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Instilling Hope in the Darkest of Times

Civic Warriors Podcast Episode 7: Instilling Hope in the Darkest of Times

"You're not going to do this alone. And we're going to get you back into the place where you're confident in who you are."

In this episode, we speak with John Natale, Chaplain, President and CEO of United States Law Enforcement Organization, Inc., who shares how he carries out a mission to be a light in a dark place, to bring comfort and assistance where needed to the men and women in blue who dedicate their lives to protect and serve.

Listen in as Withum’s Brad Caruso and Matt Mojica chat with John on how he has answered the call to humanitarian relief- instilling hope and encouragement to law enforcement officers and families dealing with emotional trauma from experiences in the line of duty or off duty, using social media as an effective platform for outreach and being a political advocate for emotional counseling and financial aid for law enforcement.


#CivicWarriors #WithumImpact

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This Is Civic Warriors…Podcast Trailer

This podcast was transcribed through a third-party application. Please disregard any misrepresentations.

Civic Warriors:
Innovative, dynamic, gritty, determined, warrior.

Hosts:
This podcast is about the innovators, the leaders on the front lines of adversity, the all around good people doing good deeds. They are the civic warriors of the world. Our guests are the leaders in the nonprofit industry affecting change. They try, they fail, they overcome. Through their stories we can join forces to become civic warriors.

Brad Caruso:
Hey warriors, it’s Brad Caruso and Matt Mojica here on this episode of civic warriors. We’re going to talk with John Natale, the president and founder of USLEO or U.S. Law Enforcement Organization. USLEO is an organization that has answered the call to humanitarian relief, supporting the men and women in blue that have dedicated their lives to protect and serve. With a passion and commitment to be a light in a dark place, their desire is to bring comfort and assistance where needed.

Matt Mojica:
John Natale is the president and founder. He also serves as chaplain and PEO for the Suffern Police Department in Suffern, New York. He is the author of the book, “Journey of Destiny,” a book about overcoming adversity. Let’s welcome John Natale to the show.

Brad Caruso:
So how long have you been in law enforcement?

John Natale:
Well, this is my fourth year, my fourth year with the Suffern Police Department and doing in the capacity that I’m working with them. And then I started United States Law Enforcement Organization at the end of 2016 and that’s a nonprofit 501(c)(3) and that organization is basically counseling, financially, helping, assisting families and officers throughout the nation through counseling and through finances. But um, my biggest passion is obviously counseling, but we do send finances to departments all over the country and I contact departments all over the country all the time cause there’s always something going on. I’ve always had a passion for law enforcement throughout all my days, but I never knew that the never knew then realized that the capacity that I’d be in today wasn’t on the radar because years ago it was always, you know, you want to be in law enforcement and protect and serve and never, never realized that what the real plan here was to actually be there as a chaplain, you’re actually, you’re a pastor.

John Natale:
I never realized that we would make an impact throughout the nation and make these connections and have the opportunity to speak and to write, and because it’s, it actually came at the most perfect time because of how everything spiraled downward with just bitterness and the anger and the resentment towards everyone that are in blue. You see these guys and you see them every day. When I go in every morning, I see their, what they’re doing and knowing what’s going on behind the scenes where the general public doesn’t. It’s as a hard life. It’s not something that you, you know, I’ve interviewed guys all over the country. When you’re 22 years old, up to, you know, you’re mid thirties most of these guys love their job, but when they’re 40 and over, they hate their job. They’re looking to retire. I want out. I want out because of this the price they’ve paid and the politics and these men and women that serve faithfully. Their every day, they know that might be their last. Just like you know the individuals in Jersey city, the individuals in Texas, it’s happening all the, they, you don’t know individuals that are responding to simple domestics where you know there’s an argument. Next thing you know, I get calls from a debt, I get calls from a Lieutenant, you know, and he’s telling me that two of his deputies going just to respond to a simple domestic and both of them get shot. Soon as the doors open, one gets killed and the guy that kills them is the father of a sheriff. It’s just the all you’re doing responding to a simple domestic and that’s what you live with every day.

John Natale:
But there’s times when I’m walking and you’re looking over your shoulder all the time. People hate you just because of what you wear. The uniform and the shield creates an atmosphere of animosity. Not accept, but you know what? I can’t live like that though. You can’t live in fear.

Brad Caruso:
Because you can’t change it.

John Natale:
There was this one guy that was on the streets. I knew that, I knew that he didn’t like me. It was so obvious until I started talking with him. And the next thing you know it became, we became friends. It’s just because he portrayed the uniform as someone that hates me and judged the person before he knew the heart and just, and next thing you know the guy that’s that didn’t like me is asking me what he goes and where my thoughts are, how and racism and I told him. You ever hear of Alveda King?

Brad Caruso:
No.

John Natale:
Martin Luther King, that’s his niece. She’s in the Georgia State House of Representatives. She’s a very big public advocate for peace and unity. I was actually supposed to meet with her several months ago regarding racism. They asked me a question, there’s like, cause I, I speak a lot of stuff for regarding the government. And they asked me, what do you think the key is to ending racism? I said we’ve never going to end it cause it’s a, it’s a choice. And I said, I said it’s one person at a time and when that person who thinks you hate them sees that you have a valuable interest in their life, everything changed. One person at a time. And that’s why that guy on the street, when I started talking to him, he recognized that I don’t judge you. If you’re a guy, I actually care about you. And however I can help facilitate your future, you know, and make it better for you. That’s what I’m here for. And when they get that and they see it every change, and most of the time people that don’t receive people because something was poured into them. It’s not just creating, you don’t just, you’re not just born a hater. It’s developed through bitterness, anger, rejection, and what’s been poured into you and what, and what comes out of you is what’s been poured into you. And when you change this, and that’s why I tell the chief of police all the time, I said, all the guys that are on the wall that are wanted or this and that, I’ve told them, I said, listen, every one of those guys have a story and probably a foundation that’s been breached. I can guarantee you something went wrong at an early age. And if you fix that, this doesn’t fix it, this fixes it. Your perspective changes on life, on your hearts. So that’s what I target.

