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Let's face it, no one, besides another First Responder or Veteran, can possibly understand the horrible things that first responders see on a daily basis. That's really the basis of peer support. Public safety employees are not trusting of individuals outside their peer groups, and often the fear is justified. Do you really want to stress your spouse out with horrible stories? What if your struggle comes out to your boss, and they force you to retire, because they don't understand trauma? How many people that have asked for help have received the response, "Suck it up?" It's little wonder why First Responders have high rates of divorce, alcoholism, and suicide. It seems like no one understands, and you don't want to burden family with your problems. That's where peer support by other First Responders or former First Responders and Veterans comes in. Who better to understand your issues than someone who has been through it? Peer support has been highly successful with veterans groups, and it's starting to gain traction with public safety professionals.
There is also another reality, and that is that there is still a stigma that asking for help is a sign of weakness, and heroes can't afford to be seen as weak. That's why the Peacekeeper Initiative's peer support program takes place outside of the workplace and is completely confidential. We focus on creating a good match between peers and providing a supportive environment through activities to create an opportunity to talk. We are also available to speak by phone if necessary. We do prefer one-on-one interactions though, as this seems to be the most effective.
Peer support is designed to provide sustained, long-term support to public safety personnel and veterans through trained, but nonprofessional active or retired First Responders, through informal relationships that address psychological, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. If this sounds like you or someone you know, please consider contacting us.