Nineteen years in the Air Force, now a First Sergeant and a United Stated Police Officer, Becky Spedaliere, a NJ native known as “Speedy”, has embodied the terms resilience and service in everything she does. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I joined the Air Force right after high school, but I knew I wanted to help people more,” Becky states how she was lead to becoming a police officer. Due to her years of experience in the Air Force, Becky has had plenty of training in how to respond to crisis. However, responding to COVID-19 was a complete new experience for Becky as a first responder.
“My experience with COVID-19 has been very stressful, but it’s different because I’m not the only one, the entire world is stressed out,” Becky explains how COVID-19 has affected her. As a First Sergeant, Becky is a leader to an entire team of people, “It’s up to me to make sure my team is okay, when people test positive I want to ensure they have everything they need.” Becky recognized the grief that each person has been experiencing and took her care a step further by connecting people to necessary resources, for both physical and mental health, to ensure everyone was getting the best care and support they need during this unprecedented time.
As a police officer, Becky also had to respond to many different calls, “It was nerve racking to respond to calls because you didn’t know if you were being exposed to COVID or not.” The uncertainty and fear of getting COVID and possibly transmitting it to a loved one is something we are all familiar with, however Becky did not let that stop her from showing up and serving others. In between taking care of her team as a first sergeant and responding to calls as a police officer, Becky also ensured that people in her community were taken care of as well. She would food shop for those who were unable to leave their homes and provide emotional support and connection to those who have to isolate.
Over the years, Becky has allowed her passion for helping others turn into her purpose. “I have been trained as a leader. I have to show people how to be strong and try my best to motivate them,” Becky explains how she has been able to do it all during a time where it can be so easy to get caught up in the negativity. Becky recognizes that in order to be a leader she needs different outlets in order to take care of her own well-being. Becky reports that she volunteers with different nonprofit organizations to advocate for mental health, “I have seen people battle with mental health, including myself and if telling my story can help one person then it is worth it.” Becky’s passion for advocating for mental health lead her to posting monthly YouTube videos of her raising awareness of the impacts of mental illness. She offers not only her own support but challenges others to be advocates as well.
Even as an advocate, Becky still makes time to do things that help her cope and process, especially during COVID. Becky was able to find many positives during this time, “If it wasn’t for COVID, I probably would not have taken the time to go back and get my bachelor’s degree.” Now finishing up her bachelor’s degree and moving onto her Master’s degree, Becky has not only cultivated her love for learning by going back to school, but also by getting into a new hobby. “During the pandemic I started to fish. There is a science behind it which made learning the new hobby more enjoyable. I also love the connection it brings to nature and others.”
When asked what piece of advice she wanted to give to other first responders experiencing the impact of COVID Becky stated, “We all know that every single person is struggling, when we are in that first responder position we are putting ourselves at risk for others. That can be damaging and stressful. Know when to take a knee. Know when to say I need a mental health day. It’s needed and it’s encouraged.” Just like Becky, we recognize the need for support as first responders. The RISE Team is here to support you. If you or someone you know is a first responder or a family member of a first responder we are available 7 days a week from 8am-8pm by email or phone at 833-416-8773. We are all being affected by COVID, let’s allow Becky to inspire us by reaching out for support in order to continue providing support to others.