Matt Mojica:
I wanted to ask how you, how did you get involved with Representative King?

John Natale:
Through connections with her, do a lot of administering with organizations across the United States, especially one in Atlanta that I do like twice a month. I do, it’s a national call and so I speak on it and she’s friends with her and I was actually supposed to go down there and minister in Atlanta and meet with her to talk about unity and peace. I was actually supposed to be in Washington on October 12th last year in the White House to speak with a whole bunch of issues. They had, I do a lot of speaking regarding releasing stuff regarding Yahoo, Trump, Kim. So it got a lot of public awareness. My passion is to, is to help people. It is to help people get through adversity. That’s what I do and I do it on the streets and being a chaplain also for the police department gives me the, cause. I carry my shield all the time. It gives me the ability and the authority that I can speak to you and help you even when I’m in uniform because I have that leverage. Even the first precinct and down by the freedom tower wanted me to come in and help them and set up an office for people that came in off the streets to encourage them because so many people were coming up, she doesn’t want to kill herself and go to the police department for help. And not just helping police officers, but just helping people. But I’ve been around it enough and I’ve experienced it enough and I lived it enough to know when, as soon as I’m with somebody for two minutes, I can tell where they’re at emotionally, psychologically. Because there’s an old, I mean, whether or not you believe in the bible, I’ll offer a description, it says, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” So what comes out is basically what’s what’s happening inside. So I love helping people. That’s what I do, you know? And I try to help them in a way where they can understand their situation and how to get over it. You know, as the medicinal field, I help, of course it is. There’s times when you need medicine. Of course, but then there’s times when you’ve got to forgive and you’ve got to let go and you’ve got to, it’s something that a medicine won’t, medicine doesn’t heal.

Brad Caruso:
Medicine doesn’t heal. Medicine is another tool in the belt to help you get to the road to peace.

John Natale:
You get through. There’s, you know, and it gets you through. But your, your perspective and your choices causes your heart whether or not to be healed or not. Medicine doesn’t heal the heart. Medicine doesn’t heal the past, the history. Because even in depression, I mean I dealt with depression. Medicine doesn’t heal depression cause it, it just gets you through that, that moment, but it doesn’t wipe away the memory or the thought.

Brad Caruso:
And your previous position or the way that you’ve trained your body to react.

John Natale:
Right. Yeah. And most people today, majority, of people today dictate their, the future on their, on their past. On what’s happened in the past will dictate the decisions they make for the future. You can’t live like that.

Brad Caruso:
You can’t live like that but, but a lot of us do. It’s scary.

John Natale:
All fear-based.

Brad Caruso:
It’s all fear-based.

John Natale:
It’s all fear based.

Brad Caruso:
And yeah, I personally relate to that.

John Natale:
And most of the people live in regret. I mean, I know man. I mean there were times when, you know, in our family we had nothing. No money, nothing. Zero. And we had to make choice. And I had four kids. Like what are we gonna do? You know, but I know what I’m gonna do, I am gonna keep going and you know, it’s, we’re not going to give up just because of this. Cause this doesn’t dictate. Your checkbook doesn’t dictate your future. That’s nothing. People commit suicide all the time just because they remember 2008 when the market crashed. People jumping off bridges, you jump, you’re, you’re jumping off a bridge because you don’t have any money in your bank account? That’s how much you valued your life and your family on a dollar sign that everything’s subject to change. You know, everything. And even when you think you have everything all set in order. Like, I worked for the FAA for almost 14 years. 401(k), you got your, I’m set, I’m in, you know, an operations management. I’m good to go. You think you’re a lifer, everything’s good. Wife’s take, you know, you’ve got your three and a half, you know your three kids, one on the way. You’re solid. You’ve a great future here. I’m not going anywhere. And the next thing you know, you come to work one day and the vice president calls you in the office and you’re laid off. And you go through your severance and you go through your unemployment and you go through your savings and you can’t find a job for two and a half years. You make a choice. Is my family and my worth and my value of my life more important? Am I going to base it on what’s in the bank? No, because I want my kids to remember that I was filled with faith, filled with strength. Dad never gave up. He did what he had to do and life was, you know, it’s too precious to throw in the towel over, over a monetary side.

Brad Caruso:
But how do you help someone understand that? Right? So if you’re going through that scenario, you know, anybody that experiences any either chemical imbalance or depression or whatever it might be, smorgasbord of things. How do you help someone that is experiencing that, at that moment, understand that there’s more to life than the things that you’re worried about? Cause I think that’s the, that’s the key breakthrough I always see is how do you help someone understand that?

John Natale:
One of my biggest, most passionate things that I have is, is talking with people when you’ve had experience in it. Even, you know, as a pastor, counseling, counsel people that have been divorced or, or depression, suicide, the whole deal, whether it’s law enforcement or whatever. Um, I’m a strong advocate of I can’t, I don’t believe you can, you can help somebody if you’ve not been through it completely. You can give them some advice cause then you’re just giving them book knowledge. But when somebody understands that you’ve been through it, that’s what they’re looking for. They’re looking for someone to understand that you know what, if you’ve been through it and you got through it and I’m going through it, tell me how you got through it. And I’m going to tell you how I got through it. I’m going to tell you that. Yeah, it was, it was a support system. Could have been medicine, friends, but there’s also godly intervention as well. There were times when I was suicidal and there was no person to stop it. There was some, there was a divine intervention that came through that get, opened my eyes because there wasn’t anyone to say, Hey John, don’t do this. I mean, it was me and nobody in that car that I was getting ready to launch off of a lookout tower at full speed going up that road. Something didn’t happen at that moment and it wasn’t a fear based. It was a, that voice came right into that car and said, I’ve got a better plan for you.

