Mission Ready Retreats – The Latest From First H.E.L.P.

From our good friend, Rob Winner

What does a “mental health break” look like to you?  If I took a poll in the conference room or at the local coffee shop, no doubt there would be a deluge of answers.  In all honesty I would hope no two answers were completely identical though running along similar tracks could be expected.

Along the same lines what sort of responses do you think I would get if I started asking folks what “Occupational Stress Injury” means to them?  I imagine those responses would vary greatly, not just by occupations but also based on generations.

So what is a “Mental Health Break” and how does it apply here and now?  First H.E.L.P., in partnership with FirstNet®, Built with AT&T, have teamed up to provide public safety professionals in communities throughout America with world-class mental health training through First H.E.L.P.’s Mission Ready Retreats; #MissionReadyRetreats.

First H.E.L.P. is holding four Mission Ready Retreats around the country with the end goal being to provide a week long, cost free “Mental Health Break” for our nation’s public safety professionals.  

On May 11th, we will welcome a group of first responders to a private ranch outside of San Antonio, TX and launch our first MRR.  As a peer-to-peer program, we will share stories, discuss both the darkness and the light of our chosen professions and dig into a bit of not only healing but also prevention in regards to occupational stress injuries, mental health and life both in and out of the uniform. 

With elements of First H.E.L.P.’s Responder Readiness program worked into our daily activities we will also examine alternative stress management with some leatherworking courtesy of King’s Saddlery, mental and physical fitness with daily PT, share time in the kitchen during meal prep, visit some of the local sights and spend time around the campfire. Life is always better around the campfire after all!

During First H.E.L.P.’s Mission Ready Retreats, first responders will explore the 3Ps of Responder Readiness: Performance, Persistence, and Prevention. Through small and large group discussions, participants will explore the impact that operational stress and trauma has had on their careers and families and take a deep dive using peer to peer counseling.  Participants will engage in the difficult conversations about mental health and suicide prevention with friends, family members, and co-workers.  First responders will practice resilience skills using what First H.E.L.P. refers to as the “R.A.N.G.E. of Resilience.”

“We can never fully prevent first responders from facing the traumatic stress associated with their profession, but we can try to prepare them for operational stress injuries.” said Dr. Jeffrey McGill, First H.E.L.P.’s Co-Founder and CEO. “By providing awareness and practical tools, we can help first responders perform at their best throughout their career, benefitting the responder, their family, their agency, and the community they serve.”

Since 2016, First H.E.L.P. has consistently tracked law enforcement suicides throughout the nation and in 2021, opened their efforts to include all first responders. Our goal is to bring first responders and public safety professionals together from all around the country to have the difficult talk, learn more about being a better self and a better team member at home and on the job.

“Providing a cost-free, week-long experience to our first responders where they can step out of the chaos of their day to day work and focus on themselves, the value of that can’t be measured.  We are giving them the opportunity to focus on their own mental health, using peer to peer techniques rather than prescribed medical courses of training and giving them alternative relaxation/ compartmentalizing techniques. This is huge. This training will provide important tools that they can take back home and to the job.” said Robert Winner, Director of Retreats for First H.E.L.P. “With elements of our own Responder Readiness program, concentrating on the 3-Ps and encouraging peer to peer communication/ counseling, we set out to make an amazing difference in the lives of our Nation’s heroes..

We don’t expect anyone to go home from our MRR “healed” but we do plan to send folks off with tools to help them navigate the stressors of life a bit better and be in a healthy mental space. Even the strongest amongst us has faced anxiety, depression, relationships issues, post-traumatic stress or occupational stress injuries. There’s no shame in having experienced these issues, nor is there shame in getting help navigating them.  Again, MRR’s are built to give you tools and knowledge to be a better you at home and on the job.

First H.E.L.P.’s #MissionReadyRetreats is a unique program that brings together all types of first responders in a cohesive training program where all participants develop skills built around a common set of principles. The goal for 2022 is to bring the #MissionReadyRetreats to public safety professionals across the country.

#MissionReadyRetreat #BlueHELP #1stHELP #RedHELP #IWillTalk #WhiteHELP #IWillListen #GoldHELP #SoWhat #FirstNET #StopTheStigma #HonorEducateLeadPrevent

Keith Finch
Keith is the Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. editor@gatdaily.com A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. A Certified Instructor since 2009, he has taught concealed weapons courses in the West Michigan area in the years since and continues to pursue training and teaching opportunities as they arise.