Episode 360 Doug Brinker Beacon 4 HOPE Transcript

This transcript is from episode 360 with guest Doug Brinker.

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.

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Hey, everybody. Welcome back to Drive On. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And before we get started with this episode, I want to let the listeners know that the topic of today’s episode is suicide prevention and awareness. And we’ll obviously have some conversation that touches on suicide. So if that isn’t something that you’re comfortable with or [00:02:00] can handle at the moment, we’ll We’ll, uh, just catch you on the next episode, um, so feel free to tune out at this point if need be, uh, for, uh, your own situation.

But, uh, for the listeners who are sticking around, uh, today, my guest is Doug Brinker. Doug is the founder of Beacon for Hope, where he provides suicide prevention techniques and workshops to veterans, active duty, and, uh, teens, as well as, uh, organizations. And he’s here to discuss his background and how he helps others navigate the difficult topic of suicide prevention.

So, with that, welcome to the show, Doug. I’m glad to have you here.

Doug Brinker: Morning, comrade.

Scott DeLuzio: So, for the listeners who maybe don’t know a ton about you and what you do, let’s start a little bit about your background, who you are, and your journey to where you are now.

Doug Brinker: Well, first and foremost, I am a survivor. I am [00:03:00] an advocate. am an individual that served two different branches of military, a father to a U. S. Marine, a father to another firstborn son, most importantly, I am the beacon for hope for other people. A little bit about my background, I lived here in Michigan my whole life other than the time away for the Navy and deployment to Iraq 19 years ago.

also An individual that’s been, like many of your listeners, have been down those ups and downs, those peaks and valleys of life, more, more valleys than peaks, uh, the first 25, 30 years of my life, and since then, lots of peaks, and [00:04:00] my peak is just about complete. in this next year, where I work, I provide veteran peer support specialist work veterans that come into our agency that are referred to me, and more importantly, During my dark time, 24 years ago, the very same agency that I once received services from, now work for.

Scott DeLuzio: It’s a nice full circle, uh, journey that you’ve gone on, right? Yeah, yeah. Um, and hopefully that peak continues, right? Where you, you know, continue to grow and, um, the more people that you help, I gotta imagine your peak is just gonna continue to grow, right? It’s not, your, [00:05:00] your, uh, your journey isn’t over just because, uh, you know, you’ve, you’ve gotten to a certain point.

The way I, the way I look at things is, um, you know, Any, um, any accomplishments you can always, you can always improve on. Like you, you might have accomplished helping out this one individual, but you can always help out that next one. Right. So there’s, there’s always more going on with all of that. Right.

Um, so you were in not only the Navy, but also the army as well. Um, which is, uh, for me, it’s always interesting to hear from folks who have switched branches, branches of service and, um, you know, hear about. What, uh, what prompted you to, to make that switch?

Doug Brinker: Well, 1981, I joined the Navy only because I tried to go to Eastern Michigan University for the most part was told by the guidance counselor because I didn’t prepare for [00:06:00] college. My chance of success in college would be minimal to none. So I joined the Navy. See the world. Go around the world. I actually did the driving.

was a boatswain’s mate, for anyone that’s not familiar, basically, like I said, I drove the ship, I helped paint it, I helped tie it up, do all that janitor work. Kind of say the deck, the deck they call them, or deckhands. And I wanted personally to stay in the Navy. certain circumstances occurred to the point where I wasn’t able to stay.

Maybe Roy didn’t, back then they weren’t up for, well, we’ll do anything to keep you like they do today.

Scott DeLuzio: Right.

Doug Brinker: So, I got out. [00:07:00] the administration officer wrote a wrong code on my discharge papers, which did not allow me to do active drill for the other three years. I came home. Came home, and two years later, I joined the 1461st Combat Transportation Unit here in Jackson, Michigan.

Served three years. Kind of got bored, you know, in your early 30s. You’re just trying to still explore and find yourself. I did that, worked a ton of jobs, out, then in October of 2002, some enticing by the recruiter, I went back in. the ironic thing? I got out of the 1461st Michigan Army National Guard, the armor was a spec four.[00:08:00]

When I went back in, he changed and became a captain, and so I had to call him sir, I had to salute him. Talk about the irony

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah

Doug Brinker: whole thing, going from an enlisted to an officer just in a few years. And it was, it was really ironic when I saw the name that I had to, to report to, I was like, hmm, that name sounds really familiar. Sure enough, we walk, I walked in and had to call him sir. long story short, you know, I, I joined the guard, rejoined the guard, and Iraq, the whole desert storm and, everything occurred, and I decided, I volunteered. They were looking for volunteers to deploy to Iraq. So, myself and 35 others of my fellow comrades of [00:09:00] the unit, attached to another unit out of Howell, Michigan, up to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

It’s ironic that you go to the coldest part of the country to train to go to the hottest part of the country. And

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah

Doug Brinker: up there, it was upwards of 45 below zero, and the day we left, we got on the airplane, was 22 and snow, and we arrived in the same day in Kuwait at 87 degrees.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s a, that’s a shock to the system, right?

