I grew up in Philadelphia as the eldest of 5, and the only boy. After graduation from High School I joined the USN as an Engineman, sailing the 7 seas. Five years later, I was selected to be a Seabee.
After a few years, my drinking escalated to quite a destructive level and I was 'encouraged' to enter treatment for addiction. Despite the challenges and obstacles while there, I got a lot of what I needed and began my journey of continued sobriety. I entered the substance abuse and addictions field as a para-professional soon thereafter and became full-time after graduating the Navy's Institute for Substance Abuse Studies in 1985.
Since then I have functioned in numerous aspects of the field. While on active duty I was a Treatment Counselor and Program Director, Program Administrator and Instructor/Supervisor of the Navy's Drug and Alcohol Counselor School (NDACS), and Family Programs Counselor. I received my MA in 1989 after obtaining my BS in Sociology/Psychology.
After 20 years in the Navy, I retired and operated a Chemical Dependency (CD) Intensive Outpatient Program, conducted DUI courses, taught college courses, worked as a County Community Development Prevention Specialist and was the CD Treatment Coordinator and Clinical Supervisor in a Psychiatric Hospital. Further, I am the past Director/Clinical Supervisor of the Navy's Drug and Alcohol Counselor School.
Currently, I am the Employee Assistance Program Coordinator/Drug and Alcohol Program Manager/Prevention Specialist for the Sierra Army Depot in Northern California. I enjoy regularly presenting at State Conferences on my top interests: Boundaries, Prevention, Awareness, Burnout, Spirituality, and Death and Dying. Returning from oversees, to my last tour of duty in California, my appetite for something more consistent to my spiritual beliefs lead me to studying Zen. My first morning in Southern Cal found me at Joko Becks San Diego Zen Center. A few months later, I received information of a sitting group closer to where I lived, and was introduced to what eventually became my 'new home,' with Nicolee Jikyo Roshi. She and Jake Gage (Jiyu Roshi) had a home temple model which grew quickly into quite an active Sangha. We incorporated and I took on the role of Board President.
Around that time, especially since I showed an interest in Jukai and Tokudo, I officially became Jikyo Roshi's student, and my training went into second gear. Later, when she asked me to draft a statement as to why I wanted to receive Tokudo, I reflected on that over the next few days, during which I found a pamphlet on my front doorstep from an organization called Compassion in Action - training volunteers who wish to provide a loving presence at the bedside of those who are actively dying - as no one need die alone.
Well, there it went. I got involved with The Twilight Brigade/Compassion in Action providing bedside care, mostly at the local VA, and ended up starting a local chapter, VA Team, became a National Trainer and got to share all of this with my soon to be wife, Carole. This all fed well into my journey of Tokudo.
As I continued my studies with Jikyo Roshi, I also furthered my involvement with end of life care. I completed 2 CPE units and became a part-time Hospice Chaplain, as well as a San Diego VA Adjunct Chaplain (Buddhist). Carole and I were able to bring End of Life Care seminars to Zen Centers and Hospices, and I was better suited to provide competent and user-friendly training to NDACS for both the Spirituality and Grief/Loss seminars.
Relocating to a remote Army base 3 years ago, after a Reduction in Force at NDACS, we have only recently had access to 'typical civilization' moving to Reno, NV in March. We are looking forward to how our practice may unfold into the community in the near future. I truly wish to honor the blessings of the teachings of my teacher, Jikyo Roshi and her teacher, Maezumi Roshi.
My wife, Carole is a Special Education teacher and HHP (Holistic Healthcare Practitioner) has shared much of my lifestyle passions, including being a fellow Zen practitioner, CrossFit athlete, much of the End of Life Care volunteering and training - even becoming a volunteer with my Hospice so she could accompany me on death calls and related Chaplain functions when I could use assistance. Overall, we are enjoying being partners in life, and the icing on the cake is that we do much of it on the Harley.
Together we have an awesome combination of 2 sons, 2 daughters (30-40 years old), 2 grandsons and 2 granddaughters (2 infants, 3 and 7 years old).