Brad Caruso:
Yeah, I truly believe in that too. And you hear a lot of stories in that regard. And now you look at, okay, if I didn’t do that, look at all the help you’re doing now. I wouldn’t have done that. But you, you can’t tell yourself that at that time.

John Natale:
No, you can’t. There’s not enough time. There’s not enough time in that moment. That’s right. When I counseled an individual that lost his son in Dallas police officer in Dallas, one of the things I help them with is not just tell them it’s going to be okay. It’s not going to be okay. It’s never okay. It’s never going to be okay. It’s we’re going to get you through it and you’re going to get through it and there’s never a fix to it where it’s I’m fine now. You’re never fine. I lost my mom when I was 19 right in front of me. At 53 years old I’m still saddened by it. I’m never over it. I know where she is, but it’s not fixed. But you get through and you have a hope. But like I tell this one individual, I said, I’m going to ask you the most, probably the most difficult question or scenario you’re ever going to have in your life besides your son. He goes, harder than seeing my son got killed. I said, it might be just as hard it might be, and he goes, what’s that? I said, you’re grieving for your son, but you’re angry, bitter. You’re incredibly mad at the individual that did it to your son, who murdered your son. I said, but if you don’t get past this anger, your family is going to remember you as an angry grandpa or an angry Dad. That’s what they’re going to remember you by. And you’re gonna, you’re an advocate for public awareness now. You travel all over the country, but you’re doing it with anger. By the way, I’m going to help you is one thing is this. He goes, what do you want to do? I said, I need you to forgive the guy that killed your son. He goes, I can’t forgive him. I said, if you can’t forgive him, then you’re going to carry that weight. I said, because that man didn’t just wake up one day and say, I’m going to kill your son. That man did that that day more than likely because he was, he’s dealt with so much trauma and that’s how we vented it. And his anger and his bitterness towards life and towards himself, he channeled it towards other people. It was your son that day. It could have been someone else, but he had a story more than likely. And that’s the road that he chose and he needed help. I said, but now just imagine what you could do for others if you got the understanding, the revelation that you could forgive. Will it all go away? No. But you won’t be carrying the bitterness. You’ll, you’ll be advocating with, with an understanding and even help more people to understand that there’s a problem out there with the heart.

John Natale:
So that man channeled his anger from his heart issues and now you’re doing the same thing but just in a different form. So release the anger. Forgive the guy. And I know it’s so hard, but you’ve got to. And let go and you’ll have it more of an understanding and you’ll have an ease of pain and you’ll be able to love better. You’ll be able to accept better. I said, because right now you’re guarded. You hate everybody. That’s what your children and your grand kids are gonna remember you by. And that’s not what you want to leave. If you let that go, your kids are going to see that there is hope, but it’s the choice that you have to make. And how do you get your help from? The, the, the first thing that has is the instigated is your choice. Is I have to make the choice now and you’ve got to look at yourself because you don’t, you don’t even value your life because the times you thought your life wasn’t even worth living anymore, you wanted to commit suicide because your son was guilt. So you devalued your life. So now you’re, that cycle is going to just keep going. And if you keep that going, then it’s going to cycle right into your grand kids. Yeah. And they’ll keep cycling it of that anger and that pain. So let’s end it here.

John Natale:
So, and even with alcoholism or drug abuse, which I was raised in, um, it’s the choice. Like I understand what’s what’s going on here and I understand that this is going to take some time, but I’m going to make a choice that you know, what, what’s my, what’s my life worth? And experiencing all of that and, and seeing all that is most of the time, majority of the time individuals that carry these attributes is they have a low self esteem and low self worth. And they look at their life as not being worth anything. And that’s what suicide’s all about is when you have no value. But when people see that you have a heart for them, passion to help them, I’m here for you.

John Natale:
There’s gonna be times when we talking, I’m not going to be the one that talks. I just want, I’m just going to listen cause you need that. I’m not going to tell you what you need to do. And like just, I’m a friend and you can count on me all the time and whatever you, whatever you want me to do, whatever you need me to do, I’ll be here. You can call me at anytime. But I’m going to get through this with you. You’re not going to do this alone. And we’re going to get you back into the place where you’re confident in who you are and what you’re called debate. And when people have that, when people have that support system and that love and knowing that, you know what, I can’t make it alone, but someone’s gonna walk in with me. Most people today are selfish. They don’t want to walk the road with you that there is a self centered world, man. People are in their own day. And because it, it, it’s just, there’s a sacrifice involved, a sacrifice and walking it out with somebody, even though it costs you something. But you know, that’s what it’s all about is I’m willing to put down what I’m doing to help you get through your stuff because you’re worth it. And that’s a big, I think a big, big way of fixing people.

Brad Caruso:
100%, you created hope. Hope is the biggest determinant of whether you’re going to keep going or not. People lose that hope or I’m going to like, things will get better or thing, or I, I can do better, or I can get over this. That initial hump of I can get over this. I can forgive what that person did. If they can’t do that, there’s, there’s no going forward. And so, but without you and without a friend or without a support system, it’s very hard for someone to convince themselves to that fact. That’s almost impossible.

