Bulletproof Spirit – Emotional Survival and Wellness Strategies

Comprehensive, Career-Long Emotional Survival and Wellness Education and Development Workshop for All Public Safety Personnel

8 hrs. of Certified Continuing Education

Course Overview 

“Bulletproof Spirit – Emotional Survival and Wellness Strategies” will provide essential emotional intelligence and wellness information to promote officer survivability and protection against the many adverse effects of the profession. Suicide is the #1 cause of officer death with another estimated 120,000 (nearly 1 in 5) working with PTSD.  Students will learn tactical emotional intelligence techniques, effective methods to process stress, overcome trauma, proactive strategies to protect and heal their spirit to maintain mental – emotional – and physical fitness, and ways to maintain their motivation and professionalism while serving to protect and give life to others with compassion, integrity, and good health.

Course Objectives

Upon the successful completion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Access personal style and emotional intelligence style.
  2. Understand what PTSD is and effective ways to mitigate its effects.
  3. Understand how the job is inherently toxic and can significantly affect your. health and wellness,your relationships, and the quality of your life.
  4. Identify the 9 warning signs that the job has adversely affected you.
  5. Identify over 20 proactive emotional survival and wellness strategies.
  6. Identify ways to promote emotional survival among your colleagues, your agency, and within yourself.
  7. Identify ways to incorporate emotional intelligence techniques for personal and professional success.  


For the past twenty-five years, Captain Dan Willis has been a police officer for the La Mesa Police Department near San Diego, California. He has served as homicide detective, SWAT commander, and instructor for the San Diego Public Safety Institute, the county’s police academy, where he provides emotional-survival training. He lives in San Diego with his wife and two stepsons.


Sheriff (Retired) Ray Nash began his law enforcement career as a police dispatcher while still in high school. He has since served in law enforcement for over 34 years and brings a wide range of experience to the profession. After serving as a reserve officer with the Irmo Police Department in South Carolina, Ray joined the force full time in 1981, working through the ranks to become Chief of Police in 1983 at age 23. He served the next two years on the training staff of the Institute of Police Technology and Management at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.  In 1987, Ray became Chief of the Summerville, SC Police Department where he served until 1994. During this time, Summerville was recognized for its outstanding community policing initiative. After leaving Summerville, Ray served as a consultant to law enforcement agencies nationwide primarily in the areas of community oriented policing and leadership skills. Ray began serving as Sheriff of Dorchester County in 1997.  Ray developed a character-based leadership program called Police Dynamics and founded the Police Dynamics Institute. Agencies throughout the U.S. and overseas have adopted the program and are reporting great success in fighting crime and improving officer performance. Leaders from around the world looked to the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office and the principles of Police Dynamics for answers to the difficult problems faced by law enforcement.  He is a Professional Mentor to the Ministry of the Interior in Afghanistan, and now as a Police Program Adviser for the US Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement at the US Embassy in Kabul. His most current assignment is serving as the Rule of Law Coordinator for the International Police Coordination Board Secretariat. He holds an A.S. in Criminal Justice and a B.S. in Adult Education (workforce development) from Southern Illinois University and a MS in Criminal Justice Administration.

Select Evaluations

Upon the successful completion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, October 2016 
  2. Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office, October 2016

Book Awards

  • image19 Annual Multiple Sclerosis Books for a Better Life award – New York City (2015)
  • Al Cole’s People of Distinction Humanitarian Award – Washington, D.C. (2016)

Upcoming Events

There are no upcoming events at this time.


Kevin Gilmartin, Ph.D. Author of “Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement 

This book would be a valuable asset to any first responder, clinician, or peer support perso working with first responders.

Assistant Chief of Police Shelley Zimmerman—San Diego Police Department

After over 30 years in law enforcement, I have witnessed far too many times the emotional damage a career as a first responder can have. “Healing Our Heroes” details practical steps that are not only effective, but essential to help protect and insure the wellness of those that serve. This book is a must read for all first responders and their families—the wellness and emotional survival for these heroes depends upon it, as well as the safety of our communities.  Shelley Zimmerman, Assistant Chief of Police, San Diego Police Department

Robert Douglas, Jr., Executive Director National Police Suicide Foundation

If there was ever a time in history where we need the answers to address critical emotional survival issues of our emergency first responders it is now! Issues of saving marriages, careers, and lives within our emergency first responder professions are everyone’s responsibility within our ranks. A great first step would be to read and immediate Captain Dan Willis’ recommendations in his book called “Healing Our Heroes”. I have read many publications dealing with the emotional and psychological issues of our emergency first responders over the past 25 years, but very few were as “passionate” and “informative” as Healing Our Heroes. This is a must read for all first responders and their families, their leadership, supervisors, chaplains, along with clinical professionals that are seeking answers to the difficult issues that they are experiencing within their agency. Robert E. Douglas, Jr., Executive Director, National Police Suicide Foundation, Inc.

