike Washington: That’s awesome. And what makes it awesome is that the next time when you do the exact same thing and you throw it into the four ring and it’s like, what happened? You know, and then, so you gotta, you know, get your mind and body and get it back in sync. Try it again. But I just say that I just didn’t have a firearm and so I, I was gonna do a bridge and honestly, what brought me back as I was ready to go over was it felt like somebody was pulling my shirt a little bit, like it got hung up on something and it’s in the middle of a [00:07:00] bridge where there’s no obstructions.
Mike Washington: And I heard my son’s voice that, dad your story doesn’t end here. There’s work for you to do. I heard it as clear as I heard you talking to me a second ago and as clear as what you’re hearing me, and that was it. That was it. Now, there was no light, no clouds opened up and a rail light there was, you know, none of that.
Mike Washington: And I walked off that bridge and and I haven’t gone back to that suicidal ideation. The film that we made the Wingman film kind of represents that in that moment, in that moment of just supreme stress, anxiety, depression, sadness, despair, we, you, me, everybody who’s listening right now, we have the ability to be that person for that person.
Mike Washington: And it’s nothing’s, you know, amazing or. You know, any training or anything like that, it’s just being a friend and being there. Say, okay, let’s make a plan. Okay, where are we going from here? Let me hold your weapon for you. [00:08:00] Let me get you to the next step. Let’s do, it’s like c p R, it’s like c p r, right? So subsequently after that you know, I wasn’t, also, wasn’t suddenly fixed walking off the bridge.
Mike Washington: I had no idea where to go. And I went to a program called Save a Warrior. . And that was an amazing transformative five day retreat. And a big part of it though was, okay, when you’re done here, you need to be, have follow-up stuff. You don’t just walk outta here and you’re cool back out in general population.
Mike Washington: So I went to the vet center and that’s where I got my, started getting my therapy was at the vet centers. And for those of you and podcast land who are unfamiliar with vet centers, they are adjuncts of the BA started by Vietnam veterans who are not getting the mental health service that they needed after the unique experiences of Vietnam.
Mike Washington: So they’re storefront, they’re in neighborhoods. The one I go to here in Tacoma I think there’s a pizzeria on one side and a chiropractor on the other. So, [00:09:00] you know, it’s non-threatening. You’re not going to the fortress on the hill and dealing with big va. It’s a combat veteran military sexual assault or some other kind of traumatic incident that happened in your service.
Mike Washington: Is what it takes. And you have you know, social groups in there. You have therapy groups in there, individual counseling. For me, that was the biggest thing. And then after I went through there, I as I was getting close to my retirement in the fire department and as a peer support person our mental health professional said, Mike, you should consider getting your master of social work and becoming a therapist.
Mike Washington: And I’d never given it any thought. And so I Okay. You know. Okay. Whatever you say, doc. And. And got my MSW in 2019 and I’ve been working with first responders work a lot with veterans as well since then.
Scott DeLuzio: Well, that’s amazing. The progression that your life in your career has taken from, you know, the beginnings that you [00:10:00] had and everything that you endured during your childhood and then working through your time in the military.
Scott DeLuzio: And losing your son, which I’d like to offer my condolences for that. That’s never an easy thing to do. No parent should ever have to bury a child. But that, that’s you know, the unfortunate realities of war is that this type of thing happens. It happened to my family as well. I lost my brother in Afghanistan and you know, be we lose people and good people too at that.
Scott DeLuzio: And that’s it. It is unfortu. I do wanna circle back to something that you were talking about before about how we compare ourselves to the people who came before us the World War ii, Korea, Vietnam era. Guys who endured a lot of. Crap, let’s just face it. They went through a lot of stuff.
Scott DeLuzio: You know, talk about the guys storming the beaches in Normandy, like that, those guys had some brass balls going in basically walking into a wall of machine gunfire. That’s crazy if you think about it what they had to go through. But at the same time, if you think. Any traumatic experience that [00:11:00] anybody takes place, whether you’re storming the beaches in Normandy, you are you know, fighting in Baghdad or you’re losing a child, right?
Scott DeLuzio: Any of those things they’re traumatic and they’re going to affect people in one way or another, and. I’ve said this before on the podcast, I don’t care if someone drowns in five feet of water or they drown in a hundred feet of water at the end of the day, both of those people drowned. You can’t say one drowned worse than the other.
