Linebacker. Competitive powerlifter. Police officer.
And the question is: What are three things not on a list for what anyone might envision as a chaplain. But that's exactly who Matt Domyancic is... and more. He's a man who's worked patrol, SWAT, and as a full-time police academy instructor, a Wellness Coordinator for his agency - integrating sports nutrition, strength, and conditioning, stress management, combatives-and-scenario training regarding officers as tactical athletes - as well as collegiate strength coach at Yale and Georgetown Universities. All while being a full-time police officer.
You might think Domyancic had enough on his plate and his resume, but he strived for more. Not only has he enriched his life through academic education - achieving his MS in Forensic Science (under Dr. Henry Lee) and Sport Psychology, he also fulfilled his quest for a spiritual education with a MA in Pastoral Theology. Little did he know at the time how that spiritual training would guide him later.
Matt's career in Law Enforcement abruptly ended eleven years ago with a devastating medical retirement. In an interview on the Blue Family Unity Show, Matt shared the emotional and physical challenges he faced.
So, here's the thing. I have the tools, I've been a health nut my whole life - eating healthy since s6th/ 7th grade, working out. Nobody taught me, but I was already journaling on my own in high school. I was dabbling in meditation in high school, but definitely when I got to college I eventually deep dived into meditation, into my spiritual and religious life. I had mentors and elders and I had all kinds of tools in a whole lifetime of practicing self regulation/stress management/taking care of myself and seeking help and mentors. Even then, with all the tools, a medical retirement - abruptly leaving the profession that you love, and your identity, and your fellowship, your community - was heartbreaking, on top of having a ton of medical issues. So, yeah. Dark painful times and I don't want to give it up. Like, you have a take home car, and a big department with all kinds of toys for swat, and I was going to get to, you know, continue as a Police Academy instructor but also do swat. It was going to be like dream job - teach people how to lift and fight and shoot and go out with your swat buddies. So, yeah. It was devastating.
Domyancic went on to explain the the failings of the administrative system in policing when it comes to medical retirements.
People don't know how stressful [getting a medical retirement is] unless you end up needing a medical retirement or you need medical care through workers comp. I mean, I just got back from a conference, Wounded Blue. You hear the stories. You can be shot in the head or run over as a cop, and you may not get a medical retirement - people don't know that - or you may not get the surgeries you need in a prompt manner.
As if that isn't disheartening enough, Matt details how detrimental actual care given to wounded officers really is.
I was on so many medications from these work comp doctors. Very much like the VA and other cops and firemen. You go and they're gonna give you opiates, muscle relaxers, benzos, sleep meds, psych meds. You know what this stuff is, and you're a veteran, a cop or a fireman that's trying to live healthy. And we're supposed to be clearheaded, and all of the addictive, toxic prescription drugs are what they will give the first responders and our nation's warriors.
Domyancic sought out the help of a DC area psychiatric who incorporated things like yoga, meditation physical therapy, and a nutritionist in her psychiatry office. Fortunately for him, his workers compensation allowed for it for a time. Eventually, his doctor recommended he move far from DC and relocate to L.A., where the types of treatment he sought were more readily available. At first, he balked.
She called me in on a Saturday and said I want you to move to Los Angeles. She knew I wanted to do it more holistically, like she did in her office. So, she said I want you to move to L.A., I don't want you to hang out with jocks, cops, or military people because you need to learn to let go. I told her she was nuts. I said D.C. is crowded, expensive, horrible traffic, and extremely political... and you want me to move to Los Angeles? But I did and it worked out because I did find what's called functional and integrative doctors.
Even as Matt healed both physically and emotionally, his love and passion for helping his brothers and sisters in Blue never diminished. Using his theology training and vast understanding of police life and psyche, he began volunteering as a chaplain and peer support for police agencies in Los Angeles, as well as for nonprofits that support police officers in crisis, as well as those that are injured and disabled.
Today, Matt Domyancic is known as the Tactical Chaplain, who work - which also includes speaking engagements and more - is entirely volunteer. If you would like to help Matt in his noble mission to better the lives of first responders across the country, visit his website HERE and consider donating, supporting or contributing.
If you'd like to help fight the "Defund the Police" agenda, consider donating to Law Enforcement Today's national campaign: REfund the Police.
Elsa Kurt is a multi-genre author, speaker & brand creator ofBlue Family Apparel & Igoodhuman, as well as the producer & host of the Blue Family Unity Show on Right America Media. Her book, Welcome to the Family (Life Behind the Thin Blue Line) has been called the "must have survival guide for new LEO spouses."