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From SWAT to Sit

Updated: Nov 2, 2019

Sometimes careers take an unexpected turn.

Ed Morales, Gilbert police officer and former SWAT team member and U.S. Marine, spent most of his career embedded in highly dangerous, adrenaline-fueled, critical situations. He was professionally successful and trusted by his peers and superiors to get the job done.

But over time he noticed his health and personal relationships deteriorate. He describes barely being able to move when he got out of bed in the morning, his muscles and back were so sore; he had to develop a special routine to shuffle his way to the shower where the steam helped him stand upright. Others perceived him as tough and in control, but Ed was increasingly depressed and anxious. He was often angry and distant from loved ones. He couldn’t sleep and felt his most important relationships, with others and with himself, slipping away.

Ed turned to martial arts and yoga to help heal his body. In the process, he discovered tools and teachers that helped heal his mind too. Ed even spent a month in Nepal, trekking 200 miles in the Himalayas and visiting Tibetan monasteries on the way.

Overwhelmed by the positive impact he was experiencing, Ed was deeply inspired to share these tools with his colleagues. He enrolled in graduate school for a master’s degree in social work and proposed a new role at Gilbert Police Department. He is now the Peer Support and Wellness Coordinator, where he is charged with supporting the emotional, social and mental well-being of his colleagues.

Despite the significant traumas they encounter regularly, first responders may be especially hesitant to admit vulnerability or ask for help. Ed is working to change that. He shares his personal story and has implemented many practical resources, including... a spectacular mindfulness room (!), which is always available to employees. He also adopted Cora, a heart-warming therapy dog, who comes to work with him every day.

I have so much admiration for Ed and for the Gilbert Police Department that has given him so much support to create a healthier workplace for his colleagues.

Thank you for being an incredible example for our community!

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