It’s no secret that many people who work in law enforcement or emergency services, such as paramedics, also have a career in the military. Some become first responders after their career in the military is over, while others, especially those who are part of the National Guard, only serve when called into active duty.

Peer support specialists play a critical role for these members of the workforce, who are exposed to high levels of stress and even trauma in both of their chosen professions.

Nothing reinforces this more than a recent news story involving peers support specialists out of Roanoke, Virginia.

“Since the department’s peer support team was formed in the mid-1980s, members have reached out to struggling employees, whether they are going through a personal crisis or figuring out how to cope after responding to a traumatic incident,” reported The Virginian-Pilot.

The Roanoke Police Department has found its peer support specialist department to be pivotal in two ways: helping officers deal with loss and trauma experienced in the line of duty, and helping officers who are also soldiers readjust to their civilian job when military duty is over.

“Both Roanoke and Roanoke County police try to normalize the idea of seeking support from the start of an officer’s career. Roanoke officers take peer support and crisis-intervention classes at the training academy, and then again during their annual in-service training,” Sgt. Andy Pulley told The Virginian-Pilot.

Still, it’s an uphill battle to fight the stigma that seeking help for mental trauma or anguish isn’t “manly.” A 2014 report from the International Association of Chiefs of Police noted that mental health often fails “to receive the same level of attention and resources within the officer safety continuum.”

Peer Support Central is working hard to combat this stigma, and the resulting lack of resources, by providing training and development courses that will prepare a new generation of peer support specialists.

Want to be part of the movement to provide greater mental and emotional support for those in the military and first responder industries? Contact Peer Support Central for more information today.