John Natale:
That’s right. And people come up to you every day. Several months ago, I was walking on the street during, during shift and individuals came up to me and he just started sharing his heart and just tell me his, all his problems. Maybe that he didn’t really have a desire to live anymore. And I told him, I said, listen man, you know, why don’t you have a desire? He goes, you know, I’ve been sick. I’ve been dealing with this. I’ve been dealing with that I can’t find a job. And I told him, I said, listen, people love you. You are, you are needed more than you realize and your life matters. And I can say something, your life matters to me. And I said, because you’re my friend. And I said, I care about you. And I said, it doesn’t matter what you’ve experienced in past. It doesn’t matter what you’re going through now. I said, you have worth. And if you got sight in your eyes and sound in your ears, breath in your lungs, you’re important and you’re important to somebody. And there’s somebody that looks at you, loves you unconditionally. Maybe not everybody, but somebody does and you’re worth it. Just by pouring into him that, that breath of hope that he has value. He starts breaking down right on the street and crying. And because he just needed that cause he didn’t, hadn’t heard it in such a long time. He’s out of work. Half the time he’s just walking on the streets. But it doesn’t matter. You are significant and you matter. And sometimes you just need to hear that. You just need to hear hope and because we hear so much discouragement, everyone is just, everything is just discouragement. When people get a dose of fresh air and hear that their life matters and that somebody actually cares for him, it gives him that little, you know, just a little. Like a little pilot light that’s still lit, that gives it any moment it can just turn the gas on and it’ll ignite and that’s it. There’s one person at a time. And what poured it to him. Hopefully one day he’ll grab a hold up for somebody else. It’s just pouring hope. Like all the guys are at the police department. Every week I send the group a mass text, not just say, be safe, watch your six, but you know what guys know that I’m praying for. Know that you’re honored and every one of you that has the ability to make choices and get out there and make an impact. I’m going to pray that you know you have divine opportunities to show the grace of God towards somebody else.

Speaker 4:
Even with on our Facebook page every week I a, what we do, I call it honor code. I honor a another department, a department in America throughout all the counties and states and tell them that we’re there for them, praying for them. I’m in, they can call us at any time just to let them know and it means so much. And knowing that I text guys at two, three o’clock in the morning, Hey listen, I’m praying for you. You know, just let you know that your life matters. You’re doing a great job. Know that you might not ever hear it. That you’re, what you’re doing is honorable. Know that there’s people out there that care about you and that they’re there for you and that it doesn’t go and whatever it goes unnoticed is noticed by some. And when you get that, when you get that encouragement, you know, just gives you the ability and the desire just to keep going and just do your job a little bit better. Because at the end of the day, your job isn’t about you. It’s really you’re helping people. And one person can change one person. Man, you affect that, that one person in a community, you can change everything. One person, it just scales down the ladder. It just keeps going and going and going and affecting people’s lives.

Brad Caruso:
One of the things I, I, I read a book, it’s called Make Your Bed by Admiral McRaven.

Matt Mojica:
I think I saw the Ted Talk on that one.

Brad Caruso:
So you need to read the book because it’s, the book is just his speech to the University of Texas. He gave the commencement speech, he was an Admiral in the Navy. You know, one of the things that he talks about is, is the multiplier effect. If everybody here, there’s 20,000 students graduating and if each one of you touch five people’s lives and change, do good things for five people. That’s 100,000. Now, if the generation after you does that, and after he does that, and after you do that, you just affected 5 million people by spending 10 minutes. And if you think about that multiplier effect and you think about if we don’t go through our life with blinders on. Because many people go through like the blinders on, I need to do this for myself to do this, to do that. As opposed to, you know, what if I just send like a, you know, “Hey great job, you guys did a good job on this.” I try to do that with everything I know in our profession even, you know, people like network hard, I’m like, Hey, good job. Like you really, you know, you put forth a good effort here. And like just that little bit, you know, if we all kind of took that attitude towards others, I guarantee people would be in a, in a less defensive place than, than I think a lot of our society tends to be in these days. And part of that is, I’m not a big advocate of public media because a lot of it is, is so trolled in the sense that we paint the picture we want to paint as opposed to understanding that, you know, people can make a choice for themselves. But many people feel that they can’t make a choice for themselves. I can’t do that. That’s against popular media. But whose popular media?

John Natale:
Peace and joy is not popular.

Brad Caruso:
And that’s what’s frustrating. Why?

John Natale:
Because it’s it, it, it’s not entertaining. You see all these…

Brad Caruso:
The bigger pictures, if you can make light of a situation like that, no matter how good or bad it is…

John Natale:
Take something that isn’t absolutely perfectly positive and make it, make it really filled with, filled with laughter. That’s it. And you gotta get a good laugh out of it. But you can see with the media, there’s so much portrayal of darkness. Everything is darkness. Cause that’s what, that’s what people want to see.

Brad Caruso:
That’s, and that’s what drives emotion.

John Natale:
It drives emotions. But also, you know, the, the, the police officer that’s helping the kid or bringing them a new bike isn’t entertaining. That’s, you know, that’s not exciting. But the guys that you’re getting thrown water on, you know, with buckets, that’s entertaining news, it, that’s what brings in, you know, numbers. We’ve created a culture of animosity and bitterness, not a culture of honor. And even the media, the media is constantly degrading people. It’s not uplifting people. I mean it’s not a place where you’re going to, where you’re going to see stories that are going to make you feel encouraged at the end of the day. Right. It’s going to make you feel like this is ridiculous. It’s all it is, is bitterness, anger, this and that and this and that and, but we’ve only painted one picture. You know, and it’s, the stories that are released are the stories they want you to know. There’s an old saying, a house that’s built on sand cannot stand. And that’s the same thing. For example, like with our organization, our organization, we understand that with all the people that are hurting out there, whether it’s suicide or depression with law enforcement officers and stuff like that, there’s, there’s been a breach in the foundation that needs, that can be fixed. I don’t believe there’s any trauma that can’t be fixed. I don’t believe that. Cause I, whatever someone’s gone through, I’ve probably been through it. Cause I was raised in alcoholism. There was drugs, abuse, verbal abuse, bitterness, anger.

