May 31, 2017Firefighting is one of the most demanding — and dangerous — professions in America. On the job, you witness more death and destruction than most people see in a lifetime. Chuck Talbott, a 27-year veteran of the fire service, puts it best: “The most challenging part of the job isn’t physical. It’s seeing things the human mind wasn’t designed to see. There are people that you won’t be able to help, or situations you won’t be able to mitigate. That is the most frustrating and mentally challenging thing about being a fire fighter.”
Job-related trauma can take an emotional toll. When this happens, you know that something is off — you feel numb and disconnected from your crew and family. You hope that if you wait long enough, the feelings will pass. Once you realize that things aren’t getting better, you worry about telling others. You don’t know what to do. You suffer in silence.
Silent Suffering by the Numbers:
Help Is Here: The IAFF Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery was created specifically for IAFF members in the United States and Canada. Our doctors and clinicians specialize in addressing substance abuse and other co-occurring conditions like depression and PTSD. The first step is often the most difficult one: reaching out. As Frank Leto of FDNY’s Counseling Services Unit says, “We are great at taking care of the public, but we are not so great at taking care of ourselves.” Mike James, a 24-year fire service veteran says, “Asking [for help] is the hardest part. You have to get over your own pride if you want to get better.” And once you reach out, you’ll be met by caring professionals who want to help you find healing.
You don’t have to suffer silently. Seek help for these treatable illnesses. You are not alone in what you’re feeling, and there are people waiting to help you. Speak to an IAFF Center of Excellence intake coordinator today and take the first step toward healing.