Scott DeLuzio: They’re both drowned. They both were terrible. They both were traumatic. They both were awful. Right? We don’t need to. Put labels and compare and say, oh, this one’s worse, or this one’s better. What? There, there’s no good traumatic experience that you can go through. Right. So, so then, you know, fast forward a little bit and you’re standing on this bridge and you feel this.
Scott DeLuzio: Tug on your sleeve, basically pulling you back off the bridge and your son’s voice you know, basically saying your job is not over here. Your story doesn’t end here. [00:12:00] That has to be a pretty powerful moment. We all have these moments in life that like, you’ll remember it to the day you die.
Scott DeLuzio: Like you’ll never forget these types of things. I gotta imagine that’s one of them. As you’re walking off that bridge like what, what’s going through your mind at that point? What’s like, are you like amazed that you’re still here as you were walking onto that bridge? You’re basically thinking to yourself that this is gonna be the.
Scott DeLuzio: Journey I’m taking and now you’re walking off. What’s going through your mind at that point?
Mike Washington: I, you know, I was asking myself. I finally, I haven’t thought about that a lot, but I do recall, you know, like, what just happened and not in terms of my son. You know, it’s funny that portion of it was pretty anti-climatic in the bigger things, which is weird to say that because it was so matter of fact, like, dad, what are you doing?
Mike Washington: You got stuff to do, like go do your thing. Oh, right, okay. But I was like, how did I end up here? What the hell? You know? And and again, you know, you assess, you saw yourself, you look at yourself in the mirror. And as a peer support person, [00:13:00] anybody who, who displayed the same symptoms that I did, you know, the anger, the depression, the things that I did really well, super good because nobody knew about it.
Mike Washington: you know, a and as you deal with that, I’m walking off the bridge and I’m going, how did I, you know, how did I get here? I hit the wall so fast. I do a lot of us speaking around the country, and I use this video of this British battleship and World War ii, and I and I use that metaphor of all of us feeling like we’re a battleship, right?
Mike Washington: We got big guns, we’re armored. We can’t sing. But here’s this. Battleship has a list on us. It’s taking some torpedo hits and they’re videoing it, and suddenly it just slowly caps. And then it just blows up. It just blows up the HMS Barum. And it’s a famous video and I’d liken what I and many other, I just lost a very good friend in the police department who, to suicide just just the other day.
Mike Washington: And, you know, we suddenly find ourselves in this spot and we have no answers. I’m there to help everybody else, but I can’t look at myself in the mirror and [00:14:00] go, dude, what’s going on with? You need some help. I was just, and I said, okay, I don’t know where really to go from here. The other thing I was involved in heavily was a Team Rubicon.
Mike Washington: Have you heard of Team Rubicon? Yes. Yes. Yeah. So Jake Wood and my son were good friends. They were in the same outfit. Went to School of Infantry together, were two seven together. And so I was part of that from the early days and was doing a lot of work with them. And I remember this one guy, and it was in in more Oklahoma.
Mike Washington: Where I was having one of my episodes, you know, and it’s just that I also compare it to Tom Hank’s character in Saving Private Ryan captain Miller, when he has that collapse. And I was having one of those, and they were coming more frequently. I couldn’t predict them. And they were, you know, inter interspersed with anger and just wanted just rage and sadness altogether.
Mike Washington: And one of the, one of the guys there, he was a soldier and goes, Hey, have you heard of the thing called save a Warrior? And I’m going, no. I says, you know, maybe you know, you should check that out. And I thought he was saying [00:15:00] as maybe a, a. There, you know, I’m like, yeah, I’m in. I’m totally into, I’m totally into doing that.
Mike Washington: Okay, cool. So I called him up and I make the connection. Says, yeah, you’re peer support guy in the fire department. I’m all about this. Ready to go down and help out some some gis, man, that’s where I’m at. He said, okay, cool. You know, come down here and you know, it was in Malibu and we’ll take a look at it.
Mike Washington: And and I get down there, I’m, you know, fully prepared to jump in and go, okay, pure support. This is what we’re doing. I get down there and I’m talking to this one doctor, and you know, we’re talking, and I was that frog in the low heat, you know, in, in the pot. You know, I’m just sitting here going like, oh, next thing I know, wait a minute I’m not a helper here.