Doug Brinker: Major shock.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah. When we went to Afghanistan, uh, we, we started our training in Indiana and it was cold, it was snowy, it was, you know, late November, early December time period, right? Uh, cold snow, like, we had our, all of our cold weather gear on, like, gloves, everything, like, we were, we were cold.

Um, and then we, we [00:10:00] continued our training down in Louisiana and we’re, It was warmer. It wasn’t hot, but it was warmer. Um, but wet. Everything was muddy and wet, and we were going to the desert in Afghanistan, where it’s hot, it’s dry. The complete opposite of both of those locations. The irony wasn’t lost on me.

Like I was like, this just doesn’t make sense. We have deserts in this country. We can go do the same training there and get acclimated. And, and we have mountains too. And guess what? Afghanistan has mountains and we probably are lungs and everything. We need to get acclimated to higher elevation. So maybe we should go do some of this training up in the mountains.

You know what? That was beyond my pay grade. So

Doug Brinker: Here’s my theory. Maybe they actually ended up wanting to keep everybody alive because if they would have sent you to the desert for training, somebody would have probably gotten bit by a scorpion or

Scott DeLuzio: yeah.

Doug Brinker: and would have gotten killed or, or maimed and then [00:11:00] they’d have to call back to the states and have another bunch of troops

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah.

Doug Brinker: and replace the ones that were out of, out of service.

Scott DeLuzio: Although, some of the spiders and other critters that are crawling around in Afghanistan, I mean, I swear to you, there was a spider the size of my fist. Like, the body, not the leg, I’m not counting the legs, the body like the size

my fist

I mean, I could have put a leash on it and walked it around, you know?

Doug Brinker: Yeah, same in Iraq. They’re

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah yeah They’re

Doug Brinker: they’re about that big around.

Scott DeLuzio: They are huge. Yeah,

Doug Brinker: look like little dogs.

Scott DeLuzio: yeah. And it’s, the worst part is when you find one in the shower, when you got, you got nothing to kill it with because you’re just standing there naked.

Doug Brinker: Yeah, it ain’t like you’re gonna step on it.

Scott DeLuzio: No, you step on it, it’s going kick you back.

Doug Brinker: Yeah. It’s gonna have a bigger attitude than you’ve got.

Scott DeLuzio: yeah. And it’s, it’s not going to be a good attitude. [00:12:00] Um, so I want to, I want to kind of bring us back a little bit to what we were talking about and kind of in your, your story. Um, you are a two time suicide attempt survivor. Um, and. I want to talk about that and kind of, if you’re willing to share, you know, what, what was going on and what, I got to choose my words carefully here, but what, what made you think that that was, uh, you know, the, the way that you wanted to go, um, you know, that, that, that was, um, got to be a tough decision to make.

Doug Brinker: Coming out next year in my book, My Dark Shadow, Living a Suicidal Self, it, it, every chapter, for one, there’s 22 chapters to reflect the minimum average of veterans lives lost every [00:13:00] day to suicide. So here’s the thing, in the book and how I share my recovery story to groups that I get the opportunity to speak to and be open for is, A, I was adopted, I was raised by my grandparents, who actually become kind of my parents, who So to speak, I don’t know how the legalities of that all work, but then my grandpa became, he turned to the bottle, and he, after grandma passed away, and of the short, he had to place me in a children’s home.

So I spent, eight to thirteen, I spent in the St. Joe’s Children’s Home here in Jackson, Michigan. same children’s home that Tom Monaghan from the Detroit Tigers. [00:14:00] in 20 years or so earlier. So I spent that and I came out and I was in different school districts, different schools. I never had purpose.

You know, I was like, My whole, the first 15 years of my life was just searching, and I was bullied, I was, I, I got in a bike accident at 8 and 18, nearly drowned in that very same children’s pool at 10, and when I went in the Navy, you know, there’s hazing and everything. Stuff going on, and I really never, honestly, as a shy introvert, I never found my purpose and existence in life, and then when I came out of the Navy, it was just chasing these things Three and four dollar an hour jobs.

You know, the kids today complain about 50, 10, 15 bucks an hour and they want more. I would, [00:15:00] I would have been a millionaire. You and I would have been a millionaire if we’re making 15 bucks an hour washing dishes.

Scott DeLuzio: right.

Doug Brinker: I I struggled to find my identity. I didn’t feel like I, I was just a human being. In my opinion, I was a human being stuck.

Stuck in this world, just existing.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah.