John Natale:
We live in a dark world with so much discouragement, depression, anxiety, and everything else. And if you can be a source of hope for somebody, I mean, even in our, you know, on our social media pages, the majority of people that reach out to me are hurting. The majority of people that, that email us or put up posts, and there’s a big impact on social media. You never seeing or hearing positive news. It’s all negative. And it’s like at to the point, it’s like, it’s almost like, it’s like a sea of discouragement. We were not called, we weren’t called to live in that all the time. You know, life isn’t about the next thing. You know, you’re, you’re not living, you’re just existing, you know, you’re you and you’re just dealing with junk and stuff. And so many people contact me and they’re like, when am I going to get through this stuff? You’re going to get through this stuff, but you’ve got to make the choice. You’re not going to get something in the mail, you know, and it’s going to be fixed. Not long ago, early 2000s that when our finances were so low, my wife would go to work and she wasn’t making a lot of money at all and we live by a mountain is an awesome park and I would go and just walk hoping to find a $20 bill on the path, just so something. And I was sending out resumes and I had headhunters and I sent out one one season, it must’ve been five or six or 700 resumes. I couldn’t get a job in ShopRite. And it made me understand who I was and that I could make a choice to, you know, there’s no hope or I can make a choice that you know what, it might not have been fixed today but it might just get fixed tomorrow. And if it doesn’t get tomorrow, the next day. But I’m going to enjoy my life where it is today and believe that this thing’s going to turn around because all things are subject to change. And as I said before, man is not the one who dictates your future. You are. There’s been so many times when people have said to me, they’ve had their in their financial hardships and they’re so broken. They’re like, well, you know, when is it going to end? I said, basically, it’s going to end when you tell a end. When you decide that and believe in your heart that you know what the end is, when you make the choice. You might, it might not get that paycheck tomorrow. You might not get that job tomorrow. But you’ve made the choice, this is where it ends. I’m going to make it. I’m going to get through and you know, and there’s people to help me and push me. You know I’m not going to be in front of you pulling your hand. I’m going to be behind you, pushing your back to keep you motivated and keep you encouraged to know that you just keep going. You keep going and you just, and sooner or later it’s good, this thing going to fix sooner or later, but you make the choice. You make the choice for whatever thing you’re going through, and that’s what you know. That’s what we will, I’ve learned from all the stuff that I was, that I was raised in. You know, I remember, I mean all the yelling man. I mean, it was crazy yelling all the time.

Brad Caruso:
Yeah, verbal abuse is discounted.

John Natale:
It’s discounted.

Brad Caruso:
It’s discounted heavily. It has a weighs on you.

John Natale:
It weighs on you, man.

Brad Caruso:
More, more subconscious than you can think.

John Natale:
And did I get through all that stuff? Yeah. Is it gone out of my memory? Of course not. My childhood from one, from one to 10 was horrible. Was, I didn’t have a childhood. There was no, there’s nothing to look back and say, that was great. There wasn’t a great moment, but I can use that for someone else. And when my family, we were going through stuff with, when my kids were little, I could, I could relate and I can understand that I had tools to get through. What you’re going through physically, presently doesn’t mean it’s permanently. The way you make it permanently is you made the choice to make it permanently. Life’s about, I believe, making wise decisions and there’s an old saying, you’ve probably heard this, I don’t know if Matt heard it. He might be too young. But you are, the company you keep. You hang around discouraged people, you will stay discouraged. If you get yourself around people that are positive and encouraging and even though you might be literally at the end of the end of your roads, it will sooner or later that that light will turn on. You’ll, you’ll regain that value of who you are because at the end of the day, it’s all about this, this terminology, this phrase doesn’t really make sense because it seems like it’s selfish, it’s all about you. But at the end of the day is, is all about you.

Brad Caruso:
You’re the only person that can fix you is you.

John Natale:
It’s you.

Matt Mojica:
Yeah, the advice I always try to give my friends is like, it’s, I feel like my generation is so quick to always help other people that they don’t help themselves. And I say it’s okay to be selfish sometimes. Like you, it’s like the airplane theory. Like you have to put on your own air mask before you can give someone else their air mask.

Brad Caruso:
Yeah. In the a, I’m a, I’m a volunteer firefighter. So in that profession, the first thing they tell you in the academy is if you can’t help yourself, you can’t help the person next to you. And if you’re on a team of people and you’re not monitoring your own air, regardless of what the other person’s doing and your air runs out, now you’re hindering the whole team because they don’t even take care of yourself first. Right. And you didn’t like that house on fire. Someone else did or something. Something else happened. And if you didn’t do that, why are you making it your problem? You’re making your problem cause you’re making it your problem. And I think that’s a, that’s a big part. And I think a lot of people don’t, don’t necessarily, uh, put into perspective, especially when they’re trying to get help is I have to help myself. Yes, other people are going to help me and I probably can’t out myself without that support system. But until I make the decision that I’m going to help myself, I’m going to make the selfish decision to move forward. I’m not moving forward. And that’s the, I think that’s the most, uh, heavily like unconsidered probably not even the word unconsidered thing is that I need to first help myself and, and realize all the resources around me, but, but until I take that first step, I’m not going forward.

John Natale:
That’s correct. Yeah. Even in the midst of moms and dads, it’s important. You know, I tell people this all the time when I’m counseling, whether or not we even with know people that are getting married or been married for a long time or whatever, no matter who it is. Is the fact that you can’t forget yourself. You can’t forget that you have a future too. And as much as you pour into others, you can’t forget about yourself. Because you can pour and pour and pour out for out, especially as a husband and wife, you know, and never go out to dinner, never spend quality time with your wife. Never take a vacation. And I’ll tell people this all the time, listen man, you’re giving out so much, but you’re not remembering that you, that you’re, you’re just as important and you’ve got to take care of yourself. And if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you actually pour into others successfully if you’re not pouring in, if you’re not taking care of yourself.