Mike Washington: I’m a participant here. And I, after I realize that, I’m like, holy shit man. I am I, okay. All right, man. Here I am. Here I am. And then, like I said, after that, it’s it is making that phone call to the vet center, which, you know, when I made the call, I was like, yeah, man. I’m Mike Washington. I’m brand new man.
Mike Washington: I’m feeling good about [00:16:00] myself, man. No new outlook on life. This is a help. This is assistance, this is a, you know, whatever. I was telling myself, I make the call. This is Mike Washington. I’m here to see a therapist. All right, Mike, come Monday at nine o’clock. You know, you’re gonna see. Awesome. Alright. Click man.
Mike Washington: I’m just, you know, feeling really good about myself. Come about eight o’clock on Monday morning. I’m like, I don’t know what, I don’t really need to go. I’m feeling pretty good, right? You know. You know what? Just go. Just go. And I know exactly where this place is. I know exactly where this place is. I’ve been in that area a hundred times if I’ve been there once.
Mike Washington: I missed the off ramp. twice. Yeah. Avoidance. Anyone. Yeah. Yeah. Right. . And so I get there, I park, I’m in, in the car, just going, alright, just go in there. I go in there and I, you know, I’m stressed man. I’d rather be clearing a room than be in there and I’m sitting down and I can’t find a chair that’s not [00:17:00] having my back to the entrance or back to anything.
Mike Washington: I need my back to the wall and I’m not that. . I am not that guy. I’m not the, you know, I need to have a, you know, all no. But in that moment in time, I was stressed out. There was a garbage truck outside that had a dumpster that was just, he’s like, they hired him to go out there and just stress me out.
Mike Washington: And I was ready to bolt. I’m ready to walk out of there. And there’s somebody arguing at the counter. I’m just like, ah, okay. Abort. Abort. And then Audrey comes up Mike. I’m like, duh. and I raised my hand, all sheep, Hey, I’m Audrey. Come on back here to my office. And she goes, it’s right this way. So I’m walking first, now this, she’s behind me and there’s an open door, and I stop at the threshold and I kind of, you know, look inside a little bit.
Mike Washington: And if I had a fragment and an M four, I would’ve cleared that room first. And she goes, what are you looking for? I went, oh, it was just, you know, just like she goes, get in there. And I’m like, oh, okay. You know, Then we start, you [00:18:00] know, and yeah, you know, a lot of wailing and ning of teeth.
Mike Washington: And you know what Save Warrior taught me was, there was a lot of stuff on my train before I went to war and before I did firefighter stuff that should have been dealt with you know, a long time ago. But I didn’t even have knowledge of it. And like I said, you know, when we compare ourselves to these other generations, I mean the greatest generation, right?
Mike Washington: How do you compare to that? The fact of the matter is they were human beings just like. And storming Normandy is no different than when we were lined up getting ready to go into Kuwait with 80% casualties predicted in my unit. Now, it didn’t happen, right? Absolutely. But for the 146 Americans who died in that four hour four days.
Mike Washington: It is no different than somebody who died on Omaha Beach and go ask their families, you know? So I’ve done a lot of studying on the World War II generation, civilian and and military. And the more you look into it and get past the nostalgia of it, the more you find out that these guys were exactly like us on the home [00:19:00] front.
Mike Washington: 5,000 strikes, work stoppages work and walk. For wages, for better hours, just like people do now, right? Right. People were forging what do you? Coupons and food coupons and sugar and tired people were stealing tires, like it was going outta style because rubber was being sanctioned.
Mike Washington: And so just like people do today with Covid and everything else, we look at it and go, man, how come we can’t be like that generation? They did it. , you had guys dessert. You know, after D-Day on the move into Germany, GIS were deserting left and right. They were like, why am I going into the hurricane forest again when there’s a really nice French town with, we just liberated with French wine and French girls.
Mike Washington: I’m out of here and the worst thing that’s gonna happen is that I might spend a day or two in the stockade, then they’re gonna just send me back to my unit. Well, Eisenhower finally had to shoot. Eddie Slovic was the lone deserter who was shot in the u US military during World War ii, but at the high point they predicted [00:20:00] that it was as many as 15,000 gis who were not where they were supposed to be because they’re human.