Doug Brinker: And between broken, all these broken jobs and relationships, these, these girlfriends and, and such. I was like, man, there’s got to be something different. And I, you know, August 7th, 1999, I walked into a dark bar back room of a bar with my medications. And yeah, I, [00:16:00] um, I, I just decided that, you know, what the heck with the world, um, if people really don’t care about me, know, I didn’t turn for help.

was the biggest thing, because I just assumed. in life, if you aren’t strong enough to man up, and, you know, I was in the, I was just in a really dark space mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually in that time prior, even prior to that, you know, for, for a good five or six years, um, I, I got, got divorced from my oldest son’s mom, I went back to drinking, because I had quit actually for five years, so I, yeah, I, I, [00:17:00] and I’ll tell you what, um, the only thing I vaguely remember, this was 24 years ago, August 7th, I vaguely being in the emergency room having my, having my mouth filled with liquid charcoal.

Scott DeLuzio: To absorb everything.

Doug Brinker: To absorb all the drugs and everything out of my system, and I spent three and a half weeks on a locked unit of the mental health floor at the hospital. But here’s the deal. When I got discharged from there and got into treatment, into therapy, And prescribed Prozac, and Seroquel, and all those other me feel good meds.


took and chose when to take, Doug chose when to go to therapy. Well, I’m having a good week, I don’t need to go. And that’s the problem, that is today’s problem, is people, I got on this merry go round, I call it, and on the merry go round, Until it stops, you can get off. If it keeps going, think about that, put all of life’s problems on that merry go round and sit on that horse or whatever physical piece you want to call that.

And that’s really what, that’s what Doug played. And research has shown those who attempt to first, if you don’t do the steps, will be a second within two years. February [00:19:00] 2001, within two years,

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah.

Doug Brinker: February 2001, I took my knife and made an attempt. So, it’s

many, you know, we lose, I don’t know what it is. The number of youth and adults and older and such, veterans, active duty, 547 active duty alone took their life last year.

Scott DeLuzio: Wow.

Doug Brinker: And I’m sure that number will be again somewhere around there this year. was on another show. Just a few days ago, a Navy guy, and his deployment, they lost 13 to suicide,[00:20:00]

Scott DeLuzio: During the deployment. Wow.

Doug Brinker: so I, yeah, he, that, that’s the whole point why he started his show is to, more mental health really needs to be open. We talk about taboo subjects. We just, shhh, don’t talk to him, don’t say that, or whatever the taboo topic is, we’ve, as a society, in my opinion, we’ve become fixated on. On, talk about all the, talk about the gossip, talk about what’s going on in Hollywood or whatever.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah.

Doug Brinker: You know, it’s like, the heck with what’s going on in Hollywood. Hollywood only produces drama. We are the ones that are in charge of our own drama.

Scott DeLuzio: right. That’s right.

Doug Brinker: And if we don’t ask for the help, it’s okay [00:21:00] not to be okay. We, we hear so much campaigns about suicide prevention and depression and anxiety and other mental health things.

Topics, but it’s like once we start, oh, shh, know, don’t, don’t say that word, don’t say those words over there, you

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah

Doug Brinker: Aunt Mary, you know, she’s a little loopy or something.

Scott DeLuzio: Right.

Doug Brinker: Stigmatize, we’ve, we have stigmatized mental health so bad that it’s like the plague. It’s like the, what, 1920s, 30s plague or whenever that was that.

just treat it. And, you know, I wear these bands on my arm. I wear, and one is never, never, never give up. We can stop suicide. And then this metal one from the Tilbahala. of you listeners who [00:22:00] are familiar with the Tilbahala, they do great things. I’m an elite member. Do not give in to the war within. That’s where I was at. I had my own mental war going on inside. And then on the inside of that my 20 year reminder from August 7th, 1999. this 24 7. This is my, this is my uniform. I keep this uniform on 24 7 365 as a reminder from where I’ve come.

Scott DeLuzio: You know, listening to your story, um, you know, I, I got to imagine there’s some people out there who probably could relate to where you’re coming from, uh, or, or came from, I should say, uh, where you had this sense of, I don’t have any, I don’t have any purpose. Um, [00:23:00] who cares if I’m here or not here? You know, there’s, you know, what difference does it make?

That type thing. And, um, yeah. I think a very, um, obviously therapy is, is important in this, but, uh, a very important part of it is figuring out what is your purpose? You’re here for a reason, that there’s something here, right? And I believe that you found your purpose. Uh, you’ve, you’re out there and you’re helping, uh, other veterans, service members, other folks who are in that dark place.

You’re helping them, and that’s your purpose, right? Those people need to have a purpose, a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and put their clothes on, brush their teeth, take a shower, not in that order, hopefully, [00:24:00] but um, you know, getting out and going and doing something that makes a difference. Uh, doing something that helps somebody else, that, um, that can improve their communities, or to do something that just matters.

Um, when we all served in the military, um, you know, even during Peacetime. There is a purpose to what we do in the military. We are the defenders of our country. Whether you agree with the wars that we got into or not doesn’t really matter. The fact that we exist And we put the uniform on and we’re there, we serve as a deterrent to other people who might otherwise want to do us harm.

