Exclusively for IAFF members.
It’s okay to ask for help.

Treatment for successful recovery from substance abuse, PTSD and other co-occurring behavioral health issues.

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the IAFF Center of Excellence has created some helpful resources for our patients and their families.

Our Center

The IAFF Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery is a one-of-a-kind treatment facility specializing in PTSD for professional fire service members who struggle with trauma, substance use, addiction and other related behavioral health challenges. It is a safe haven for members to receive the help they need in taking the first steps toward recovery and share experiences with other members who have faced or overcome similar challenges.

gym and fitness center at IAFF

Thoughtful Design

Designed from the ground up with fire fighters in mind, the Center sits on a 15-acre campus and includes a state-of-the-art gym and other features that encourage physical activity to help in recovery and preparing to return to the job.
outdoor space at IAFF

Natural Serenity

Located in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C., the IAFF Center is surrounded by lush pine forest and features onsite areas for reflection and enjoying nature’s healing powers.

members sitting at table at IAFF

Knowledgeable Staff

The IAFF Center is overseen by Craig L. Katz, M.D., who designed a program for first responders in the aftermath of 9/11, and Abby Morris, M.D., an expert in the behavioral healthcare field. We understand the rigors of your job, and know what it takes to help.

What Our Patients Say

Daniel Lewis
Daniel Lewis
16:55 16 Aug 22
It is not cliche for me to say that this Center, it’s Clinicians and ALL of the staff here have indeed saved my life. I have been a Firefighter/Paramedic for 11 years and in July of 2020 I suffered a trauma that changed me at my core. I had no idea what to do or who to talk to. I began isolating from my friends and family, avoiding all of my responsibilities, and spiraling out of control. I turned to the usual/ socially acceptable outlet for many of us in the Fire Service, but not ONLY Firefighters, ALCOHOL. Bad idea.... it only took me two months until i could no longer perform my job safely or adequately. I left work under the FMLA act and sought therapy locally to try and sort myself out. Despite my therapists best efforts to help me, two days a week was not getting me where I needed to be to return to duty.After numerous conversations over a 3 month period my therapist finally convinced me I needed to check myself into the IAFF Center of Excellence. I finally realized i needed a lot more specialized/intense treatment and I needed A LOT of it!Today, after 48 days, I am graduating from the Center of Excellence. I have learned countless tools that I can use to reintegrate back into my home life. I have learned so many skills that I can share with coworkers, friends and family members as well. While I do not know what the future holds for me as far as my career as a Firefighter I do know that I will be alive and sober to make good decisions, and to be able to cope with decisions that are out of my control. Those are two things I could not guarantee prior to coming here.If you or anyone you know is struggling with PTSD or Addiction, the IAFF Center of Excellence is where you/they need to be! There are countless programs out there for addiction and/or PTSD, but there is nowhere else that is specifically made for Firefighters. The ability to share my stories and hear stories from the men and women who have “been where I have, and seen what I have seen” is what truly makes this a special place! I have made countless friends from all over the United States and can now include them in my lifetime support network moving forward in my sobriety and learning to live with PTSD.I wish you, your family member or friend the very best. Make the call and get the help that is needed and deserved.Yours Truly,Daniel LewisCouncil Bluffs Fire and RescueLocal 15Residing in Omaha, NE08/16/22Recovery is an ongoing process. I was successful in abstaining from alcohol for the last 18 months and the relationships I have at home are better than they ever have been in my life. Those successes I can attribute to the tools I learned here last year. That being said…. my mental health and PTSD symptoms became overwhelming again and I recognized that I needed to come back here for more help. I am eternally grateful for the staff and clinicians here at the COE.Daniel Lewis
Rodney Tisdale
Rodney Tisdale
15:11 16 Aug 22
I have truly been blessed by everyone here! I’m thankful for the knowledge given to help me reset my life and to apply it to my life going forward..Thank you!!!
Chris Wainwright
Chris Wainwright
13:35 15 Aug 22
If your a firefighter who is struggling with PTSD or Addictions; this is the place you need to be! I have a second chance at life now!
Samantha Sweeden
Samantha Sweeden
22:20 12 Aug 22
I have been in the fire service for over 23 years. I have not been to a therapist who understood nor did they understand PTSD. I was doing well until some final triggers and I was drowning. I was a ball of numbness and just existing. The COE and staff truly took the time to help me find myself again. I feel joy, laughter, yes sadness but now I can name it and deal with it. It’s like learning an algorithm to bring the right thinking pattern back to the brain. Truly remarkable.
cdeaton343
cdeaton343
16:32 11 Aug 22
This place is truly amazing. When I say it saved my life I can with 100% honestly say it saved my life. I will always promote this place to any of my brothers or sisters firefighters. I will forever have a place in my heart for the COE. The staff is beyond words and helpful. Thank you COE for getting back to being me.
Jason Bowmaster
Jason Bowmaster
15:51 09 Aug 22
I had a great experience and got the help I needed. The staff was amazing.
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About Our Program

