I have the honor and privilege of being a volunteer Mental Health Resources liaison for a non-profit organization called: Frontline Freedom. It was founded by David Brown (Frontline Freedom – President) and Josh Eldridge (Frontline Freedom – Operations). They both have 10+ years of law enforcement experience with the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Note: I am not a first responder. I served in the U.S. Army for 22 years and retired in 2019. However, I am a member of a First Responder Subcommittee and the Tri-State Peer Support Team.
Frontline Freedom is a 5013c non-profit organization offering adventure therapy for frontline heroes experiencing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression.
What We Do:
Provide adventure therapy opportunities for those struggling with Depression, Anxiety, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Who We Serve:
We serve all current and retired First Responders. Including, but not limited to:
- Law Enforcement Officers
- Corrections Officers
- Fire Fighters
- Paramedics /EMS / EMT
- Healthcare Workers
- 911 Call Takers / Dispatch Personnel
How We Serve:
We host four (4), 3-day expense-free backpacking trips and four (4) 2-day expense-free backpacking trips per year. In addition, we offer four (4) fly-fishing trips per year for those unable to meet the physical demands of backcountry hiking.
During each trip, we connect you with experienced First Responders who understand the intricacies of mental health. You will begin to build a network of other First Responders through the task orientation process of Adventure Therapy.
We do not directly provide counseling. However, we will gladly share resources to assist you in finding the mental health professional that you deem beneficial.
“Being in nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality.”– University of Minnesota, Earl E. Bakken Center
In 2019, 189 Police Officers and Fire Fighters lost their lives in the line of duty. Sadly, 358 lost their lives as a result of suicide during the same time frame.
Most people will face a significant traumatic event one or two times. Our First Responders are exposed to major traumatic events multiple times per month. Continued exposure to traumatic events has been shown to have a significant negative impact on mental health.
Research has shown that Adventure Therapy programs can reduce anxiety, tension, and other symptoms relating to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Frontline Freedom Podcasts
Category: Mental Health
Episode 022 | Friendships and Loneliness – Frontline Freedom – Adventure Therapy
- Episode 022 | Friendships and Loneliness
- Episode 021 | Goal Setting – You’re Not Done
- Episode 020 | On Productivity and Motivation
- Episode 019 | How we can help each other by checking in.
- Episode 018 | Our identity, Our Titles, Our Leaders
- Episode 017 | What do you allow the job to take from you?
- Episode 016 | Backpacking and Personal Challenges
- Episode 015 | How Misery Impacts Happiness
- Episode 014 | Frontline Freedom Podcas – Chief Joe Kitchen
- Episode 013 | Frontline Freedom Podcast – Trip Planning
In my “Veteran Shares Story of Dealing with PTSD while Serving” post, I referenced these important things to consider about mental health:
- 1 and 5 people will have a mental illness at some point in their life. (CDC)
- 1 and 25 have a serious mental illness (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.) (CDC)
- 41% of people with a mental illness use mental health services in any given year. (National Council for Behavioral Health)
- The effects of mental illness can be temporary or long-lasting. (Mayo Clinic)
- Mental health stigma is an issue because of various reasons:
- People make jokes about it.
- People downplay it.
- For first responders, the old-school myth: “Asking for help is a sign of weakness.”
- People exaggerate by spreading false information like, “If your employer knows about your mental illness, your career is over.” The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees from discrimination based on a disability – including mental illnesses like depression or anxiety.
Frontline Freedom Donations: All money raised during this campaign will go directly towards our startup fees. With any venture, the beginning is the most financially difficult. Monies raised will be spent on providing essential outdoor survival gear for our adventure therapy trips. Items include backpacks, water filtration, tents, sleeping bags/pads as well as mandatory items such as insurance, and permit fees.
Thank you for your willingness to help our first responders. As always, Frontline Freedom is a 100% volunteer-based organization. All donations go directly to sustaining operations.