And when they do do us harm, we are the ones who go and do the work to defend the country. And so, [00:25:00] there’s a huge Uh, sense of purpose there, if you think of it that way. Um, and then when we get out, what is a veteran? Who are we? What do we do? You know, we gotta find another thing that is meaningful to us and gives us a sense of purpose, right?

Um, And that to me, I believe, is part of the path out. I don’t know, is there, is there something else? Am I missing any, any components to that? But I, I believe that that’s, uh, you know, a big part of it anyways.

Doug Brinker: Well, part of this is you want to leave a legacy, or you want to find a reason to leave a legacy. Unfortunately, yes, there are some families who cannot bore They, they can’t, for whatever [00:26:00] reason, They don’t get approved for the adoption process, and I feel for those families, you know, being somebody that was adopted, never really knowing who my real dad was, even though a gentleman that claimed to be my dad at 14 while on Boy Scouts.

My mom kind of brainwashed me, he really wasn’t. Eight years ago, I, I, a sister found me through Facebook that I never knew about. She was, she was hidden by my late mother and come to find out the gentleman who tried to have a relationship with me. Turned out to be my real dad. Sadly, he passed away of alcoholism and cancer about two, two and a half, three years ago.

But, to your point, everybody has a purpose. Some just don’t know [00:27:00] how to discover it. And a great friend, fellow Toastmaster, if anybody doesn’t know, Toastmaster is a communication leadership organization started by Dr. Ralph Smedley in October 22nd of 1924, with just 20 businessmen in California, and today has well over 300, 000 and about 142 countries.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah, it’s all over, it’s all over the place. I know people, uh, from Japan who are a part of it, know, like there, there’s people all over who, who are a part of Toastmasters.

Doug Brinker: saving grace. Because of Toastmasters taught me how to find my voice in 1991, and for 22 years. Now, can’t do the math from 1991 to 2023 and come up with because it was, was August 7th, [00:28:00] 1999 when I left Toastmasters for about 10 and a half, 11 years because of my darkness.

of lack of discipline, lack of discipline on myself. I didn’t have no one, you know, being from the military, being from how I was disciplined by my late grandfather. I mean, I stole a 15 cent candy bar when I was six years old and you would have thought I stole a 15, 000 car. I got my backside blistered twice, had to go back to apologize.

And that’s even in the book. However, I learned you do not take anything if you do not have the funds to pay for it.

Scott DeLuzio: right.

That’s right

Doug Brinker: almost 61 years old, I still remember that butt whoopin that Grandad. You can’t do that kind of stuff today. You go to jail for abuse and [00:29:00] everything else.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right. Yeah.

Yes Sure

Doug Brinker: I belong, like, the Jackson County Military Coalition, it’s a coalition that was started two years ago, I’m the co chair.

I’m on the governor’s challenge for access to lethal means and over prescribing psychotropic medications. I join organizations and causes. That, that influence me, that keep strengthening my growth. Like you said, am, I will never be at the, the Grand Mountain, but I’m getting closer. I’m like that little yodel guy on Price is Right, climbing that mountain before falling over it.

I ain’t, I’ve already fell over it. I’m back down and, uh,

Scott DeLuzio: and

you’re just going to continue climbing it,


Doug Brinker: book, with these podcasts, which has been a godsend, [00:30:00] just in less than a week, and looking forward to, you know, if it’s God’s plan, I don’t live, way I look at my life, Scott, is I don’t live for tomorrow, I live for the moment, because Even though I’m a disabled Iraq veteran, it doesn’t matter.

Something could happen in an hour, a day, in a week, in a month, and I’m not here.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right.

Doug Brinker: And my good comrade, Chuck Dodge, Mr. Enthusiasm from Owasso, Michigan, we came up with a tag for that hope. Helping one person every day. one person every day. is what that [00:31:00] HOPE stands for.

Scott DeLuzio: Excellent. Well, and if you think about it, if If you are out there joining organizations that matter to you, right? The ones that you join, great. They, they matter to you and they are, uh, the, the type of organization that, that you want to be a part of. Um, but there’s other organizations out there that different from what you are into.

And, um, you may not have any interest in joining those organizations, but somebody else might, right? And I guess that’s, that’s the point is there are. Tons of organizations out there, um, that you can, I don’t want to say volunteer, but you can just get involved with, um, maybe it’s volunteering. Maybe it’s going to like a Toastmasters, uh, type of organization.

Maybe it’s a, uh, gardening club, you know, whatever it is, you know, something that matters to you. And maybe you [00:32:00] have a talent that you can help. Other people with this, right? And, and that becomes your purpose. That becomes the, the thing that you are looking forward to. Like, hey, I can’t wait to that next event that I can go to, or that next thing that I can go to, um, and go and help this person who is having this trouble with, I don’t know, fill in the blank, whatever it is.