Mike Washington: They’re like, and some of these guys have been to North Africa. Italy landed in France, and they’re just like, ah, I’ve had my fill, I’ve had my. GIS in the Pacific didn’t have a whole lot of places to run to, you know? But on Okinawa there was over 12,000 psychiatric cases during that 82 day battle, 12,000, which I get, I
Scott DeLuzio: get, I get it too.
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. I mean the type of that type of experience is intense. It’s traumatic and these people are gonna have a tough time dealing with some. Stuff if not dealt with appropriately. And back then the mental healthcare was not anything near what it is today. And so I think yeah they were very much the same as us.
Scott DeLuzio: I absolutely agree with they’re, you said there. Yeah. They’re human. And you can’t change, like humans are humans and you can’t change that. Right. It doesn’t matter if a hundred years has [00:21:00] passed. We’re human and we’re gonna, we’re gonna react similarly to similarly traumatic situations.
Scott DeLuzio: You know, whether it’s prolonged or it’s a one-off deal. We’re gonna end up having similar reactions to these types of things. I think the only difference really between them and current generations are the fact that they didn’t have as much mental. Treatment available the understanding of, you know, P T S D and all that type of stuff.
Scott DeLuzio: And the treatments that they did have available were kind of dispo at best in, in some cases, right. So,
Mike Washington: right. we love that. We love that, like I said, that nostalgia, that, you know, they win and they won the war, came home and built this Great America, which absolutely happened.
Mike Washington: You know, I mean, that’s, I. For tho those of you listening in podcast land, I am not trying to tear down your grandfather and great-grandfather. They went out there and your grandmother, Rosie the Riveter, is documented. Just amazing things were done. But it [00:22:00] cost them, you know, alcoholism domestic violence in the household by many of these veterans when they came back.
Mike Washington: And a lot of their stuff wasn’t just World War ii, it’s what happened in the depress. , you know, some of the deprivations that happen for some of these people in the depressions, you know, and, you know, it’s a human condition. We are humans. And so at the end of the day, if we can crack the code of how we help first responders and and veterans who are a tough group to get into, I say we have a great tool set to help just the individuals, the civilians in life who are going through those crises and saying, man, we’ve cracked this nut over here.
Mike Washington: These ones are gonna be a lot easier now that we’ve done that, so. Right.
Scott DeLuzio: Well, I wanna talk a little bit more about your Wingman project. The video series that you yeah. That you’ve worked on. You mentioned it a little bit earlier but just for the listeners the project basically centers around.
Scott DeLuzio: Veteran suicide awareness. Yeah. And so what was the [00:23:00] inspiration for the project? Obviously you had your own personal history with suicide and tell people what the message is behind it and everything like
Mike Washington: that. Well, I’m involved with a a group called Every Town for sensible Gun Laws.
Mike Washington: And it’s exactly that. It’s like, let’s put our guns away, let’s have ’em safe, some, you know, things like that. Right. And Tony Koch, who was the director of this project and the the Myriad video company that, that he owns, he wanted to do more. He’s been involved. As a witness and a victim of a couple of active shooters shooting.
Mike Washington: So he’s seen, you know, that up, up close. And he’s, you know, has a very big space in his heart for veterans. And he says, you know, man, this veteran suicide thing, what, how do we work with it? You know, what do we do? And and guns are typically what veterans use, right? Because, and same with officers and things like that.
Mike Washington: That’s our tool and the trade, there’s some significance to that. So he wanted to make this video and he asked me to be the technical advisor on it, and I was like, oh, okay. [00:24:00] And I, because I know what it’s like to be in that dark space. . And so that’s what I was gonna speak to, to help the actors work through that.
Mike Washington: It’s about a six minute film, and the actors were tremendous, neither of them veterans. The the crew was just terrific, very, they really leaned forward into this into this project. And my role there was just to give some technical advice about what it was like to be in that space as those storms come and go.
Mike Washington: And then when that storm comes, so. That you’re ready to go. And that this veteran not only had a case, but he had a friend, he had a wingman that he’s made a promise to that says, when I get to the space, I will, you will be my last call. I will give you that, this last chance to come and talk me off this ledge or whatever the case may be.
Mike Washington: So he makes a call. The friend honors that commitment, comes in and sits with. Talks with him and eventually gets him to mental health treatment. And that’s essentially what it is and what it’s trying to do. [00:25:00] What I hope that it does is I hope that it makes us as the average person understand that we have a role to play.
