All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast

Choosing The Right Path: Questions To Ask About Inpatient Programs with Guest Alex Menas

February 07, 2024 Travis McGaha / Eric Stephenson Season 2 Episode 4
Choosing The Right Path: Questions To Ask About Inpatient Programs with Guest Alex Menas
All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast
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All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast
Choosing The Right Path: Questions To Ask About Inpatient Programs with Guest Alex Menas
Feb 07, 2024 Season 2 Episode 4
Travis McGaha / Eric Stephenson

When first responders seek healing from the trauma and stress of their critical roles, finding the right support system is paramount. This is why we invited Alex Menas of FHE Health and the Shatterproof Program to share invaluable insights on the specialized care necessary for these heroes. With a focus on therapies like EMDR, CBT, and DBT, Alex discusses the unique needs of first responders, the incredible bonds formed in group therapy, and how a specialized staff, including former first responders, can make all the difference in recovery. The conversation also sheds light on the essential role of family involvement and the creation of a robust aftercare plan, laying the groundwork for lasting healing.

Navigating the often-turbulent waters of mental health support and aftercare can be daunting for first responders, but the right guidance can chart a course to safer shores. The episode takes you through the meticulous intake process at FHE Health, from verifying insurance to clinical assessments and the arrangement of travel for care. Aftercare plans aren't simply a post-treatment thought—they're a lifeline to maintaining recovery, encompassing everything from AA meetings to faith communities and intensive outpatient programs. This discussion is a testament to the unwavering commitment needed and the peer support that ensures these brave individuals never walk their recovery path alone.

Confronting the stigma and obstacles first responders face in seeking mental health assistance is not a battle to be undertaken lightly. The episode emphasizes the importance of resilience and preventative maintenance in mental health, drawing parallels with the routine care professional athletes invest in their physical well-being. Success stories serve as beacons of hope, illustrating the profound positive impact that seeking and receiving the right help can have. From transformative programs to the ripple effects of healing, our conversation with Alex Menas is a clarion call for the valiant men and women serving on the front lines to prioritize their mental health with the same fervor they bring to saving lives.

About Alex:
Alex Menas is FHE Health’s National Outreach Liaison for the mid-Atlantic region, comprising Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Alex helps individuals and families find affordable treatment solutions for addiction and mental health needs. He also serves as a treatment resource and consultant for various entities and organizations from the public and private sectors, such as first responders, the military, and healthcare providers.

Mr. Menas was inspired to do this work after growing up in a small town in West Virginia, where he lost many friends, neighbors, and acquaintances to the opioid epidemic. He is a commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force, a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, and lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with his wife and three kids.

About FHE & Shatterproof:

https://fherehab.com/services/first-responders/

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

When first responders seek healing from the trauma and stress of their critical roles, finding the right support system is paramount. This is why we invited Alex Menas of FHE Health and the Shatterproof Program to share invaluable insights on the specialized care necessary for these heroes. With a focus on therapies like EMDR, CBT, and DBT, Alex discusses the unique needs of first responders, the incredible bonds formed in group therapy, and how a specialized staff, including former first responders, can make all the difference in recovery. The conversation also sheds light on the essential role of family involvement and the creation of a robust aftercare plan, laying the groundwork for lasting healing.

Navigating the often-turbulent waters of mental health support and aftercare can be daunting for first responders, but the right guidance can chart a course to safer shores. The episode takes you through the meticulous intake process at FHE Health, from verifying insurance to clinical assessments and the arrangement of travel for care. Aftercare plans aren't simply a post-treatment thought—they're a lifeline to maintaining recovery, encompassing everything from AA meetings to faith communities and intensive outpatient programs. This discussion is a testament to the unwavering commitment needed and the peer support that ensures these brave individuals never walk their recovery path alone.

