Dan Willis

NA Graduate

241st Session


Cell Phone


Topic of Presentation

Emotional Survival and Wellness Practices

Title of Presentation

Bulletproof Spirit: Essential Guide Toward Emotional Survival and Wellness

Length of Presentation

4 hours

Presentation Objective

To provide proactive emotional survival and wellness strategies to protect, heal and nurture the spirit of those who serve—to prevent become victimized by the job

Presentation Description

Suicide is the #1 cause of death for police officers every year. An estimated 120,00 officers work every day with symptoms of PTSD. Only 3% of agencies have a suicide prevention/awareness program. Most agencies do not have a Peer Support team or a Wellness Program to promote emotional survival. With over 900n hours of police academy training in CA, at most 2-4 hours are typically devoted to emotional survival.

Officers distressed with PTSD and emotional suffering are incapable of providing effective professional service to the community. Well-trained and emotionally healthy officers provide the best chance to preserve the safety of our communities.

Learning Objectives: Introduction to Emotional Survival Training/Wellness Programs- learn how essential it is to work proactively to develop emotional survival practices, learn the definition of “wellness in spirit”, learn how and why the health and wellness of one’s spirit is the foundation of mental, emotional and physical health.

Mental and Emotional Health of Officers- Overview; Statistics: Learn that 2-3 times more officers kill themselves than are murdered. Suicide is the #1 cause of death annually for LE, learn that 120,000 officers have symptoms of PTSD, officers are twice as likely to become alcoholics, 15-20% have serious addictions, 40% have serious sleep disorders, 25-30% have stressed based health problems. Learn how inherently the job adversely affects other officers’ health, wellness, relationships and quality of personal and professional lives.

Warning Signs: Self Awareness-

Learn the 9 warning signs that one’s spirit is suffering/difficulty processing stress, learn effective methods of becoming self-aware of how the job is adversely affecting one’s spirit.

Emotional Survival Lessons; Hyper-vigilance- Become familiar with several emotional survival lessons from officers from an in-depth university study, learn the definition of hyper-vigilance, learn to identify signs and symptoms of hyper-vigilance, learn to overcome hyper-vigilance symptoms.

Emotional Survival Practices- Learn 28 proactive emotional survival and wellness practices and become familiar with how they help to heal, protect and nurture the wellness of one’s spirit.

PTSD- Learn the definition, signs and symptoms of PTSD, PTSD questionnaire, become familiar with effective treatments for PTSD.

Peer Support- Become familiar with functions and purpose of a Peer Support team, learn the value of an effective Peer Support team, learn how to establish and maintain a Peer Support team, learn about effective Chaplain services as part of a Peer Support team.

Speaker Bio

Captain (ret) Dan Willis served with the La Mesa Police Department near San Diego for 26 years. He is a former crimes of violence, child molest, homicide investigator and SWAT Commander. He has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from San Diego University and he is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, Session 241. He has been an instructor at the San Diego Police Academy for the past 10 years.

Captain Willis was the coordinator of his agency’s Wellness Program and initiated several wellness initiatives and training to promote emotional survival. He works in conjunction with Nancy Bohl-Penrod (Ph.D) of the Counseling Team International for the past 2 years to provide proactive emotional survival training during Peer Support training seminars. He has provided this training throughout Southern California and Carmel, CA. Captain Willis was an invit4ed presenter to the 2014 annual California Peer Support conference in Ventura, CA regarding emotional survival.

Captain Willis is the author of the highly acclaimed emotional survival guidebook, “Bulletproof of Spirit: The First Responders Essential Resource to Protect and Heal Mind and Heart” (New World Library, Sept. 2014) which has won the Al Cole 2015 People of Distinction Humanitarian Award and was chosen as a finalist in the “Books for a Better Life Award”. The book and material in the class has been endorsed by Kevin Gilmartin, Ph.D; Bobby Smith; Lt. Col (ret) David Grossman; Nancy Bohl-Penrod Ph.D and many others involved with emotional survival for police.