Mike Washington: We can help. And we’re not asking you to be a therapist. We’re not asking you to do any of that. We’re just asking you to be in the moment. So when this crisis comes, this person, is not gonna be there alone and make that make that permanent solution to that temporary problem, but to get ’em to that next step.
Mike Washington: And what we found in in VA and other suicidal studies is that person who survives that initial attempt, if you will, doesn’t go back. Sometimes they do. Sometimes people are, you know, they’re gonna come back. They’re gonna come back. But oftentimes, like myself, like I said, my life didn’t change when I walked off the bridge, I still had the same things I was dealing with, but I’d gotten through the storm.
Mike Washington: I was just like, oh my God. Okay. Yeah that’s not what I’m gonna do. . Right? And so the idea is to let people know that you too have that power. It’s c p r, it’s citizen CPR r but on a mental healthwise, [00:26:00] when we have somebody do cpr, we’re not saying, okay, we need you to start a line. Okay? Get it back of the rig with us.
Mike Washington: We’re going, you know, give him pump, put some epi in this guy. You know, we’re not asking you to do any of that. We’re just asking you to do this. We’ll take over from there. The professionals will take it from you. And if you need. , raise your hand and call somebody else. Say, I need some help here. I don’t know what I’m doing.
Mike Washington: Sure. So, sure. That’s the idea of the film. Yeah. And it
Scott DeLuzio: was well made. I watched the film and I enjoyed How it was put together. And I like the analogy that you make to c p r with this because you know, it may sound like a scary thing, a big undertaking to say, Hey, we want you to be there for somebody.
Scott DeLuzio: And it’s like, well, I don’t know that I’m the right person. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to interact with this person. Just like with c p R, we’re not asking someone to perform open heart surgery on someone. They’re, we’re just looking for you to provide [00:27:00] the necessary care to get this person to a place where the professionals can take over and do the deep dive and do the.
Scott DeLuzio: More invasive invasive treatments to this individual. You know, so if you see someone collapse you know, whether it’s in the grocery store or at your house or wherever the case may be you know, you can provide that temporary care the CPR to keep the heart pumping.
Scott DeLuzio: Essentially. That’s what you’re trying to do until the EMTs show up and they. Provide a little bit more than you, you’re able to do. They’re also not at the point where they’re doing the open heart surgeries either, but they can continue the care until the person gets to the hospital, where then the doctors will take over and do you know, whatever is left to be done.
Scott DeLuzio: And in this case you know, the way the video was you know, the guy’s buddy shows up and he’s there with him and he stays with. Until he can secure the firearm, until he can get the guy the help that he needs and bring, get him [00:28:00] around that corner. You know, he wasn’t a therapist.
Scott DeLuzio: He wasn’t you know, he wasn’t there to do invasive mental health counseling. He was there to keep the guy alive, and essentially that’s what C P R does. Keeps the person alive long enough to get. The professional help that they need. Exactly. And it was well done. And I think all of us you know, whether you’re a veteran, whether you’re a first responder or not, quite frankly, all of us can do just that.
Scott DeLuzio: We can do enough to keep somebody. From going over the edge, you know, taking that leap like you almost did and thankfully did not. From pulling the trigger or from whatever else people may do. We can be there for people and sometimes all it really takes is just literally just being there.
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Just sitting there and talking with person and exactly. And that is, Big and arduous of a task as it may seem. [00:29:00] It’s really as simple as that sometimes.
Mike Washington: Right? Right. It’s simple, but it’s hard. Right? I mean, cuz you know, I’m gonna sit with you and, okay, what’s the next move? Where are we going from here?
Mike Washington: Are we going to the ER and start there? Are we making a phone call? Who else do we call? And it’s scary. I’m a professional and if I get a call from somebody that says I’m ready to kill myself. Yeah. There is a part of me that’s just like, oh. . Oh my God. Okay. All right. Here’s, okay, here’s what we’re doing.
Mike Washington: You know, but that initial, and just like, if you’re out in the population and somebody just collapses again, oh shit, okay, let me go dc Let me go do c p r. I’ll have my moment for a nanosecond. Then training kicks in and you do what you’re gonna. . And like I said, you don’t have to do these things by yourself.