Um, even if it’s something as As trivial as, like I said, a gardening club where it’s like, Oh, you know, Sally was having trouble, uh, you know, growing tomatoes this year. And I, I had the greatest tomatoes that I’ve ever had. Uh, I’m going to go help this person out and, and help, help them. And hopefully they will have better, you know, stuff.

Right. But it’s just, it’s just that little thing. It’s like, I want to go and help that person. And if you, if you don’t, you almost feel like you’re, you’re letting those people down. And so now. You have this, you have that purpose. The thing that you are lacking when you’re in that dark place, [00:33:00] you now have a purpose as big or as small as as it may be.

It’s a purpose, right? And you have a reason to get outta bed and to go do something and go and improve your lives, uh, and in the lives of other people. Because if you’re, if you’re not helping yourself, are you gonna be able to help other people? You know, you can’t, there’s that saying you can’t pour from, from an empty cup, so fill your

up a bit too


Doug Brinker: You can certainly try to pour from that empty cup, but if something comes out, you’re a magician.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right, that’s right, yeah,

Doug Brinker: You made a great point because What I learned in this last, it’ll be six years, January 8th, that I started the employment at Lifeways here in Jackson, and I learned coping skills. Lots of people don’t [00:34:00] understand that if you’re doing things for enjoyment, that’s a coping skill.

It’s just that, it’s We call it a coping skill. Going out and singing karaoke, it might be a coping skill.

Scott DeLuzio: right

Doug Brinker: listening to relaxation music, taking a walk, horseback riding, journaling. Those are all coping mechanisms. And for me, I didn’t have a peer support specialist. been down a journey of heck point where they almost gave in to that war with them.

And if maybe, just maybe, if the Peer Support Specialist Program and Peer Recovery Program would have been around in 1999, 2000 instead of waiting till like 2005 before it really started to begin, [00:35:00] maybe that second attempt might not have happened. I don’t know. We can’t rewrite history, we know that, but we can make our own history, and that’s what I’m doing now.

I am For, you know, heck, past late state commander, Mike Fenness, appointed me the Department of Michigan’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Mental Health, well then, he called it PTS Director, because I don’t say the D because I wasn’t born with post traumatic stress,

Scott DeLuzio: that’s true

Doug Brinker: by it. The world still calls it PTSD.

He appointed me, then, PTS Director. We are now mental health director, and this summer at the state convention, the council of administration approved mental health [00:36:00] as a recognized bylaws program for the state of Michigan VFW. I run it. I distributed nearly 1, 500 pounds of mental health resources and gun locks at the fall conference, and I’ve got another supply setting.

To my right of here in the downstairs of my home, I’ve got more to distribute because if we educate people, hopefully enough up here, and pull on their heartstrings a little bit tighter, we might start to change That stigma, talk, and doing nothing doing something.

Scott DeLuzio: right,

Doug Brinker: And for those listeners out there, know someone right this very minute listening [00:37:00] is probably to that breakpoint.

lost a lot of friends and family members this past year. They’ve lost people who were their support system to COVID, to car accidents, to drug overdose, to drunk driving, to murder, fires, to mass shootings, whatever. Know that you do matter always. There is hope, because you in this world, this world doesn’t exist.

Scott DeLuzio: yeah, that’s right, it’s, you do matter, you know, everybody who’s listening here, you do matter, um, you know, no matter how dark of a hole you feel like you might be in right now, or how little purpose you might feel like you have, Sometimes you might have to go out there and find a purpose. There’s, there’s no, um, you know, when you’re, [00:38:00] when you’re born, there’s nobody who comes into the delivery room and just like, on a silver platter, delivers your purpose.

And like, this is, here you go, this is what you’re supposed to do with the rest of your life, the next,

know 80

90 years. Yeah, the book of life, this is, this is your, your, your, your path. So you’re, you’re going to have to do this. You know, I think we, we might. actually be doing ourselves a disservice with certain things that are just expected of us.

Like you’re expected to go to school when, you know, in kindergarten and, you know, first, second, all the way through high school, you’re, you’re expected to, to do that. Right. Uh, and, and you’re just being told, Hey, this is what you need to do. And then after high school, you either go to college, you join the military, you get, you know, go to, uh, you know, trade school or you do one of those types of things after that.

It’s like, okay, now you have a little bit of choice of what you’re, you’re gonna do, but it’s not a lot of choices. I mean, yes, there’s a lot of different jobs out there. You could be, you know, all sorts of different things, [00:39:00] but That’s, that’s kind of, you know, where you’re, you’re, where you go, but what is your purpose in doing that?

Why, why are you going to get a job?

Doug Brinker: Find identity.

Scott DeLuzio: What is the, what is the purpose of getting a job? Why? So you can buy a house and, and, you know, food and clothes and all these things, you know, there’s, there’s things that you, quite frankly, probably don’t even need that you end up buying and that’s what, that’s the purpose of getting a job, right?

