Insightful Talk with Donovan Heavener: Off-Duty Shooting, PTSD, and the Significance of Support Systems

We never know where life might take us, and Donovan Heavener, a law enforcement veteran of 29 years, is a perfect example of that.

In a recent podcast episode, he shares his fascinating journey into a profession he never dreamed of pursuing.

Together, we explore his passion for making a difference in people's lives and the defining moments that have shaped his career.

A powerful part of our conversation delves into Donovan's off-duty shooting, his struggle with PTSD, and the importance of having a support system.

We also examine the impact of our jobs on our relationships and how Donovan has found purpose and identity beyond his law enforcement career.

Donovan stumbled into law enforcement, never having dreamed of becoming a police officer. He started off as a theater arts major in college and took a job as a parking ticket officer to make ends meet.

Through this experience, he fell in love with the work that law enforcement officers were doing and their ability to make a difference in people's lives.

This passion led him to pursue a career in law enforcement to help others and make a positive impact on his community.

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In his career, Donovan faced many challenges, including an off-duty shooting that left him with PTSD.

He shares how his wife and current therapist have been a great support system and how he learned to cope with his trauma by writing down each traumatic event he could remember.

Donovan also shares how he now talks with recruits about his situation and is working on creating a class for the curriculum for the basic law enforcement academy.

Reflecting on his life, Donovan touches on the importance of family and how relationships can be affected by our jobs.

His shooting experience changed his outlook on life and has impacted his idea of retirement. He believes that having a purpose and staying busy is essential for our mental well-being.

Leaving his law enforcement career after 29 years was an adjustment for Donovan, but he emphasizes the importance of finding one's passion in life and pursuing it.

He also discusses the trend of people leaving the profession and the significance of community and support for first responders.

It's clear that Donovan's journey into law enforcement has shaped his life, and the importance of family cannot be overstated.

He reminds us of the importance of finding our passion in life and staying connected to those who matter most.

His story is a powerful reminder that even the most unexpected paths can lead to life-changing lessons and experiences.

About Donovan Heavener

  • 29 years in LE
  • Worked in Wisconsin and Washington
  • Sits on the Special Olympics Board of Directors
  • Recognized for work in community policing and by school boards for work as an SRO
  • From Washington State

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Episode Chapters

(0:00:00): Law Enforcement & Off-Duty Shooting

(0:11:55): PTSD Recovery Through Special Olympics

(0:23:35): Life Lessons and Self-Reflection

(0:29:20): Finding Purpose and Identity Beyond Work

(0:33:37): Life, Family, and Law Enforcement

(0:39:01): Support First Responders

Episode Chapters with Short Keys

(0:00:00): Law Enforcement & Off-Duty Shooting

Officer Donovan Heavener shares his journey, passion for making a difference, moments of doubt, and why he chose the profession.

(0:11:55): PTSD Recovery Through Special Olympics

Donovan Heavener shares his journey with PTSD, coping strategies, and how he now talks to recruits about his experience.

(0:23:35): Life Lessons and Self-Reflection

Donovan reflects on family, shooting experience, retirement, and purpose, emphasizing the importance of staying busy for mental well-being.

(0:29:20): Finding Purpose and Identity Beyond Work

Donovan Heavener's law enforcement career transition and the importance of finding passion and honest friends are discussed.

(0:33:37): Life, Family, and Law Enforcement

Donovan reflects on his mother's influence, and discusses night shift vs. day shift, donuts with filling vs. without.

(0:39:01): Support First Responders

Donovan Heavener's 29-year journey in and out of law enforcement, adjusting to life after, thoughts on unexpected turns are discussed.