Author: Sergeant Mark St.Hilaire
Author’s Email Address: Click Here to Email Mark
Author’s Agency or Organization: Natick Police Department, Natick,MA and the Natick Police Superior Officers Association, Local 82
Author’s Web Site: N/A
May 1, 2011 was a very special day in my life. First, I must congratulate and state how proud I am for the members of our United States Armed Forces and everyone who was involved with the special operations in Pakistan. Once again, these brave men and woman proved to the world that they are extremely disciplined and know how to take care of business. I am grateful for these men and women and to my fellow public safety professionals who keep our families, friends and our communities safe and maintain our free and open society here in the United States. On a more personal note, on May 1, 2011, I had the opportunity to make a return visit to the Savage Road Race hosted by Wellesley P.D. Since I have been working days for the past 4 years, I have not been able to join my fellow members of the Natick Police Chase Team for the various races and fun runs as I would like to do. What made this day very exciting for me was I was joined by my 12 year old daughter, Rose. I have waited a long time for this moment. Over the years, I have admired many other public safety friends who have had the opportunity to run a race with their family members. At this race, several of my co-worker’s wives and parents participated in this event. We were joined by a growing group of young teenage girls that our chase team supports, the Natick Fit Girls who participated in this race with us. Personally this was a dream coming true that my daughter and I were participating in a road race together.
I was concerned for her running the first time in an organized race. My fear reduced as she took off like a deer at the starting line while my co-workers were laughing and joking with me about my concerns. I am grateful to Rose for waiting for me at the half way point as we got to run and walk the last half of the race. She shared with me the importance of pacing yourself so we don’t burn out early in a race. I am proud that she had the ability to coach her Dad to the finish line. (Wink, wink….) Now let me make this clear, I AM A BACK OF THE PACK RUNNER. My goal is to finish the race and have fun especially with the race spectators and volunteers. This is how I set my personal best. These events give me a chance to support a charity and more importantly get together with my co-workers and other public safety peers outside of work to have some fun while establishing new friendships and contacts. I hope you will read the book, EMOTIONAL SURVIVAL FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT: A Guide for Officers and Their Families by Kevin Gilmartin, Ph.D. This book is a fantastic guide for officer wellness. Dr. Gilmartin is a retired police officer who discusses the emotional and physiological effects our career has on us along with maintaining a more positive outlook including suggestions to help us have a healthy career, family life, friendships outside of law enforcement and retirement. I have read the book several times and I have purchased numerous copies for friends and co-workers over the years. I have seen Dr. Gilmartin twice when he has come to the New England area. If you get the opportunity to see him, even if you need to pay, he is worth it. My wife, another co-worker and I saw him live at Portsmouth P.D. in 2009. He made a promise at the beginning of his presentation that he will teach us how to keep our children from becoming a diabetic by the time they are 40 years old. At the conclusion of his presentation, he revealed his advice: TAKE YOUR KIDS OUTSIDE AND DO SOMETHING WITH THEM, GET THEM AWAY FROM THE TELEVISION AND THE COMPUTER GAMES. GO FOR A WALK, BICYCLE OR ANYTHING TO KEEP THEM PHYSICALLY ACTIVE. Having Dr. Gilmartin’s suggestions now in our mind, I hope you will incorporate these suggestions into your own wellness program. Set a healthy example for your family and friends to join you in some physical activities: • Take a walk in the neighborhood, along the beach or a walking trail. • Go for a bicycle ride, play catch, a little volleyball or ultimate Frisbee. • Plan a hike somewhere local and pack a healthy picnic meal to share together. • With the little kids, go to a playground and play hide and seek, chase me or bring a soccer ball to kick around. • Some of the health clubs have programs for young kids and teens that they can attend while you get a work out in. • Encourage them to help you with the yard work or snow shoveling. • Schedule at least 1 meal a day together as a family. Our kids do want eat what we are eating and it is always at the moment we least expect it. Make extra healthy meals and watch the portion sizes. Tell them: Believe it or not, fruit is actually a dessert. Limit the visits to restaurants to once a week (My 7 year old son’s Friday night ritual is the Chicken nugget Happy Meal and the toy). It is more cost effective and you know what we are eating when we prepare our own meals. • Introduce your kids to WATER when they are looking for something to drink.Keep them away from the excess sugars and especially the high fructose corn syrup.
During activities like these, our own family’s emotional and physical wellbeing will improve. These activities give us a chance to connect and check in to see what is going on in their lives and it allows us to open up. Communication is a wonderful thing. We deal professionally with many individuals and families from dysfunctional home lives when we work. When we spend our time together with our own family and participate in a fun activity, this reminds us in our own reflection about how good we do have it and being grateful for the blessings that we continue to receive. This is our own choice to maintain a healthy balance in our careers as a public safety professional. You and I get to make the decision for a healthy, positive and successful outlook for our own lives. Until next time: Keep your eyes open, wear your vest, take care of yourself-your family-your co-workers and your community and stay safe!
Sergeant Mark St.Hilaire is a member of the Natick Police Superior Officers Association, Local 82 in Natick, Massachusetts. He started his career as a campus police officer and he has been a municipal police officer in Massachusetts since 1988. He is a volunteer police peer assistant with the Metro-Boston C.I.S.M. Team. He has secured grant funding and is currently assisting his department to develop a wellness program.