John Natale:
And that’s why for example, that one police officer’s father that I helped tell him, I said, listen, you’re advocating, and I said this before, you’re advocating out of anger so you’re only helping so much because your body language and what comes out, people see it. They’re not dumb. They’ll see that if you’re, if you’re advocating not out of a heart of peace but out of heart of a frustration, then you’re really not accomplishing what you need to accomplish. That’s so super important. And that today is, I believe one of the keys to a successful community is when, when the heart is, uh, is revealed and is vulnerable and people can love unconditionally. You know, when I, when I, when I counsel people before they’re married, I say, listen, this is an unconditional love thing here. You’re loving them no matter what they’re going through. There’s no conditions on this and it’s not in sickness, the sickness and in death and blah, blah, blah. But the point of the matter is your spouse is going to make bad choices and you’ve got to accept it. And it’s not a get out of jail free card because they made a mistake or they, they messed up real bad or I’m out. That’s not unconditional love. That’s you’re going in with conditions that I need to meet my, you need to meet my standards in order to make me happy. And there is no person in this world, and I tell this before, it’s so many times before. My wife and I been married, 32 years and all the decisions that I have to in my life and all the things that I’ve been through, my wife doesn’t give me peace. She gives me hope. She will encourage me. She’ll put her arm around me, she give me a big hug, give me a kiss, tell me she loves me, but she can’t give me peace in my heart. The only person you know, there’s only one person. I give you peace in your heart. And there’s only one person that can make that choice to that even happen. And it’s you. And all this stuff that you’re going through, man, can’t fix only you can. And that’s what I believe is, is the key of helping. Like I said, a community society, a nation. And that’s why we spend so much time on social media, advocating encouragement and hope for people to get through. And being just a transparent person in every capacity, law enforcement and people all over the country have that. They’re, they’re worth it. They matter. If I got through it. You can.

Brad Caruso:
What mediums of social media do you use? Just Facebook?

John Natale:
I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. But we have on our Facebook accounts, we pretty extensive and large following on Facebook, pretty large. Twitter has never been that really that big. But um, but on social media, on Facebook it’s pretty big. Being interviewed with certain news media is and stuff like that kind of created a big platform for us. With Facebook we are a large pretty large following. If I put up anything regarding the president, it’ll hit, you know, 50,000, hundreds and hundreds of shares, you know, thousands and thousands of likes. But it’s because it’s pretty much everything changed in 2016 when I started getting interviewed by the networks. And mean social media is an incredible platform to help people. It was never this way and then all of a sudden it just changed. But there’s a price. There’s always a price to be paid because even when it’s crazy, cause even when you encouraging people, there’s people out there that are angry that you’re encouraging people.

Brad Caruso:
Uh, any celebrity will tell you, don’t read the comments, keep doing what you’re doing.

John Natale:
Oh, the haters.

Brad Caruso:
Do not read the comments. You can’t control someone who’s angry with themselves taking it out on you.

John Natale:
That’s crazy. And it’s, if people know the, the walk that you’ve walked and where you’ve been. We’ve had, we have so many haters. This one person one time wrote this big long thing for everyone to read. I responded to it, but in a way that this person wasn’t expecting me to respond. And I responded and said, you know what? I really appreciate your, your opinion and it’s okay man. Have your opinions. It’s okay. I said, I’m not going to defend myself, but it’s okay. I understand. And just by saying that the person private messages me and says, I was hoping that if you were legit, you would respond to me publicly. And he goes, you did. And he apologized. This person apologized because he never, he was more than likely expecting me to hammer him or just delete his posts.

Brad Caruso:
Well, that’s exactly it. People are driving interaction with themselves, right, and that’s why it’s a lot of times, same thing with media. They post negative things because you’re more likely to respond to that than all the love you’re getting.

John Natale:
A lot of times, like you said, people will respond out of anger because what they’re hoping would change in their life hasn’t so, and people will actually reject help. They’ll reject it because they’ll actually go back to their place of despair for comfort. You go back to a place of bondage for hope. When Jesus was crucified and put in the tomb, he said, I’d be resurrected on the third day. Right? Well, on the third day, what did the ladies do? What’d they do? They went back to the tomb to see if he was in there. They went and they stayed in there. They went. They ran to a tomb to see if he was there or not. Why would you run back to a place of discouragement when you know the person already said, I’m not going to be there? Because you really didn’t believe.

Brad Caruso:
Because you didn’t have faith that person really wasn’t going to be there.

John Natale:
So what were they really wanting to see? They really wanted him there. They really wanted him there because if they knew he wasn’t there, they wouldn’t have never ran back. But they didn’t really believe. So why would you run back to a place? Because that was the place is symbolic is death? So they went from a place of life back to a place of death to bring them hope. So they went backwards to find hope in a place of darkness. A lot of times we’ll do that. So why do you think people, when they, why do you think people go to the bar to drink, to drink the worries away? They’ll go into a place where they know it’s not the healthiest. It’ll cover it momentarily to help me get through. So your bondage, you actually use your bondage to help you get through life. A lot of times reject help because they’re completely convinced there’s no hope and nothing’s worked before, so why would it work now?

Matt Mojica:
How do you find a way to break that though? Like how do you find a way to get people who are rejecting hope and help them find it again?