So you find the purpose of I think first, like, what is it that you want to do with your life? How do you want to impact this world? Uh, you said leaving a legacy, you know, and some families don’t have the ability to have children, so you don’t have, um, you don’t have, uh, or maybe some people just quite frankly don’t want children, right?

Um, for whatever reasons. You end up having, um, uh, you know, nobody to, you know, leave this legacy behind to, um, right? Think about other people, right? Maybe [00:40:00] there’s people in your community that their lives get impacted because you are, you know, uh, feeding meals to homeless people at a homeless shelter or something.

I don’t know. But find something. And whatever it is that you do with your life should just be supporting that purpose, right? And, you know, maybe, maybe you need money so you get a job, you know, but maybe it, maybe it’s not doing that thing because maybe there’s no money to be made in whatever it is that you’re, you’re doing, but, um, you, you find that purpose and just think of your job, whatever it is, as the, the way you’re funding, whatever that purpose is, right?

Doug Brinker: And, you know, being homeless, I’ve been down that road, and I was working, you know, doing my job that I do, before I become, we changed over to the veteran side of the house. [00:41:00] I was providing service, I was providing coping skills at the shelter, and I would share with people that I once was a resident of this very same shelter.

So, it is possible, anything is possible if you’re willing to work. If you’re not willing to work, if you want to set back. And expect, what I learned from a lot of those who are hurting and struggling down at that shelter when I was teaching coping skills, is some people, you know, the landlord decided to sell the house out from under them at no notice or, you know, some people, the circumstances happened against their plan.

Scott DeLuzio: Right.

Doug Brinker: However, some down that wrong road. You know, I probably went down a lot of wrong roads that led me to some of [00:42:00] my misfortunes of life. But,

for those who, for those who are really hurting, you have to, it’s the old adage, you know, you fall down, you pick yourself up, you wipe yourself off, and you keep on going.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah

Doug Brinker: keep going, you keep, for every two steps, for every two steps forward, you’re always going to find a step back. And my good friend Chuck mentions, in a lot of his motivational speaking, you can only control what you can control.

Don’t worry about what you can’t control. And so many of us, me included, I’ve [00:43:00] tried to control those things that I can’t control.

Scott DeLuzio: Right. Right.

Doug Brinker: look where it got me.

Scott DeLuzio: And it’s frustrating.

Doug Brinker: drove a Navy ship through 44 ways, 20 foot spalls and 45 degree rolls in the North Atlantic on the way to Beirut, Lebanon in 1982. I couldn’t control that, but I could control staying on course, and that’s where we get.

We get off course in life. And when we get off course in anything we do, sometimes getting back on course takes a lot more energy and time and initiative. But you gotta hold yourself accountable, and

Scott DeLuzio: that’s

Doug Brinker: probably where I went wrong, is I didn’t hold myself accountable because I didn’t have people hold me accountable.

Scott DeLuzio: right. And that goes back to the discipline that you were talking about before, um, you know, in the military, there’s somebody there who, if you’re not [00:44:00] there for PT, for example, like, they’re going to be like, all right, where the hell are you? And they’re going to, they’re going to make sure you’re there, you know, and if you’re not, you’re, you’re going to get punished to the point where you don’t want to miss it, you know?

So So that type of thing exists. When you get out of the military, there’s nobody there, you know, unless you have that system in place. Maybe it’s a family member, maybe it’s a friend, maybe it’s a, you know, a neighbor or somebody, a co worker, whatever, who can help hold you accountable to those things. And, um, you know, if you don’t have that, then it’s It’s on you to hold yourself accountable, and that’s a lot harder, I think, um, to just have that inner drive, inner discipline to, to keep yourself going, um, now maybe you have that, maybe you have that inner drive and your inner discipline because you’re doing it for somebody else, you know, you’re, [00:45:00] you’re taking care of yourself, you’re, you’re eating right, you’re exercising, you’re doing this because you’re You want to be there, uh, for your kids.

You want to grow old and, and see them grow up and get married and have kids and grandchildren, you know, whatever, um, you know, uh, you want to be able to do that, so you, you do that for those other people, but if you don’t have any of that purpose in life You know, those, those other people in your life that would drive you, then what’s the point, you know, that, that’s, you know, so, so yeah, you got to find that purpose and you got to have the discipline to keep going and doing the things that are helping you achieve the goals that you are setting out for yourself.

And I think that’s, um, you know, an important part of this, um, for the listeners who are. Um, maybe in a place where they need some, some guidance, some, some help, or even, uh, there might be some organizations out there who maybe have had some problems with, [00:46:00] um, this type of situation in, uh, you know, amongst their ranks and they are looking for some training or workshops or, or help to figure out how do we, how do we prevent this?

Um, how do we prevent suicides? In the workplace, or, you know, in our schools, or in our, whatever the organization is, or even just for the individuals themselves who are looking for some help, um, where can people go to get in touch with you and find out more about Beacon for Hope and all the work that you do?