Mike Washington: If you feel that you’re outta your league and somebody, a friend if you called me up and says, Mike, I’ve got a gun in my lap and I’m ready to kill myself. And I’m like I’m in Washington state right now. I cannot get to you. Who can we [00:30:00] call? And in the meantime I’m dialing 9 1 1. Yeah. And saying, let’s this is what I got going on.
Mike Washington: I’m firing that red star cluster. Somebody needs to see it and just bring attention. and exactly. That’s the, and that’s the best thing you’re doing, the best thing that you can do, and that’s gonna be helpful.
Scott DeLuzio: Exactly. Exactly. And yeah, raising that awareness getting people’s attention on the situation.
Scott DeLuzio: You know, ob obviously you don’t wanna make a spectacle and have, you know, news crews lining up, up, down, up and down the street and making a big product. , but getting the right people, the professionals, the first responders there to help get the person to where they need to be if necessary, if you can’t do that yourself or you know, somebody else who can help out, right?
Scott DeLuzio: Just getting those people there and getting that awareness there is really key for the listeners. I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring this up in this episode cause it just seems to fit. I had a guest on a while back who [00:31:00] is from an organization called Hold My Guns. . And they partner with local gun dealers and firearm dealers who, who will take temporary possession of somebody’s.
Scott DeLuzio: For any reason at all, you could be going out of town on vacation or just don’t wanna leave your guns at home unattended. Or you could be suffering from a mental health crisis or somebody that you know, and and they will take possession of the firearms, no question asked. They’re they’ll lock them up securely, they’ll store them for you.
Scott DeLuzio: And they’ll hold, hang on to them for as long as you. And the reason why I bring that up is because in certain states it isn’t legal to just give a gun to somebody else without going through a licensed dealer. And you know, the, all the things like that, there’s legal issues involved. And I don’t know all the, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not, I don’t know all the legal issues there are, but I do know in some states there.
Scott DeLuzio: There are legal issues as far as transferring a gun from one person to another. So even if you did go to somebody’s house and it’s like, okay, well I’m just gonna take this gun for now. Just, you know, until you are getting the help that you need, and then I’ll [00:32:00] return it to you. You may be exposing yourself to some sort of legal issues.
Scott DeLuzio: So I’m bringing this up because there are people out there who are working to make this available. It’s not nationwide quite yet. I don’t believe as far as the dealers that they have available, but. Things like this will take the legal liability outta the equation and make it possible for anyone to bring their guns to a safe, secure location for temporary storage.
Scott DeLuzio: And I’ll link to that episode and the organiz organization’s website in the show notes. But you know, I just, I wanted to bring that up because there are options out there for people who is like, okay maybe I can. Take a firearm from my buddy legally and that’s an issue, right? And or maybe I don’t want to, maybe I don’t wanna have guns in my house for whatever reason.
Scott DeLuzio: Maybe you have small kids in the house, you don’t have a secure place to store it, whatever the case may be. There, there are options out there, so you can look into that as well. So, so I def I. Wanted to bring that up to the listeners, that they knew that there are [00:33:00] options. So if you’re like, oh, I don’t want to go and help this guy, because then what am I gonna do with the gun?
Scott DeLuzio: Right. Again, like we were talking about before, there are people out there who are there to help in these types of situations. So,
Mike Washington: Yeah, that’s a small hurdle that’s one that can get you know, overcome. And I think so let’s say you and. We’re friends and we make that deal.
Mike Washington: You know, I see you’re a combat veteran. I’m not a combat veteran. And I said, man, you know, things are going really great in my life right now, but I wanna make a promise to you and you, to me, that if things start straining and you recognize some things and you’re my buddy, you’re my wing man, you’re not going to, you know, just come at me, you know, have cocked and just, Hey, just gimme your guns.
Mike Washington: Let’s make that agreement that we. Take possession of each other’s weapons. If we get into that space here now in the calm of everything, everything’s going great. And then we continue to update and say, yeah same agreement. Yeah. Yeah, I like that. So if you have life [00:34:00] struggles you know what, you know, just life, right?
Mike Washington: Family, job stuff, you know, things from the past, you know, and they started colliding. , you’ve got a lot of things on your plate right now that a lot, for a lot of people that, that looks like a way out. So remember, our agreement is, yeah, I feel like I want to invoke that agreement and just hold your weapons and, you know, let’s get you, let’s get you somebody to talk to.