John Natale:
Well, you know, it’s diligence. You gotta be persistent. You got to keep going. From when I was a kid, going through what I was going through and experiencing what I was experiencing in my family. You had, you had to make a choice every day. I’m going to keep going. I’m going to keep going. And the understanding that this is going to take work, but you need to constantly keep going and constantly push. Like this guy that I, that I counsel, every time I speak to him, I said, listen man, how are you doing today? I’m not doing too well. Well, let me just tell you. Let’s just go right back to the basics. I’m not going to tell you everything’s gonna be great, but I’m going to tell you that you’re worth it. You know your life has value. Let’s keep looking. What can I do for you today? Look at your kids, look at your grand kids. When you lift up that little grand boy that’s in your, on your, you know, in your arms. Just look at his face. Here’s the other thing. When I was, uh, when one of my kids, my son Luke, when he was seven years old, I put him to bed one night, going through a lot of stuff. I put on the bed, I sat on the end of his bed. I’m looking at him and I heard this voice. And the voice said, John, one day, if you’re not here, what’s that young boy going to remember you by? And that changed everything when I heard that. What is that kid going to remember you by? I don’t want him, I don’t want him to remember by remembering me by, you know what I bought him. I want him to remember me by how much I loved him, how much I was there for him, and how much dad never gave up. And that he, and I want him to have the mindset that, you know what, dad might not have had this and he might not have had that. And yeah I did see struggles in his life. But you know what, he never gave up. He loved my mom unconditionally, loved us unconditionally. He put his family first. And so many people put their jobs first and finances first. But at the end of the day, my wife and my kids, you could say, Oh, it might be a wrong attitude, but I put them ahead of me. Even though I have to take care of me first, I still put my wife and my kids ahead of me so they understand I’m not just here to make a paycheck and to pay the bills or whatever. I’m here to pour into you. So what I’ve poured into you unconditionally and the love that I’m pouring into you and hopefully the role model that you’ll cherish, you’ll pour into your kids one day. And that in the midst of adversity there’s hope and that we’re a team and we’re going to make this thing together. And I’m also, like I said, I’m quite transparent with my kids and my wife and I believe in being transparent. They understand, they see both sides and it’s not just this one side and it’s tools. Tools recognize that you know what? Cause there lives these little kids and even my 15 year old when they’re 25, life’s gonna be totally different at that time. It can be a lot harder. It’s still a who you are, how you see yourself and don’t ever give up and you don’t worry about how hard it’s going to be. You don’t worry about how am I going to get through. You worry about, just take care of today. Just take care of what you got to go through today and get through it. Let tomorrow care for itself. But make an impact in somebody’s life today. And I’ll tell you, just like you said, one person’s changed, you know, give that one person a glimpse of hope today and the whole everything could change. Just one person, one heart at a time.

Matt Mojica:
I feel like that’s how you break that feedback loop, that negative one.

John Natale:
Life is a, it’s not an easy road. You have no idea what tomorrow gonna bring. I just lost my mother-in-law Tuesday. It wasn’t on the radar. And when my wife and I were in the room with her and take care of her and then five minutes later, unexpected. Next thing you know, she slipping into eternity. Had no idea. Being a son in law for for 32 years. And now that she’s gone, you look back at all the great times and everything that you got through and what you experienced. And it was an honor to experience, to walk the walk that her and I did over the course of the last 11 days with her when she came home sick and a really, really dark time. But it was an honor to, to go through that and to share those moments with her because it made me appreciate life even more of my life and my family and however I can help others. And as an 87 year old woman that that finished well, life is about perspective, how you see yourself and how you see others. It’s how, how, how beautiful it is and how amazing it is. And that every person is significant. They’re important and life’s full of, you know, uncertainties. You don’t know what tomorrow is gonna bring, you have no idea. And so many people are already forecasting what tomorrow is going to bring. But giving them that hope and giving them that, that, that, that source of strength, you know, and the perspective of who they are, they’ll make it, she’s got to keep pushing.

Brad Caruso:
My wife, she has, she has this one thing she taught me, it was kind of that exact concept and she’s very good about forgetting about negative things in the past. Her, her a tattoo that she hasn’t heard it says live for today. So that’s, that’s her big, big thing. And she kind of taught me that, which is awesome. Because I have this analytical, anxious mind where I dwell on all the problems and all the things that went wrong in my past. And then she just reminds me like, that’s fine. All that’s over. What happened? You know you’re not alone, you have your kids right here. Like stop, stop thinking about it and hang out with your kids. Be there for them.

John Natale:
And you can live in the realm of regret.

Brad Caruso:
Which, which is the worst place to be.

John Natale:
Decisions that you should have made in the past. You didn’t, or things that you wanted to do. You didn’t, you know, and things that you should’ve said you didn’t. Even like with individuals that I counsel, you know, they have regrets because I should have done this. Well with guys that lost their kids, you know, in LEOs. Even my mom, you know, when my mom passed away and I was 19 I had regrets. Well, why didn’t I do this? Why didn’t I say that? You can’t, you can always find something. But you know what, it’s, you know, you, look at the positive things and you look at what you and how you can change things today. Let’s say one, one decision today can change everything.

Brad Caruso:
That happened to my dad, when I was eight, the, uh, everything was going fine and he got into a car accident and almost died. He was in the hospital for six months. And, but like that moment like changes your life. Yeah. You have to, you have to live for every moment. Cause any moment can be your last.

John Natale:
We have no idea what tomorrow brings, man. Chaplains are an incredible source of just pouring in and pouring in and, and, uh, and being there. Your hope is you don’t want to be that voice for someone that’s lost a lot. You want to be that voice before that. You just got to keep enforcing hope, keeping their eyes open, not physically, but spiritually to knowing that your life could end today and you gotta know where you’re going. That’s important because you got kids, you got a wife, but your, your life is on the line every day and it could end at any moment. And you got to understand that. And there’s so many people that have lost loved ones that have no hope and they never recoup. They never, they never rebound from it. So it’s that source of strength, man, that source of hope and just, just keeping people encouraged and that knowing that, uh, you know what it’s going to be okay. We’re going to get through this and we’re gonna get through this together. And uh, there’s someone always pushing on your side.

