To whom this may concern,
In February 2018 I admitted myself into the Deer Hollow Recovery & Wellness Program after being highly involved in 5 officer-involved shootings within two months. I’ve been a police officer for a little over four years and currently work in Washington State. I heard about Deer Hollow after one of our officers and good friend of mine admitted himself after a shooting we had. He came back a completely different person, and I had never seen him smile as much as he did before he went into Deer Hollow.
I told myself that was where I wanted to be again, and I knew I was going to need help getting there. I told my friend I wanted to go to Deer Hollow and get help. The next day I got a call from Deer Hollow’s admitting staff, who asked me my story, and within the next week my flight was booked, and I was off to Utah. As I got to the residential facility, I walked into this giant four-story home at the top of a snow-covered mountain with the attitude of “I’m just going to do my 30 and get out of here”. I had the mindset that I wasn’t going to make any friends, and I wasn’t going to get close to anyone, but I was so wrong.
I walked in being judgemental because I was going to be sharing this massive house with a bunch of druggies and alcoholics. I spent my first night alone, and the next day they told me I was getting a roommate who was coming out of detox. I instantly thought “this chick better not steal my shit.” I saw people who did drugs as less than me and that it was their fault for getting themselves into the position they were in, but I got put in my place after hearing my roommates story. The things she has gone through in her life that caused her to start drugs and continue to do the drugs, so she didn’t have to feel the pain and suffering she went through in the past opened my eye. That’s when it hit me; she’s just like me. She went through all these traumas but went a different path than me on how to handle it. It made me think in a different perspective of how I view people who do drugs or alcohol, especially at work. I came out of Deer Hollow with a whole new look on life and a whole new way of treating people at work. Making sure they’re given the compassion they deserve because I have no idea what has happened in their life or what caused them to go down this path. Making sure no one else treats these poor people like crap just because their only outlets they found were drugs or alcohol. These people are human too, and they need help more than anyone else. I left Deer Hollow promising to make a difference and lead the way of how everyone should be treated when he or she deserves it. I made the promise never to go back to that negativity and live a happier lifestyle.
I walked out of that house gaining my life back and the tools to continue it. I gained lifelong friends, and my roommate became my best friend I’ll hold close to my heart for the rest of my life. I got through the emotional pain I have been holding onto and with help concurred one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. My life has been forever changed for the better personally and professionally. Deer Hollow saved my life, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunities I was given. As a police officer or first responder the stigma is if we ask for help we are weak, but asking for help is the most courageous thing anyone can admit to.
I’d refer anyone who is a first responder to get the amazing experience I got from Deer Hollow. Their clinical staff is incredible, and everyone involved in the facility genuinely knows what they are doing on how to help people gain control of their lives again. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and when you do go to the best.
Officer Sarah A. Dexter
Yakima Police Department