Confronting the stigma and obstacles first responders face in seeking mental health assistance is not a battle to be undertaken lightly. The episode emphasizes the importance of resilience and preventative maintenance in mental health, drawing parallels with the routine care professional athletes invest in their physical well-being. Success stories serve as beacons of hope, illustrating the profound positive impact that seeking and receiving the right help can have. From transformative programs to the ripple effects of healing, our conversation with Alex Menas is a clarion call for the valiant men and women serving on the front lines to prioritize their mental health with the same fervor they bring to saving lives.

About Alex:
Alex Menas is FHE Health’s National Outreach Liaison for the mid-Atlantic region, comprising Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Alex helps individuals and families find affordable treatment solutions for addiction and mental health needs. He also serves as a treatment resource and consultant for various entities and organizations from the public and private sectors, such as first responders, the military, and healthcare providers.

Mr. Menas was inspired to do this work after growing up in a small town in West Virginia, where he lost many friends, neighbors, and acquaintances to the opioid epidemic. He is a commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force, a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, and lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with his wife and three kids.

About FHE & Shatterproof:

https://fherehab.com/services/first-responders/

Your one stop shop for graphic design, screen printing, embroidery and more.  Proud sponsor of the All Clear Podcast.

Use the code All Clear to get 10% off your first order.

studioprintshop.com

Support the Show.

Thanks for listening to All Clear!

You can contact us with questions, suggestions or just to say hi at our website
allclearpodcast.com


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Speaker 1:

This week on All Clear, choosing the right pack questions to ask about in-patient programs with guest Alex Menace from FHE Health and the Shatterproof Program. This is one of the rare occasions when we were able to all be in the same room at the Midwinter Chiefs Conference in Concord, north Carolina, on February 1st 2024. I'm Travis Eric. We are in the same room. We have a very special guest with us tonight. It's one of Eric's associates, so we're going to have a chance to talk to Alex. I'm going to hand the mic over to you. Let you talk to Alex and explain what our topic is tonight.

Speaker 2:

I appreciate that and, more than anything, how I would describe Alex is probably one of my best friends. Alex and I have a really good working relationship with what we do on the mental health side of our first responders. Alex is a huge part of my team in making sure that we're getting the appropriate care and help for first responders that we come in contact with. So what I'm going to do before we get any further is have Alex introduce himself to us. Just tell me a little bit about yourself. Let our listeners know what your background is and who you work for.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely. It's great to be with you guys. Like I said, eric, the best relationships built in friendship, under a common bond, a common purpose. I know we'll get into some of that, but it's just been like three years now of just knowing each other and really just being passionate about helping other people. But yeah, so my name is Alex Minas and I work for a company called FHE Health which has the Shatterproof Program, which is for first responders, exclusively for first responders. That means a staff and all that comes with the programming, and so we bring first responders in that have a variety of needs under a mental health care, wellness I really just say more of a wellness program because of all the things that can happen across the spectrum of a first responders life. So, fhe Health, shatterproof. But a little bit about me. Why is this important to Alex and why are we passionate about doing what we're doing?

Speaker 3:

I grew up in a small town where we knew the cops in our town. We knew public servants. We knew from a military standpoint, left, a small town in rural West Virginia, blue collar and went to a military college. I spent my four years on active duty, but my brother also same military college and active duty still in the army and on my wife's side we've got three other, that's a sister-in-law and brother-in-law. Is it all in the military? So probably a little heavier on the military side than the first responder. But culturally we're passionate about helping and of course we get a lot of crossover from military into the first responder world man. That's the fly by of my life and I did military, then I did medical sales and then a good friend brought me into the treatment side of things.

