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Fire Captain Phil's Battle With Alcoholism Creates Unexpected Connection

From episode: Alcohol Recovery For First Responders

So you both have some stuff you want to discuss today. And we really just want you to roll into it and we'll stop you and ask you questions along the way. So whichever one wants to start, go ahead. I feel like Phil, I want you to be able to share what you want to be able to share. Sure. I too, I think where I'm at today in my life and just having been afforded the opportunity to even be here in the presence of this woman is solely of because our paths and our what we've gone through, the level of trauma with the loss of Corey and this woman and hearing her story and share her perception on everything and the growth that she is an individual experience. And in light of that, it's always been something that was attracted, like not even attracted just all inspiring to me, honestly. And so when we talk of our relationship and how it started, it's just a sincere respect for this woman. And I'm able to do that today because the trauma I went through, I've battled alcoholism. They have experienced a level of loss, not like she's experienced, but very similar. And my alcoholism and battling that addiction was the most darkest and alone I've ever been in my life. Coming through that and being here today to share that story, like I said, very different paths to get where we are as individuals, but a very mutual respect and understanding of what we both have gone through. I guess, I don't know, alcoholism, I guess that's my real purpose of being here today. I guess I should start off that I joined the fire service probably already being an alcoholic, you know, and being exposed to what we see in this job, the level of stress, just being a firefighter, the hours away from home, all of it, you know, only contributed to my alcoholic tendencies and fueled my alcohol. Looking back at it now, I'm almost two and a half years sober. I'm able to see how it progressed. It was very subtle, you know, so I just want to say like, you know, I know for me then this is just my story, you know, it's, I was messed up mentally, you know, before coming to this job. So alcohol was the only real solution I ever had in coping, you know, and it worked very well for a while for me until it's in alcohol or allowed me to not deal with reality. It allowed me to escape. It allowed me to just not feel, you know, and so like I said for a very long time, it was very successful. I think a real turning point in kind of preparing for this talk, you know, I put a lot of thinking into, you know, when I truly crossed the line in my, you know, functionality. I was a functional alcohol for a very long time. I achieved a lot of success professionally, personally, you know, I accumulated a lot of things. This job, I want to say like I'm so grateful for the opportunity to do what I get to do for the department that I work for. I love my job. I love the opportunity, you know, and it still to this day affords me a chance to provide in a way that I never really imagined. But, you know, the turning point for me was, I guess, what you wanted to bring down to Yarnell, as far as connection. Yeah. So there's a really significant, interesting part of us knowing each other and our stories. I started dating Corey when the Yarnell fire happened and the Granite Mountain hotshot burnover transpired. And it was the first like real jilting in reality of what can happen in this industry. And it's one of those instances where I remember exactly where I was. I remember how it made me feel. And when I was notified about Corey, the first thing that I asked because of the Granite Mountain hotshot crew, I asked who else was hurt in hopes that no one else was experiencing what I was experiencing. And ironically, Phil was a hotshot at the time and was in route to go fight the Yarnell fire when that burnover happened. And because of that, he was reassigned to put on all the funerals. And from that, he decided to become an honor guard. And through my experience, the honor guard has just another level of honor and respect, obviously, and honor and respect from me, too. So to have a partnership with someone that so intimately understands what I experienced and has it within himself to give back in that capacity is just a whole other level of gratitude for him.

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