Care for your unique needs

If you’re struggling with post-traumatic stress along with co-occurring depression, anxiety or substance abuse disorders, you need treatment from professionals who understand the fire service culture and the unique pressures of your job. The IAFF Center of Excellence connects you to best-practice, evidence-based therapies delivered by clinicians who understand the types of trauma you experience on a day-to-day basis.

Completely confidential treatment

Center staff cannot discuss your treatment with anyone — your fire department, family or friends — unless given explicit permission by you. This applies before, during and after your stay at the IAFF Center of Excellence.

Our Partner: Advanced Recovery Systems

With seven treatment centers across the United States, the continuum of care provided by Advanced Recovery Systems is unsurpassed. The IAFF has partnered with Advanced Recovery Systems to provide members with specialized treatment for the everyday stressors that trigger PTSD, behavioral health disorders and substance abuse.

iaff logo
advanced reocvery systems logo

We Can Help

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

You’re exposed to traumatic situations every day you’re on the job. For this reason, fire fighters and paramedics are twice as likely as the general population to experience PTSD. That’s why therapies to treat and recover from PTSD are first priority at the IAFF Center of Excellence. You’ll learn coping strategies, work through individual and group therapy sessions and participate in activities that will help you recover, build resilience and return to the job.

Substance Abuse

It is not uncommon when suffering from PTSD to experience co-occurring disorders, including alcohol and drug abuse as substances are sometimes used to self-medicate and escape symptoms. As part of the integrated, multi-disciplinary approach at the IAFF Center of Excellence, IAFF members struggling with addiction will receive the full continuum of care, from detox to outpatient therapy, so they can get the necessary treatment to start living fuller lives.

Behavioral Health

Depression, anxiety and other behavioral health issues can also be brought on or worsened by the stresses of the job. However, through medical and pharmacological treatment and cognitive talk therapy, members can get behavioral health treatment in a caring and supportive atmosphere that understands the fire service culture.

We Can Help

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

You’re exposed to traumatic situations every day you’re on the job. For this reason, fire fighters and paramedics are twice as likely as the general population to experience PTSD. That’s why therapies to treat and recover from PTSD are first priority at the IAFF Center of Excellence. You’ll learn coping strategies, work through individual and group therapy sessions and participate in activities that will help you recover, build resilience and return to the job.

Substance Abuse

It is not uncommon when suffering from PTSD to experience co-occurring disorders, including alcohol and drug abuse as substances are sometimes used to self-medicate and escape symptoms. As part of the integrated, multi-disciplinary approach at the IAFF Center of Excellence, IAFF members struggling with addiction will receive the full continuum of care, from detox to outpatient therapy, so they can get the necessary treatment to start living fuller lives.

Behavioral Health

Depression, anxiety and other behavioral health issues can also be brought on or worsened by the stresses of the job. However, through medical and pharmacological treatment and cognitive talk therapy, members can get behavioral health treatment in a caring and supportive atmosphere that understands the fire service culture.

Recovery Stories

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