PSA: A free concert for veterans is being held in the name of improving mental health. Please consider donating, click here for more info.
Living out your dream means actively pursuing and realizing the vision you have for your life, irrespective of external limitations or societal expectations. Ultimately, it’s about finding fulfillment, happiness, and a deep sense of purpose by aligning your life with your dreams.
But as a law enforcement officer, service member, or first responder, you don’t have much flexibility. Those professions are built around policy and stifle any creative process you may have.
And for good reason.
Police departments are policy-driven to ensure consistency, fairness, and accountability in their operations. They help define appropriate procedures, behaviors, and responses to various situations, aiming to enhance public safety, protect individual rights, and maintain public trust in the criminal justice system.
There isn’t much room for a creative process in police work. You’ll have to either quit, get a side hustle or wait for retirement. And these five retired LEOs did exactly that. They retired and are now “living their dreams.”
John “Jay” Wiley: Radio Host
John left the Baltimore Police Department as a Sergeant but it wasn’t long before he was “discovered”. He has that traditional radio voice heard on just about every radio station across the world. You know, that fast-talking, smooth, and free of “ums” and “uhs” that all true radio personalities are gifted with. And that’s John “Jay” Wiley.
And he considers himself fortunate.
“I am grateful that I found a career that gives me the same sense of purpose and service that policing did in Baltimore,” John said. “Sometimes I catch myself wondering how I made it from being a street cop in Baltimore, especially on cold winter nights to being a radio personality in paradise. What a long, strange trip it has been.”
One of the reasons John has a calm and steady voice is because he relates it to the lack of “real” stress.
“My radio bosses have said things like, ‘I don’t want you to get stressed out over this’. I tell them this is radio and not life or death, and if no one is shooting at me, it is nowhere near as stressful as being a police officer,” John said.
He acquires some of the best guests in the law enforcement and first responder community. The guests tell tales of true crime and trauma, and John is great at getting guests to truly open up about tough subject.
His radio show is syndicated in over 100 radio stations, reaching millions of listeners and is growing. Check it out at www.LETradio.com and follow his Instagram @letradioshowpodcast
Matt Rendar: Artist
Matt recently retired from NYPD – but he wasn’t your average beat cop. Matt was one of only three sketch artists for New York City, aka Gotham. That’s an impressive feat considering the NYPD has over 37,000 officers.
He played an integral role in helping to solve numerous high-profile cases. Many of these cases included very few leads and seemingly impossible odds. But Matt’s incredible ability to re-create sketches using obscure details from witnesses and others involved, he was able to develop sketches with pinpoint accuracy, helping detectives find suspects and ultimately solving cases.
“I’ve created hundreds of sketches covering crimes such as homicides, rapes, and robberies. Dealing and connecting with victims to help sketch the perpetrators. Cold cases and deceased reconstruction identifications were some of my more rewarding ones to do, helping to give surviving family members closure,” Matt said to LET.
Matt’s artistic ability wasn’t limited to police sketches. He has been creating art on the side for years. As a combat veteran of the U.S. Army, much of his art is inspired by his time in combat zones.
After an honorable career servicing New York City, Matt now serves his customers. He has created hundreds of individual pieces of artwork and posts them to his Etsy Shop. Check out his expansive collection, they make great gifts, or pick something up for yourself. All from his label, Battle Tribe Art.
Dan Corio: Musician
Dan, another NYPD legend, spent his whole law enforcement career with the NYPD. But he’s always had the heart of a lion and never settles for average. During his career with the famed department, Dan applied to and was selected for the elite ESU (emergency services unit) as well as the NYPD SCUBA Team, an even more difficult task.
Members of the SCUBA team spend up to an hour in the city’s typically murky and muddy waters, searching for a variety of items like bodies, evidence, and anything else that comes up.
But now Dan has moved on to the next chapter in life and is pursuing a passion he’s been working on for years – music. In fact, he started playing the guitar at only 10 years old after he watched the movie La Bamba, and has been playing ever since. Most of his music is geared toward the mainstream, but others have a niche message. The song “Hold On” is a moving message about mental health awareness – an all too familiar subject in the LEO profession.
In an exclusive statement to LET, Dan said, “Honestly pursuing music in retirement is a dream following a dream. With the NYPD I got to do things that I never imagined and I loved every second of it! Now it’s pretty much the same. Unknown, challenging, and absolutely worth every hardship.”
Dan has relocated to Nashville, a city known for its incredible music scene. His determination to succeed will surely get him to the big stage. Check him out at www.dancoriomusic.com, and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.
John Crandall: Cornhole Professional
Since retiring as a Correctional Lieutenant, John Crandall found his calling – becoming a professional cornhole player.
But his post-retirement gig goes way beyond playing the beloved backyard BBQ game. Crandall now organizes and hosts cornhole tournaments throughout his home state of New Jersey. His organization, Exit8A Cornhole, is registered through the app Scoreholio.
Scoreholio hosts a variety of common games and sports like billboards and darts. And anyone looking for a cornhole tournament can find Crandall’s group and jump in and play.
And John can really play. He is training and preparing to enter the professional cornhole circuit, as seen on ESPN.
But his mission to play and support cornhole comes from a deeper place; it has become a means to improve mental health for others.
“When covid hit and restrictions were put in place, it played havoc on people with mental health challenges. Cornhole then became wildly successful because it fit with the covid restrictions. I saw firsthand how much it helped people with their mental health,” Crandall told LET.
Crandall continues to support the LEO, 1st responder, and veteran community by monetarily contributing to nonprofit organizations.
“Being able to give back after retirement to those who need it is the real dream,” he said.
Troy Susnis: Actor
Troy spent a career as a police officer in one of America’s most cultured cities; Chicago. Now he’s spending another career in the cultural arts as an actor.
Many people believe acting is easy and simple – but it’s far from that. It requires years of practice, training, and knowledge – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But Troy has it down enough to a point where he has secured numerous roles in television, commercials, and movies… and loves every second of it.
And he wants you to know you can live your dreams, too.
“Having the freedom and time to pursue my acting career without worrying if I could get time off for auditions and classes!” Troy told LET in an exclusive statement. He continued, “My advice is to retire asap. There is a whole world outside waiting to be explored and it’s exciting!”
NOTE: A free concert for veterans is being held in the name of improving mental health. Please consider donating, click here for more info.
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