Why You Should Give Second Chances With Marine Corps Veteran Craig Grossi and Fred

Craig Grossi and Fred, episode 64 of The Verywell Mind Podcast

Verywell / Julie Bang

Every Monday on The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, interviews experts, authors, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, and other inspirational people about the strategies that help them think, feel, and do their best in life.

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Meet Craig Grossi

Craig Grossi is a marine corps veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart. While serving in Afghanistan, he came across Fred, a stray dog.

The two bonded during Craig’s time there. And when Craig’s deployment was up, he decided to bring Fred back to the United States—something that wasn’t allowed. He shares how he got Fred back to the United States and the cross country road trip they took together in his first book, Craig and Fred.

His new book, Second Chances, shares their newest adventure. Craig and Fred spend time with prison inmates who are training service dogs. Craig started a writing group with some of the incarcerated inmates and he quickly learned that many of these men were a lot like him—they’d just made some poor choices that led to their incarceration.

Why Craig Grossi Is Mentally Strong

After his deployment, Craig wanted to be “fine.” He spent time traveling the country and trying to enjoy life again. He even wrote his first book. But, an angry outburst made him realize that he wasn’t fine. And he needed professional help. He reached out to a therapist and began treatment—something that wasn’t easy to do.

His willingness to seek help, share his experience, and help other people are all hallmarks of incredible mental strength.

What You’ll Hear on the Show

  • How Craig knew he needed professional help
  • How he found the courage to seek therapy
  • How to develop compassion for other people
  • Why some people deserve second chances in life and what that really means
  • What Fred has taught Craig about life and relationships
  • How to become accountable for your actions
  • How writing can help you heal old emotional wounds
  • Why it makes sense to connect the dots backwards when good things happen (rather than just reverse engineer the negative things in life)
  • Why it’s okay to give yourself second chances

What You’ll Learn About Mental Health and Mental Strength

Craig talked a lot about how he had certain resources in life that probably kept him from making decisions that might lead to incarceration. He had a good childhood and financial stability, for example. Many of the men who were incarcerated didn’t have those things.

The environment plays a huge role in mental health. If you’re lacking basic necessities or you’re in a toxic environment, your psychological well-being will be affected. 

Sometimes, people think that having mental strength means you should be able to endure anything. But, part of mental strength building often means setting yourself up for success by creating a healthy environment.

Surrounding yourself with supportive people, living in a situation with fewer temptations, and having resources to meet your basic needs are essential to being your best.

Craig made it clear that everyone makes mistakes. And sometimes, people who didn’t have the information, resources, and skills in the past, can do better when we give them what they need.

Quotes From Craig

Craig Grossi

There is always something that you can be grateful for, even if it's just the air in your lungs and the blood in your veins. That's enough to be grateful for.

— Craig Grossi
  • “It's so easy to say, ‘Oh, everything happens for a reason.’ But if you don't do the work to figure out the reason, then you're never going to see the purpose in that mistake.”
  • “I'm just as grateful for the mistakes and the lows in my life as I am the highs now that I've been able to look back and really take stock of it.”
  • “The conditions don't need to be perfect for you to just sit down and write.”
  • “We overcomplicate everything in our heads. But writing is one of those things that can just be so pure. You don't need lessons.”

More About the Podcast

The Verywell Mind Podcast is available across all streaming platforms. If you like the show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.

Reviews and ratings are a great way to encourage other people to listen and help them prioritize their mental health too.

By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.