Reserve Seat Now to Prevent Suicide and Provide Hope for Healing
In celebration of “Take Your Dog to Work Day” (June 24), we’re remembering the therapy dogs that go to work every day in this country and highlighting the need for more of these dogs in communities across America. Therapy dogs provide critical emotional support to firefighters, police officers, and other first responders—many of whom experience PTSD and other mental health effects from on-the-job trauma. Yet at the cost of around $25,000, acquiring and training one of these dogs can be prohibitively expensive.
Now FHE Health is organizing a First Responder Paws Fundraiser Luncheon on Friday, October 28, at 12pm, at the Ritz Carlton in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Proceeds will pay for a second therapy dog to go to work for Broward County first responders, with the help of the First Responders Pack Foundation.
Luncheon to Feature Inspirational Guest Speaker
The October 28 luncheon will feature retired Navy SEAL Lieutenant Jason Redman as guest speaker. Redman has a moving story about overcoming adversity and is the proud owner of a therapy dog. The recipient of a Bronze Star Medal with Honor, Purple Heart, and other distinguished awards for leadership and service is also the author of The Trident: The Forging and the ReForging of a Navy SEAL Leader and Overcome.
Mike the Cop will emcee the event. He is the founder of Humanizing the Badge, a non-profit organization that seeks to strengthen ties between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. He also co-hosts the podcast Failure to Stop.
How to Attend and Show Support for First Responder Mental Health
To attend the luncheon and show your support for first responder mental health, consider buying a $50 ticket, by rsvp’ing today at FirstResponderPaws.EventBrite.com. In addition to helping us double the therapy dog pack in Broward County, your ticket will cover:
- A three-course meal and mocktails
- Entertainment featuring emcee Mike the Cop and inspirational remarks from guest speaker Lieutenant Jason Redman
- A bid paddle for the live auction
Why Support Therapy Dogs for First Responders
Nearly one in three first responders will develop a behavioral health condition like PTSD or depression, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Many first responders self-medicate with substances like alcohol and are more prone to self-destructive behaviors and suicide. In fact, law enforcement officers and firefighters are more likely to take their own life than die in the line of duty, an April 2021 CDC report, “Suicide Among First Responders: A Call to Action,” said.
Meanwhile, research has found that therapy dogs can significantly reduce symptoms and improve quality of life for those with PTSD and other mental health issues. They are trained to intervene after trauma and when they detect physical signs of anxiety and distress, such as panic attacks.
How This Fundraising Campaign Began
The fundraiser luncheon is the next phase of FHE Health’s #firstresponderpaws campaign. It began in September 2021 when FHE pledged to contribute $1 for each unique pet photo shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, with the goal of reaching 10,000 mentions and a matching $10,000 donation. Your response was overwhelming, generating 11,905 mentions. That inspired FHE to present a $10,000 check to Broward Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Local #4321 in a public ceremony in December.
Broward County first responders currently have one therapy dog, a yellow lab named “Oscar.” He and his handler firefighter Dean Moreno were at the December public ceremony to formally receive FHE’s $10,000 donation on behalf of their union Local #4321. (Catch Dean and Oscar’s heartwarming story here.)
Save the Date Details
We hope you’ll help us send a strong message of support to our first responders, by attending the luncheon and/or contributing to the fundraiser. You can rsvp today at FirstResponderPaws.EventBrite.com and save the date with the following info:
Friday, October 28th | Doors 11:30 a.m. | Event 12 p.m.
Ritz Carlton | 1 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd | Fort Lauderdale, FL
Together, we can help prevent first responder suicide and provide hope for healing from occupational trauma. For more information, please contact Jessica Metzel at JMetzel@fhehealth.com.