Support for Homeland Heroes

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File:Crash fire rescue exercise DM-SD-00-01394.jpgDid you know that around 38% of Fire Rescue personnel and 32% of Emergency Dispatchers suffer from symptoms of PTSD? Or that every 17 hours a law enforcement officer takes his or her own life? The suicide rate among correctional officers is estimated to be even more than double that rate. These devastating statistics are provided by Serve & Protect’s website.

Serve & Protect is more than just an online presence. It is an organization dedicated to providing emotional, educational and spiritual support to Homeland Heroes (law enforcement, fire/rescue, corrections and emergency dispatch personnel) across the country and around the world. “The emotional trauma of the job, post traumatic stress, depression, and emotional isolation are killers,” says S & P. “Serve & Protect is there to care, help, and listen rooted in experience on the job and a rock solid network of partners and affiliates”.

Senior Chaplain Robert Michaels founded Serve & Protect in 2011. He knows all too well how first responders and criminal justice professionals put their lives on the line and the trauma they witness in the line of duty. Before embarking on his pastoral training, Michaels served for the 229th Military Police Battalion of the Virginia National Guard and as an officer and detective for the Norfolk Police Department. Serve & Protect’s board of directors, advisors and staff are also made up of individuals who have served as homeland heroes. For example, Dr. Melissa Riley, who has extensive experience counseling individuals suffering from PTSD, and other forms of mental illness, has 19 years experience working in fire/rescue.

Serve & Protector offers support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “If you are contemplating suicide, or are in an emotional crisis and need immediate help because of addictions, depression, anger issues, domestic violence, or other significant issues, our 24/7 crisis line is available now,” says the website. The call center averages up to 400 phone calls and 200 e-mails per month demonstrating the number of service personnel who are in need and benefiting from the support.

Additionally, Serve & Protect has 14 chaplains across the country available to meet or talk with first responders who are seeking spiritual and emotional support in their personal and professional lives. The crisis line can also help you find local resources, such as counselors, in your area.

If you are a member of law enforcement, corrections, fire/rescue or emergency dispatch struggling with stress, sadness, isolation or fear, please know that you are not alone. Depression and PTSD do not discriminate and are capable of penetrating the strongest and toughest of individuals.

To contact one of Serve & Protect’s 24/7 Crisis Counselors, call 206-459-3020.
To find out more about their chaplaincy services, call 615-373-8000.

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