Meet Ryan Moore

Story Written by Ashley Orzel

David B canadian armed forces in front of tutor jet
David B canadian armed forces in front of tutor jet

“Before I got help from VTN, I was afraid all the time at work despite having a gun and body armour. Now, I no longer live my life in fear.”

From: B.C.
Surrey RCMP

Ryan Moore is an RCMP police officer in Surrey, BC – Canada’s largest RCMP detachment. He has been at the front line of many major crimes and domestic fire deployments. As a first responder, his routine revolved around going to a crisis, solving the problem, then moving on – over and over, again. But with every experience throughout his service, Ryan realized he left little bits of himself until he was “a shell of a human going through the paces of life, devoid of joy and happiness.” Anger became the main emotion he used to express himself.

shattered glass black and white

His journey to improve his mental health began in a peer-to-peer training course with a group of police officers. The presenter was discussing mental health resources when a 20-year police vet spoke up to share his experience with a mental health emergency. 

“It was the bravest thing I ever saw. As police officers, we envision what Hollywood and the media tells us is going to happen if we get that degree of help. But here is an officer sitting there with a gun and his job, and he was really well adjusted, and that spoke volumes. To see that there is a life after the most extreme possible outcome.” 

Ryan clung to the bravery of that officer who spoke openly about his own challenges. The bravery of that officer would inspire Ryan to not only seek help, but motivate others to do the same with his own story.

“I don’t think I can recover this time”

It wasn’t long after, in October 2021, that he had – what he calls – his “big crash and burn.” After being called out for a job, he broke down in his car. “I cried. I punched the steering wheel. But I went, well, orders are orders and I’m going to follow orders. You’ve got a job to do, go do it. It was the smallest thing, being asked to go do my job. I didn’t think that being called out to a job would set me off, but it did.”

He made it 2 and half minutes away from the station, crying and yelling at the windshield, when he realized, I don’t think I can recover this time. Ryan immediately called his wellness coordinator, Jean-Jacques Jarjoura, and started the process to step away from the force.

“When you go to a regimented-style military training, you learn that no matter what, you’re going to push through and you’re going to be successful. You try to apply that to everything in life. But with something like this, you can’t just push through. You have to get specialised help because your brain just can’t handle it. It’s overwhelming.”
shattered glass black and white

Reaching Out to the VTN

It was nearly Remembrance Day when Ryan went on leave. He connected with Afghanistan veteran Andrew Siwy who shared his experience with mental health and how the Veterans Transition Network (VTN) helped him. After some time and encouragement from Andrew, Ryan reached out to the VTN.

“There is a huge control element that is taken away when you suffer from PTSD. You can’t control your emotions or what stimulates you and what doesn’t, and that’s a very conflicting thing. As First Responders, you control the danger. You control all these elements. And when you suffer through PTSD, suddenly you are out of control. That is a crippling realization.”

VTN was the first resource Ryan contacted for help. After an assessment by the VTN coordinator, he was approved to attend the next course in Alberta.

While expressing concerns about leaving his family in BC for the course, his wife, Sara, immediately jumped in. “Don’t worry, you’re going on that damn program,” she said. That’s when he realized the impact his anger was having on his wife and daughter. “It was really obvious for my wife. It wasn’t obvious to me. For somebody who is suffering, you think everything is fine. But it’s obvious to everyone around you.”

shattered glass black and white

Building Bonds in the Transition Skills Course

Ryan attended VTN’s Transition Skills Course (TSC) in February 2022. He joined a room of Veterans and First Responders at a retreat centre for 5 days. 

Ryan was the only participant planning to return to service and was surprised at the admiration and respect he received from his peers for doing so.

“I became so bonded with these people who were strangers. We walked all different walks of life and served different areas of the globe and had different experiences. VTN made a safe setting so that we could deal with our trauma. So we could learn and listen to each other. This is the first place ever, in my adult life, where I opened my mouth asking a question and another guy went, ‘I want to know more about that too.’”

“I get to go home now”

Ryan learned tools to help navigate his emotions and traumas, and how to redirect his mind. One of the most valuable tools was learning how to reframe the way he talked. “I never anticipated how damaging these – what we consider dark jokes – can be to having our mind open to the message and education that is being conveyed. The smallest things can set you back and set you up for failure.”

On his last day at the TSC, Ryan recalls sitting outside on a bench (in -15, in Alberta) and sitting with this feeling and the words ringing in his head, “I get to go home now.” He realized it wasn’t just physically going home, but emotionally.

Motorcycles in front of royal canadian air force jet

Reconnecting with Family

Since his TSC, Ryan says communication with his family is much better, and he can identify key emotions that appropriately fits with the situation.

He loves taking his daughter to the park – something he couldn’t do alone before out of fear. He describes the moment he first hugged his two-year-old daughter when he came back from the TSC: “It sounds strange, but I felt the love of the hug and the contact and how impactful that is, and realized for two years of her life, I’ve just been going through motions and giving hugs but not knowing how they truly feel.”

He has also been attending comedy shows with Sara, where he now feels present in the experience, living in the energy, and truly enjoying the shows.

“At one point during a comedy show, she noticed I had a massive smile and said, ‘VTN gave me my husband back.’”
Labrador helicopter landing on bell island

Back on the Force

Ryan has also returned to frontline policing with the Surrey RCMP. While it involves deadly force encounters, performing CPR and witnessing traumas, he says his brain can now manage it in a healthy way. He loves coming in to work and has the ability to make tough decisions for society.

“VTN is an opportunity to take control of your situation and your life. It’s the first step. This is an opportunity to be the partner you want to be, be the parent you want to be and be the professional you want to be – and live the life that you want to live. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to your family. VTN gave me my life back. Today, I feel powerful and reborn almost – I take challenges on and I’m excited for each day.”

Motorcycles in front of royal canadian air force jet
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