Sara Gilman, MFT Psychotherapist, President: Coherence Associates, Inc.

Captain Willis’ “Healing Our Heroes”:  The First Responder’s 10 Essential Survival Keys for mind, Body, and Spirit” brings together the most important elements of psychological health for every first responder. After over 25 years as a Psychotherapist who specializes in working with first responders, I found this guidebook to be clear, compassionate and to the point. This is an excellent resource for the newest Academy graduate and for the long time Veteran. Coming from his vast experience in the field, Captain Willis conveys the importance of health, wellness and how departments can support their staff, as well as openly explains the hazards of the job and how to maintain career peak performance. This book is now a first choice for all the emergency first responders I work with. Sara Gilman, MFT President, Coherence Associates, Inc. 

Nick Popaditch, Retired Marine Gunnery Sgt. and Author

Captain Dan Willis defines the dire necessity for coping strategies through dramatic, first-hand accounts. He tells it real and through the eyes of an officer on the street as well as the perils of failure to assign meaning and survival techniques to these experiences. Through Captain Willis’ 10 keys to survival, he instructs a career and life-long method to shield the spirit and achieve wellness of mind, body, and soul. Not only essential knowledge for all emergency first responders, but also for families and those who support these brave individuals who protect and defend us every day. Nick Popaditch, Former Marine Gunnery Sergeant and author of “Once a Marine: An Iraq War Tank Commander’s Inspirational Memoir of Combat, Courage, and Recovery”, and “The Ultimate Marine Recruit Training Guidebook.” Popaditch serves on the boards of multiple organizations advancing the care of wounded veterans and their families.

Catherine Butler, Ed.D, MFT, Emergency First Responder Psychologist

Captain Willis has written a practical, extremely useful, and important guide for first responders everywhere. “Healing Our Heroes” is a vital resource for every first responder, care-giver, and agency manager. This book offers the essential keys for preparation for trauma, protection, and healing for all those devoted to public safety.Catherine Butler, Ed.D, MFT, Emergency First Responder Psychologist

Bobby Smith, Ph.D., Former Louisiana State Trooper and Author

As I read “Healing Our Heroes” I found it difficult to lay it down. Captain Willis presented the truth that “It’s alright for the helper to ask for help” in a manner that proved to be thought-provoking and highly informative.

Captain Willis utilizes real-life stories from the warriors who have walked through the valley. His work emphasizes the significance of “wellness encompassing the mind, body, spirit”; and he reminds us that it is vital to not only nurture but to be nurtured as well. Be prepared to honestly look at yourself in the mirror and determine if you possess a “bulletproof soul”. Bobby Smith, Ph.D., author of “Visions of Courage,”The Will to Survive: A Mental and Emotional Guide for Law Enforcement Professionals and the People Who Love Them,” and “What’s in Your Heart Comes Out of Your Mouth.”

Nancy Bohl-Penrod, Ph.d., Founder of the Counseling Team International, First Responder Trauma Expert

First responders typically do not understand the potentially devastating extent of the impact their chosen professions can have upon their minds, bodies, spirits, health, and families. “Healing Our Heroes” provides an essential yet practical guide for all those who serve to enable them to live and serve in health and wellness. Nancy Bohl-Penrod, Ph.d.

Clarke Paris, retired Las Vegas Metro Police Sergeant and author of “My Life for Your Life”; President: The Pain Behind the Badge Training LLC/ Creator-Producer “The Pain Behind the Badge”

“Healing Our Heroes” exposes the silent dangers and sometimes killers, of many of our first responder heroes. It exposes first responders in a realistic, dynamic, and compassionate way. The first responder job is the most psychologically dangerous job in the world. PTSD, Depression and Cumulative Stress kill more first responders each year than do assailants. This book is a step towards changing this prevalent danger; it shows that any struggling first responder is not alone.

Captain Dan Willis has taken his decades of law enforcement experience and put into words what will save first responder’s lives. Read this book and think about the good people who wear the badge and the terribly inhumane things they experience. “Healing Our Heroes” is a book that will help to heal first responders and help them to find purpose and happiness once again. It was an honor to endorse this book. It WILL save lives.

Dave Grossman: US Army Lt. col (retired) Author of Bulletproof Mind and Warrior Mindset

An excellent life-saving book. The tragic psychological impact of traumatic events can be avoided and prevented, and this book is a powerful and effective illumination of these vital methodologies.

