TULSA, Okla. -- It's a side of first responders you don't often see.
Many police officers, firefighters and others struggle to overcome the emotional toll their jobs can create.
Now one Oklahoma non-profit is hoping to change that.
It all starts with a single coin.
It serves as a reminder and a lifeline for Oklahoma's Finest whose biggest battle lies within their own minds.
“You go home and to know that some family isn't bringing their child home,” said GRDA Captain Tyler Brown.
“The job of a marine officer usually requires the removal of drowning victims from the water. Sometimes that involves children,” said Brown. “It's usually the culmination of things that build up. Eventually it just wears on you.”
That wear and tear on the mind led Brown to seek help.
An OHP officer led him to the Oklahoma Emergency Response Assistance Program who helped him let go.
“I realized that I had kept everything in and it was easier once I let everything out it was like a burden had been lifted off my chest,” he said.
“I see them come in with nonverbal skills that are locked down. You can see the anxiety, you can see the hurt,” said ERAP founder Doug White.
White's experience as a banker prompted him to found ERAP, knowing how high the stakes were.
“Chaos lives on the other side of that thin blue line. And the only people that protect you and I and our families are those men and women who put that uniform on,” White said.
75 first responders have been helped so far with counseling, peer groups and seminars.
Thanks to fundraising, efforts are now extended across state lines.
“The way we do our job, nobody comes out of pocket,” said White.
It's changing lives, preventing suicide and letting our heroes be human...one badge at a time.
“We owe it to them to take care of them. They take care of us every single day. It truly is the least we can do to make sure they're in a good mental state not only at work but at home also,” said Brown.
If you'd like to learn more about the Oklahoma Emergency Responder Assistance Program and their counseling services, you can head to erapok.org.
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