Brad Caruso:
Yeah. That’s good. That’s great to hear cause it’s, we all need that positive encouragement. I think that’s where you’re doing such a great job in the world is just bringing that positive encouragement, you know, to, to many, not just, not just your own local department, not just your own local community to departments around the country. And I think that’s, you know, there’s a challenge behind that obviously, but, but it’s, it’s awesome that you’re doing that. You know, you’re making a big impact on social media, raising awareness. I think raising awareness is a big piece cause many of us in the public, I don’t think necessarily understand the implications of, of what it means to wear the blue.

John Natale:
You’re not a police officer to protect, to this is what I want to do and it’s a really cool job. It’s about people you have to care about more about people than yourself. Cause that’s what it’s about.

Brad Caruso:
Especially breaking through to people that don’t like you very much.

John Natale:
That’s what it’s about. Love working with people to make a positive impact in their lives. You gotta, if you’re going to be a police officer, you’ve got to work, you’ve got to love working with people. If you don’t love working with people and if you have any type of bitterness, anger, or any type of discrimination, it’s not going to work. And eventually it’s going to come out in your job. It’s eventually come out sooner or later is going to hit the fan and you got to realize that, you know, I’m there, I’m doing this for them. I’m not doing it. But you’re doing it for you too. But at the end of the day, your job is that, not this. And just being, raising awareness like I said, and being a spokesperson for not just on the political level that we do, but on a, in a law enforcement capacity as well. That you know what they need that and most chaplains today are not given it. They’re given, you know, the the avenue of, you know, I’m there for you during the times of trauma, but we don’t wait for that.

Matt Mojica:
It’s like that phrase. You don’t want to put on Band-Aids. You want to put on knee pads so you don’t have to slap on a Band-Aid.

John Natale:
Right. And those, most chaplains today are not spending the time to be, uh, to be an influence in the people that are in their department. Being a role model, being that mentor. You need that everyone. It’s like a life coach, a life coach outside and internal.

Matt Mojica:
Does every a police force have a chaplain or?

John Natale:
I got hired by the Florida state police three years ago and we were supposed to move down to Florida down in Fort Myers.

Matt Mojica:
I’m glad you guys didn’t move down.

John Natale:
And they were begging me to come. They had none. And a lot of these positions are full time and unfortunately there’s many, many departments about the United States don’t have them. And they should because it’s a high stress job. So we, I believe we have something that’s really good. I believe we have something that’s extremely positive and can help. And I just believe the people that we have on board, the other guys that are working with me can make an incredible difference because we have such an interest in people’s lives, not after the fact. And that’s what we’re all about is build bridges. I love it. I mean I love it.

Brad Caruso:
Yeah. And that, and you could tell just in your voice, I mean, the passion that you have is what’s going to, is what sets you apart and is what also is going to make you successful in your endeavors. That is that strong passion for the cause. So where do you see, you know, just as a, as a charitable organization, you know, where do you see yourself needing help? And it could be monetary donation wise. It could be people wise, you know? Where do you see, to grow your mission and to succeed your mission? Where, where do you see the biggest assistance?

John Natale:
Right now we just need some more visibility. Like I said, we do have a pretty decent display on, on social media, but at the end of the day it’s, you know, you’ve got to get, you got to meet with these people. More visibility. People know that we’re here. The one thing that’s cool about our organization is that when you’re a chaplain in a police department, if that law enforcement officer speaks with you, it goes on their permanent record that they’ve spoken to somebody about their issues. Everything’s documented. If you, if you speak with us, it’s private and it’s not on your record. So it’s an external source. But see, most of these guys that are, that are in these, these organizations like ours, USLEO, are not there for the counseling and the helping. They’re just in there for the charity and donations. But we’re in there to help get you through. But, but it’s private. And the one thing that’s cool about our organization is it’s 501(c)(3) so there’s no fees. So if you want to make a donation, like I tell guys all the time, you know, if you want to, we don’t charge you anything, but if you want to donate, that’s up to you. But anything you donate is all tax deductible anyway, support the cause. You want to give 10 bucks, it’s fine. I’m not going to tell you I’m not going to help you. I’m not here for the money. I’m here to help you. I can’t put a dollar sign in your life. So whatever it takes, I believe that God has given us a gift and an avenue here that I believe that can be very beneficial to all the departments in the nation. Just be just the very thing that very passionate we carry. You know what we have, we want to give.

Brad Caruso:
If I were to donate to you, how do you, what’s the best way to donate to you?

John Natale:
Right through our site.

Brad Caruso:
Through the website?

John Natale:
Yeah, just USLEO.org.

Brad Caruso:
USLEO.org.

John Natale:
Yup. United States Law Enforcement Organization.

Brad Caruso:
I saw you had some merchandise up there too. Maybe even like the bracelet you’re wearing.

John Natale:
I’ve got bracelets, I’ve got car magnets, I’ve got shirts, and those are really cool. And it’s supposed to be amazing how God put it all together. It’s just a team of people that just helped us. I’m so proud of it because you know, it’s just a, it’s a super critical area right now. It’s a such a critical sensitive area in the nation. I believe that our organization can really be that bridge.

Brad Caruso:
Yeah, I see that too. I think. I think one of the, one of the biggest areas that will make a positive impact on society itself is just everybody understanding the role that police play and the role that the community with the police and just knowing that we’re all on the same side.

Brad Caruso:
Hey warriors, thanks for tuning in. On the next episode of Civic Warriors, we’ll talk with Bill Hagaman CEO and Managing Partner of Withum about creating a culture of philanthropy within a corporation. Make sure to subscribe to Civic Warriors and thanks for all your support. Have a great day.

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