Meet Ryan Moore
Story Written by Ashley Orzel
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Concerned 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.” 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.”
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 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.
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.
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.