When most of us go to work, we know what to expect. We know how our days will go, who we will see, what time we get off, and for the most part feel safe in our environment. The careers of our military and first responders are intense and unpredictable on almost a daily basis. For active-duty military, they participate in rigorous training, work to be in the best physical condition, and are on call for war and disasters. For law enforcement, they respond to emergencies, handle all crimes ranging from traffic stops to homicide, and risk their lives to serve and protect the community. For firefighters and fire service members, they provide emergency medical services (EMS), respond to accidents, and fight dangerous fires. All are exposed to death, pain, loss, injuries, threats to safety, long hours, and more. Their job is to show up on the worst day of people’s lives to help or defend our county. This help and defense often comes with a cost. This cost is the toll it takes on their physical and mental health.
When someone has an injury or physical health condition, we are aware of the pain it creates. However, there are wounds and injuries that are more painful, and this often lies within. Due to experiencing traumatic events on the job, military and first responders are at a higher risk than the general population to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide. These inner wounds are not always visible because they still show up to do their job and remain strong and efficient in some of the toughest situations. Additionally, they often do not seek out help due to stigma and perception that they should always be strong and resilient. Considering they are there in times of need, it is important we support their services and understand the complexities of their career. Next time you see a first responder or military member say a kind work, give a wave, or even a thank you for the services they provide to keep our community safe.
If you are a military member, veteran, or first responder reading this, remember asking for help does not make you weak, it makes you strong. If you or someone you know may benefit from services, give us a call. Thank you for all you do.
By: Sheena Slack
LSCSW, LCAC, LCSW, CRAADC, SAP