Speaker 2:

Our first introduction was through another mutual friend in the first responder mental health spectrum of things, and it really took off from there and the last three years, the relationship that we have been able to cultivate and build it stronger every year has been amazing and with the same goal in mind, and that is making sure that our first responders are taken care of when they get in a bad situation. So you mentioned FHE. I've been down there, I've been fortunate enough to tour FHE. Could you tell us a little bit about FHE, the Shatterproof Program, some of the treatments that are provided for the first responders when they go? Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 3:

And he said, depending on what the need is on the front end, we've got a great way to basically onboard everyone and so, from a medical standpoint, everything's in house. I think that's what kind of makes FHE special, is that you've got the coverage from psych and medical and then your staff. So from that standpoint, whether it's a medical detox or it's a primary mental health need, that we can onboard and then, as fast as possible, get into the Shatterproof Program. So what that means is all the first responders are together, the staff is built for them. It's a staff comprising of former first responders. There are now licensed clinicians as well as some other clinical staff that has expertise crossed again, a variety of needs I think most of us, most folks it seems they're more familiar with.

Speaker 3:

When we say terms like neuro, emdr, cbt, dbt, yoga, a fitness center, you're trying to cover the pillars of health, right? So sleeping, getting first responders into a normal sleeping pattern, so sleeping, eating, exercise, establishing a routine for the pillars of health. So I should make a big emphasis on group. So I think when first responders realize that they walk into a community of 30 or 40 other first responders, you're almost instantly making lifetime friends because of the shared bond and most probably walk into the program going I know I'm going to be the only one there and when the door opens and you realize that from across the country, from across the United States of America, you've got first responders from 12 to 15 different states and doing different things, that it's hey, oh, wow.

Speaker 3:

This is, I think it's eye-opening from there. But again, yes, you're doing group therapy and then you get some individualized things. You're getting your primary therapist work done there? I think it would be. We've got to mention the family component we've talked about through some of that. You've got a. All the spouses have access to a family therapist where they're getting education every single week. They can tap into that. So, really, the wraparound services that we're offering and available to the first responders in a fairly short amount of time We've talked a lot about this, that window of opportunity that we have in the Shatterproof program. And then the Continuing Care. Yeah, we're trying to man, we're going to hit reset with the first responders, build a foundation and then work really hard to figure out an aftercare plan that serves again, serves the first responders to the best of our ability.

Speaker 1:

Alex, I've known Eric quite a while now and I met you last year for the first time. And one thing I appreciate about Eric and I've learned this from talking with you is the fact that he's not going to recommend a program, he's not going to sign off on anything until it's well vetted. And I know you're the same way because we've had conversations where you're not the only game in town, so to speak. There are other programs around the country. Some are great, some not so great. So I appreciate the fact that you realize that your organization has limitations at times and you try to help everybody you can. So what I was hoping we could do is maybe discuss some ways how a person can vet on their own or program if they know that they or somebody in their department may need services of an inpatient nature. What are some questions, what are some things we should look for, and I'm sure Eric can probably lead that a little bit more, because I know you've vetted quite a few programs in your time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, for instance, alex and I have a really good working relationship, so I know the ins and outs of how to get a client down there to FHE if need be. But if an organization was looking to maybe have their own in-house program, things like that maybe specifically, hey, we want to work with FHE. How do we go about it? One of the first things what insurance do you have? I think that would be primary. Is the insurance going to cover what this client, what your employee, truly needs for care, not just, oh, we have this and this facility is going to accept the insurance, but is that truly what this person needs for a recovery process? Do they have the right treatment modalities? That is absolutely humongous. Alex mentioned a couple of them neuro stimulation group, cbt, emdr, some of the other things that I know. Not ashamed to say it, not afraid to say it. My wife and I talk about it and we share the experience all the time that.

Speaker 2:

My wife spent almost two months down at Shatterproof with you guys a little over a year ago and she said some of the coolest things were massage therapy You're not going to find that everywhere Acupuncture, ketamine you guys are on the forefront of ketamine treatment for psychological injuries associated with first responders, and those are game-changing things. So it's like buying a car If you want to use that analogy of what are you going to do, you can buy what you can afford or you're going to buy what is truly going to be worthwhile for you later on down the road. Have the longevity and know that you are getting your money's worth out of this visit down to FHE. The family component and I know this because my wife was there that's humongous. It really is that I'm worried about my wife all the time when she's down there every single day. I know she's perfectly good because I know the program.