Mike Washington: What do you think? You know? And ideally he goes, okay, my, you’re my wing man. You’re my buddy. I trust you. I love you. Yes, here you go. . Now let’s call up and let’s find you the vet center, or whatever it is we’re gonna do, right? And start going down that aisle. And then, oh man, you’re doing this thing, doing everything seems to be going good.
Mike Washington: Here’s the weapons back. Let’s go shooting, let’s go. Whatever it looks like, right? So, So there’s a lot of
Scott DeLuzio: ways. And that’s a great thing and I would encourage a lot of the listeners or all of the listeners out there to do that. When you’re in [00:35:00] that calm place like you’re talking about, right?
Scott DeLuzio: When things are not hectic and chaotic and people are ready to pull the trigger or jump, take the jump off of the bridge before you get to that point, have a plan in place. I mean, we did that all the time in the military. We. plans for our missions. We had contingency plans if this happens, and then we’ll do that.
Scott DeLuzio: You know, we planned everything. Why not plan for something like this? I mean, right. Especially when you look at the statistics and you see just how many military veterans and first responders are taking their own lives across the country over the last 20 plus years. It. It’s crazy to think that, oh we’re all just gonna be fine.
Scott DeLuzio: Let’s just not think about this. You know, why wouldn’t we have some sort of plan in place to get the help that we need when we need it? Because eventually, unfortunately, it may happen where somebody that you know, in love [00:36:00] is at that point, and of course we all want to be there to help them. Yeah, absolutely definitely.
Scott DeLuzio: Get that wingman in place. Yeah.
Mike Washington: And gun suicide. The demographic for that is, is the retired white male. Right? So that’s our fathers, our grandfathers, you know, we love them. We wanna take care of them. Absolutely we do. So let’s, you know, whatever it is that’s gonna motivate us to do that and understand that this is, you know, this epidemic of suicide Is not a gen, whatever, generation Z or whatever we’re at now, that we’d love to keep scorn on.
Mike Washington: You know, it has nothing to do with that. Alright. We, you know, the commander of centcom, not centcom, but Naval Admiral and Bahrain a couple years ago, 3,500 hours in an F 18. This guy is, this guy’s a badass, took his life. We had the chief of staff here at Fort Lewis green Beret. He didn’t take his life, but he went off the rails and he’s sitting in the county jail right now looking at 10 years for pulling his family hostage.
Mike Washington: You [00:37:00] know, human beings. It’s human beings. My son’s unit, second battalion seventh Marines, over 50 suicides since their 2008. to include Clay Hunt, who was the namesake of the Clay Hunt Act to increase a psychological assistance in the va. Signed under the Obama administration. Clay was my friend.
Mike Washington: We were in Team Rubicon together. He’s he’s my son’s friend. He was my friend. So it’s not. It’s human human, not generational. We love to beat up on this new generation. That’s what we do. And I’ll tell your listeners right now, for those of you who have not gone onto a military base since you’ve been out I was taking a course at Fort Lewis in the summer, and Seattle had the distinction of having the worst air quality in the world that day because of all the wildfires that we had around here.
Mike Washington: Now, How we’re better than we were, worse than China or India in this, I don’t get it, I don’t believe it, but suck at China. We were number one that day and I had to go on to Fort Lewis. Right.[00:38:00] And it was like super hazy. I mean, it was smoke, you could just taste it, right? But I saw soldiers out there running with these enormous packs on their back, and formation runs around the airfield.
Mike Washington: There was a black hawk hovering, and guys were fast, were open out. And, you know, there’s rangers, you know, just doing sprints over here. I’m going, I don’t know wh where all these people are getting this from, that our army’s soft and weak and woke. These guys out here are badasses. That’s all I know. I’m getting tired just looking at ’em, you know?
Mike Washington: And so it’s not generational. And I say that the kids out there today standing on the wall for us, man. They’re doing all right. I got their back. If you’re against them, go on to a base and tell one of ’em face to face. You think they’re soft and see
Scott DeLuzio: what happens. Right. It probably won’t end very well for you.
Scott DeLuzio: And I think a lot of it is you know, just as we get older, we come become those old grumpy guys that, yeah, we don’t like change, we don’t like to see the new. [00:39:00] Whatever trends are going on and you know, oh, back in my day, all that kind of stuff. And so the new guys get, get a little bit of the hazing, but they’ll be the old grumpy guys some someday.