Dennis Smith, founder of Emergencyscene.com

“Bulletproof Spirit” should be given to every new recruit in police and fire organizations, and indeed to all first responders who work in the sad and sometimes ugly realities found in the worlds of law enforcement and firefighting. We bring our emergencies home whether we want to or not, and this book makes us better prepared to be whole and healthy in our lives with our families and in their lives with us.

Anna Jedrziewski, Retailing insight

Written from the heart (and from the trenches), this book is direct, passionate, and insightful. Willis discusses the role of faith in service, peer and family support, the basics of wellness protocols, and treating stress disorders.

Michael J. Asken, Police Performance Psychologist – Author of “MindSighting: Mental Toughness Skills for Police Officers in High stress Situations”

Any police professional with a serious commitment to understanding and mitigating the professional and personal stresses of a police career knows well the names of Violanti, Kirschman, Gilmartin, and Grossman. The name of Captain Dan Willis can now be added to this respected list of leaders in police officer health and wellness. In “Bulletproof Spirit”, Captain Willis successfully combines aspects of science, spirituality, and his person experience to provide pragmatic approaches to individual officers and police organizations to maximize their health and longevity in their police careers. If you are a police officer facing the challenges of stress in your life and career (and all officers are), “Bulletproof Spirit” is an important and useful read.

2016 Workshops

  • February 2, 2016 – Dinuba PD (2 classes)
  • February 3, 2016 – CAPTO (POST Certified) Visalia CA
  • March 7-10 – International Academy of Public Safety – filming for their online Credible Leadership course
  • March 15 – San Diego Sheriff’s Department
  • March 16 – Ca Police Chief’s Association annual conference – Ontario CA
  • March 23 – Oakland Michigan Police Academy
  • April 21 – Indianapolis, Indiana
  • April 29 – May: SDSO Detentions (8 presentations)
  • May 5 – San Diego Juv. Institutions Academy – Probation
  • May 11 – Shell Beach, CA PD
  • June 25 – St. Louis, MO
  • July 11 – San Francisco, CA Police

2014 – 2015 Workshops

  • 10-12, 2014 California Peer Support Association Annual Conference, Ventura, Ca
  • February 4, 2015 Olathe – Johnson County, Kansas 
  • February 11, 2015 Training at Confidential Recovery, San Diego
  • March 4, 2015 Fontana/ Orange County PD
  • March 11, 2015 La Mesa Rotary Club presentation
  • March 12, 1015 San Diego Mystery Book Club presentation
  • March 16-18, 2015 Canton, Michigan Bloomfield Township, Michigan (Fire, EMT’s, police)
  • April 14, 2015 Escondido PD
  • April 28, 2015 San Diego Health and Human Services presentation
  • April 29, 2015 Orange County Probation training
  • May 11-15, 2015 El Cajon PD (ECPD is purchasing 120 books for entire Department) – 5 presentations
  • May 21, 2015 San Diego County of Mental Health presentation
  • June 15, 2015 SD Regional Training Center
  • June 17-18, 2015 Ukiah, Ca Police (4 presentations, including one to spouses of officers)
  • June 26, 2015 E.R.T. Annual Training Conference – San Diego
  • July 11-13, 2015 FBI NA Annual Training Conference – Seattle WA
  • July 21-23, 2015 North Miami, Fl. PD (6 classes)
  • July 29, 2015 Irwindale, Los Angeles CA – COPS Region 10
  • August 6, 2015 Federal Court Services, Long Beach
  • August 11, 2015 University of San Diego – Police
  • August 20, 2015 San Diego County Probation (2 classes)
  • August 21, 2015 San Diego Sheriff’s Department – Basic Peer Support
  • August 22, 2015 Book signing/ presentation at Phoenix University
  • August 23, 2015 20th Annual International Summit on Violence, San Diego
  • August 26, 2015 San Bernardino, CA Police
  • August 31, 2015 San Diego County Federal Probation Officers, Temecula CA
  • September 4, 2015 San Diego County Probation (2 classes)
  • October 1, 2015 San Diego County Probation (2 classes)
  • October 5, 2015 LEIU 20/20 Beverly Hills
  • October 20, 2015 San Diego County Probation (2 classes)
  • October 28-29, 2015 Hobbs, New Mexico police (2 classes)
  • November 1-3, 2015 Nevada Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs Assoc annual conference
  • November 5, 2015 San Diego FBI
  • November 12-15, 2015 Dallas, TX area for C.O.P.S. Annual National Conference
  • November 16, 2015 Pomona Police Department
  • November 20, 2015 El Centro PD – Counseling Team
  • December 9, 2015 Carlsbad Police
  • December 15, 2015 San Diego County Wellness Group