Doug Brinker: Well, you can check out my website, douglasbrinker. com. You can go, you can email me at douglasbrinker. com. You can call me, 517 499 0926. Yes, I will put that out there because I do that for a reason. I have, I have taken calls of veterans 1, 2 o’clock in the morning that don’t feel safe. I’ve given up a few hours of my sleep so [00:47:00] they don’t become a statistic because I could have became another statistic.

Of the day to day, every 83 to 87 minutes

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah

Doug Brinker: taking their life. But they, they can do that. They can, you know, check me out on LinkedIn, Facebook inst, I, I have an Instagram I for, I don’t get on there very much Twitter, um, TikTok. However, you know,

Scott DeLuzio: sure.

Doug Brinker: you know, if you’re in the Michigan area, find me at a VFW department event or.

you know, get a hold of me, however you need to get a hold of me. But here’s the thing, for our organizations that have a challenge with the whole employee assistance program with their staff and their mental capacity, it’s burnout. [00:48:00] It starts with burnout.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah

Doug Brinker: so much pressure on people, and when peer pressure happens, people get backed into a corner and like Like a, like a mad dog or a cat, they’re going to come out swinging with claws and everything.

And so that’s, in my opinion, and I’ve studied a lot of customer service satisfaction in the mental health. field of people’s minds when they’re at work. For an organization, important to do self care checks all the time. Always check in with your staff. If you truly care about your, your internal customer, which is your employee, most likely they’re going to care about your external customer that’s paying you for a product or service.

And in turn, you’re going to [00:49:00] reduce the turnover, and you’re going to increase productivity, morale, anything. So, if anybody is interested, yeah, get a hold of me, I would be happy. We can work out all the details of me coming in, I can do. can do a one hour, I can do two hours, four hours, all day. We’ll, we’ll have those interactive workshops because my whole goal is to save lives.

However, I can do it. It doesn’t matter. They don’t even have to be a veteran. But I can guarantee it. Most organizations have many veterans employed in them, including my own, at work. And the other thing is We, we have to protect our youth. We have to start taking more stock and more investment into our youth because every day, every day or [00:50:00] every month, at least, at least, 25 plus young people are taking their lives.

Scott DeLuzio: that’s too You know, one

many but

Doug Brinker: My agency has actually responded to schools where five, six, and seven year olds want to kill themselves and kill the teacher. are they getting this? Where are they getting this type of beat? I sure, you and me weren’t thinking anything close to any of that. We were thinking just about getting back outside for recess.

Scott DeLuzio: that’s right. That’s right. Yeah. If I, if I wanted, if I wanted to hurt anyone, it was anyone who was standing in my way from, uh, you know, getting outside for recess, you know, um,

Doug Brinker: the kinky bars or the swings

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, exactly. Um, well, I appreciate that, uh, that all the work that you do. And, um, I will have the links that you mentioned in the show notes for [00:51:00] the, the listeners who want to get in touch and, uh, find out more about, uh, what, what it is that you do and, um, you know, how.

How you might be able to help, uh, the, the folks in their organization, or, um, you know, for, for somebody who just needs to reach out and, and get some support, um, that I think that’s, um, you know, a great, great resource, a great service that is being offered there. Um,

Doug Brinker: real quick about the discipline,

Scott DeLuzio: yes

Doug Brinker: Cristi Stockright took her Create Your Suite Life program a couple of years ago. She was my, she was my saving grace. That taught me, taught me my true purpose, held me accountable, got my procrastination farther off the plate, charged and motivated me to get my book written, she had those hard, tearful conversations with me, and that’s really what fired me up is, um, is any [00:52:00] of that.

That’s what we need. We need those battle buddies. our organization that will stand up and, and become drill instructors sometimes. We really do.

Scott DeLuzio: Sometimes that’s what you need. Uh, sometimes you need to have, uh, a drill instructor who’s there and, and can kick your butt every once in a while. Uh, if, if you need it, you know, get, catch you back on track.


Doug Brinker: I can’t do the push ups no more.

Scott DeLuzio: right? Yeah. It gets, gets a little tougher as, uh, as time goes on. But, um, but, but you can, you can definitely have someone there who, who is, uh, you know, in your corner. They, they want you to succeed, you know, all as. As hard as some of the drill instructors or drill sergeants, whatever, uh, you know, branch you’re in, as hard as they were on you, uh, they were only that hard because they wanted you to succeed.

Uh, they didn’t, they didn’t want you to fail. Uh, they, they want, they wanted to create the best soldier, Marine, sailor, airman, you know, that, that they could, uh, [00:53:00] they, that’s, that’s their job is to, to, to be hard because. Life is hard, military is hard, uh, combat is hard, um, and


Doug Brinker: life. It’s hard.

Scott DeLuzio: yeah, well, yeah, everything, yeah, so,

Doug Brinker: in life. But, you know, I leave the listeners with this. Place your hand over your heart. that heartbeat. You have purpose. have purpose every time that heart beats. a reason to live. No matter how dark, how dark the storms are, heartbeat will beat faster and push you through those dark clouds like it did for me in August of 1999.