Scott DeLuzio: And then the new guys at that point will get their, catch their wrath probably too. So, again, that’s a human thing, I think. I don’t think that’s a generational thing. I think that’s,
Mike Washington: It’s more now though. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s heaped on more, but in the, in, you know, to your point, in the Marine Corps, you have graduations on Wednesday and Saturday from bootcamp, and the old joke was, what is the recruit who graduated on Wednesday?
Mike Washington: Tell the recruit who graduated on Saturday? He tells ’em what it was like in the old core.
Mike Washington: That’s good. Yeah. No, you’re, no, you’re absolutely right about this. And it’s good nature and I think it’s needed. I just think a lot of people probably haven’t even worn a uniform are talking about the woke military and all that. They didn’t look woke to me or they woke. They woke at four in the morning so they could go around.
Mike Washington: That’s what they did my ass, and get out there and do it.
Scott DeLuzio: Mike, it’s been a pleasure [00:40:00] speaking with you today. Could you tell us where people can go to find out more about the Wingman Project and anything else that you might have going on?
Mike Washington: Shoot, I, Tony Cope was the director. I wish I don’t have this, I’m gonna look at my phone real quick right now.
Mike Washington: No problem. As we do this, And Tony and Alyssa are, they’re gonna, they’re gonna kill me cuz I didn’t have this Just Ready myriad video is the company. And you can do that myriad video. And I’ll pull up and I’ll have some of the voicemail from the future voicemails from the future self in that and okay.
Mike Washington: The one that was before, it was really good. And like I said, I’m really proud to have been a part of this. That one little piece that I was able to provide. But man, those actors and the crew man, the crew was just amazing. And it was hot, man. It was so hot in North Carolina that day. Oh my god.
Mike Washington: Oh my god. It was hot.
Scott DeLuzio: Well, that’s great, and I’ll have a link to the video and to everything about it so that the listeners can check check that video out as well as some of the [00:41:00] other organizations that you mentioned. Save a Warrior, the Vet Center, and team Rubicon. I’ll have links to all of that in the show notes as well, so that people who are.
Scott DeLuzio: Wanting to check out the organizations to either help for themselves or a friend or a loved one. You know, they can check that out pretty easily. So, yeah. Mike, thank, thanks again for taking the time to come on and join me. I really do appreciate your story and you know, what you’re doing currently to help out the veterans and first responders.
Mike Washington: You’re welcome and let me just close with this. And I know that when we’re in the middle of that storm and that, that despair and dis and depression, we think that there’s our situation is so unique and there’s just no help for me. It is just no help for me. While I hate to break it to you out there in podcast land, you aren’t special in that way.
Mike Washington: There is help for you, whatever it is you’re going through. There’s somebody out there who’s also going through. And they’re in a different stage of it and they would love to be able to show you the way, do the ranger thing. Right. You know, follow [00:42:00] me. So even if you think that, I guarantee there is some help out there, we just need you to put up your hand.
Mike Washington: Cause we can’t just grab you. I wish we could, but that’s kidnapping and I want to go to jail for that, but, so raise your hand and now we got your back. We got your back.
Scott DeLuzio: Absolutely. Yeah, definit. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be afraid to reach out, ask for help. You know, we all do like looking into yourself.
Scott DeLuzio: I think, and if any one of your battle buddies were out there and they were sounding the alarm saying that they needed help, would you drop everything to go help them, right? Yeah. Obviously we all would. And and if you’re looking at yourself like, oh, I don’t wanna be a burden to these people or whatever, like just if the roles were reversed, that person wouldn’t be a burden to you.
Scott DeLuzio: You would do anything you could to help them. Same thing goes for anyone else. I love that. Try to
Mike Washington: help. Help you. That’s a great way to look at it. And if an old retired beat up firefighter and Marine Corps master Sergeant can. , and I’m still here. I’m not ashamed. I’m bigger, faster, [00:43:00] stronger.
Mike Washington: Certainly bigger, you know, but you can do it too, man. There’s a great life out there for you.
Scott DeLuzio: Absolutely. All right, well, thanks again, Mike and I appreciate this
Mike Washington: conversation. All right, brother. Be well.
Scott DeLuzio: Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.