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absolutely. Before we wrap this episode up, um, I, I like to end, uh, episodes, uh, especially episodes like this, we’re talking about kind of a heavy, heavy subject here, uh, I’d like to end with a little bit of humor, um, just to maybe put a smile on folks face, uh, faces, uh, because, uh, Maybe this is the only smile that they get, the only laugh that they get all day.

Um, so, um, I do this segment especially with, uh, when I have another veteran on the show, um, because I think we like to laugh at, uh, some things that we can relate to. And this segment is called, Is It Service Connected? And so we’ll, uh, take a quick look at a video. of a service member doing something, either doing something stupid or, uh, in a situation that’s a difficult situation, they, they fall, they get hurt.

It’s kind of like America’s Funniest Home Videos type of thing. Um, so we can laugh about it. It’s, it, it’s all, all in good fun. [00:56:00] Uh, and then we, we kind of talk about, uh, You know, is that, is that service connected, uh, disability, uh, you know, whatever, whatever ended up happening to this, uh, individual. So I’m going to share my screen here so you can, uh, see it as well, Doug.

And, um, let me just make that a little bit bigger for you and


Doug Brinker: funniest home video things isn’t Serviconnect. Maybe they should have called 988. We’ve

Scott DeLuzio: that’s true. Yeah. Um, so in this video here for the, the folks who are listening to the podcast, um, And can’t view the video. I’m going to try to describe it right now. It’s looks like a kind of marshy area. Looks like maybe a river or not a river, but like a stream going going across, um, the screen with a log of some sort, uh, crossing that stream with a soldier on the other side.

So I’m imagining he’s going to try to cross the stream on [00:57:00] the log, and I’m guessing He’s gonna be a little bit wet by the end of this video. So let’s take a look. He’s on the log. He’s doing okay, until he’s not, and he smacks on the log, and he’s now in the water. Um, I gotta imagine the, I saw another guy on the, on the shore, the opposite shore, and, uh, he was He was uh, kinda watching him come across this thing, um,

Doug Brinker: filming him.

Scott DeLuzio: it probably was another guy filming, there’s probably another, another angle, another video of this, uh, that, that we don’t have right now,


yeah, well, so.

First thing, he hit that, that log pretty hard. You know, it looked like maybe his face hit it. Um, so maybe there’s some sort of injury there, um, that, that could be service connected. I, one thing I gotta say is at least he got it on video. Uh, so he can,

can he

can, use that for evidence. Exactly. [00:58:00] Um,


Doug Brinker: ordered to go on that, on that log though,

Scott DeLuzio: Well, you know what? My guess, this is my guess. So he was on the opposite side of that stream, and there were guys on the other side There’s at least two guys on the other side filming it. Um, you know, on the filming side anyways. Uh, so, they somehow got across the stream. Um, I’m imagining they crossed that log successfully, and this guy didn’t.

You know, quite frankly, he, he took it, he took it hard. It was either to the chest, the video was kinda grainy, uh, it was either to the chest or like the chin, as he hit that log, so, um, you know, I gotta imagine if he got injured that Yeah, he might’ve lost a couple teeth.

Doug Brinker: He must have been the new recruit that just joined the service.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. He’s not, not too good on his feet. That log though. I, that didn’t look like the sturdiest log I would, I would’ve found another way across.

Doug Brinker: it [00:59:00] had some challenges.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah.


Doug Brinker: just went through the water heck with it.

Scott DeLuzio: exactly. Yeah. You know, yeah. to

have wet

feet. Yeah, exactly, you’re gonna have wet feet, but so what, they’re, they’re, done this before, you know, you’ve, I’ve walked through rivers before, I’ve, I’ve walked through, you know, up to my waist, like up to, you know, here almost, walking through, uh, just to get across the river, you know, there, there was no bridge to, to cross, there’s no logs that we can put across that we can climb, or, you know, walk across those, we walked across the thing in the water, I mean, you I don’t know how clean that water was.

Maybe, maybe you get some other nasty infection or something like that from it. But, uh, at least you don’t fall and hurt yourself. So, anyways, um, thanks for, uh, again, taking the time to join us, sharing your story. Um, I know that’s not the easiest thing to do, but Sometimes somebody’s story of survival is another person’s survival guide.

And that, [01:00:00] uh, I’m grateful that you came on to share your story with us. So, thank you again.

Doug Brinker: Thank you for your service and continued service because when you Regardless of the uniform that you put on every day, still doing a service by putting people on a show to not only share, but to spread love, hope, education, humor,

Scott DeLuzio: Exactly.

Doug Brinker: it is trying to walk on a unsturdy log.

Scott DeLuzio: Exactly. Yeah, exactly. So thank you again. And, uh, and, uh, best for you and the work that you do.

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.[01:01:00]

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