Speaker 2:

But what was really cool once a week her assigned therapist would give me a phone call. I had her phone number If I had any questions or anything else. More than free to call to check in. Hey, can you give me an update or whatever else, but a minimum once a week I was getting that phone call from her therapist keeping me up to speed, and that was huge. That put me at comfort, being in North Carolina, knowing that my wife is sitting in Deerfield Beach, florida. It was truly amazing. The vetting process I pretty much vetted FHE into our program through an invitation, through Alex. Hey, this is what I do. Why don't you come down and take a look at it and see it for yourself? Alex is a good friend of mine. We work great together, but by far the best first responder based treatment program I have seen, and it speaks for itself.

Speaker 3:

And I think we talked about some of this. Eric, right, there are certainly nuances to some different programs, some advantages there's been. Some folks do it really on a boutique level, right. So the number of people, sometimes it might be the setting right. Sometimes you talk to people in Florida and it's I want to go to the mountains. So you have right.

Speaker 3:

So we're always working within the framework of what somebody's giving us. Hey, we're not going to force you to do anything, but certainly want to get you help in just figuring those components out. I think it's always what are we going to look at? And part of the going and visiting is to one make sure it's like hey, is this a program or is this a track? If a cop shows up at a treatment center or a firefighter shows up at a treatment center, is it like oh, okay, now we have this person and maybe once a week there's, we do something for them, versus every bit of life is done in the first responder setting with other first responders.

Speaker 3:

You're grouping together. That means you're again, your clinical staff are all very competent in working with first responders. Again, most of them have the lived experience and then all the wraparound services, as you mentioned. All that is. Most of these things are very specifically designed to do different things. Right, we switch off a neuro EMDR, the bio bed, just all those components that then wrap around. But that's probably one of your most important is trust, but verify that, okay, if a first responder steps into this environment, what are we really saying?

Speaker 2:

What you mentioned of the different treatments and things like that. One thing that I really liked about your program was that it was client specific and doing the brain scanning and are you dealing with a depression issue? Are you dealing with anxiety, whatever else they tailor, make your treatment while you're at your facility for you. There might be group inclusive things that are all inclusive, but they are truly focusing on you as an individual and it's not just a track of where, okay, we have 15 clients, 20 clients, whatever else, and they are all going through the exact same thing every single day and, boom, this is tailored for you specifically. I got to see Debs reports. I got to see her brain scans when she came home and from start to the middle to her discharge, and got to see that progression. And I think that's what your staff sees at and they make those adjustments for that client specific, which is humongous.

Speaker 2:

And what kind of program again, and how do we vet them in? You mentioned getting there. If you can get boots on the ground and you can get eyes on it, you get to shake hands with the people that are gonna be doing the treatment for the people that we're gonna be sending there is huge, and I bring that back to an example of somebody that I knew that was in a bad spot, didn't have a resource like what you and I have. They found a place off of a recommendation. Yes, this is a great place.

Speaker 2:

It's out in the Midwest and first responder based. This dude jumps on an airplane, goes out there and absolutely not no first responder program. He was lied to about that nothing to do with PTSD, anxiety, depression and he was thrown in a room with a roommate that was coming down off of methamphetamine a guy off the street and what do you think that does to the first responder? Now Very reluctant, very hesitant in wanting to go to a treatment center, even if we say, hey, this is the best thing since sliced bread. I can guarantee you what's already been put in their head.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and I think, like I said to your point, eric, I think there's probably less of that going on. It still happens. I would say we're probably getting better there because, as you and I know right, it's like, hey, we can't take everyone right as much as we all. Man, we love first responders and anybody that needs help. Again, I think having the expertise it's like, hey, find someone that does know what they're talking about and then it even may be able to guide, they can guide someone through what the options look like, what's available, what do they need? Where have they started?

Speaker 3:

How many conversations have we started with someone and go, hey, have you ever talked to a peer? And they're like, what's that man? What's a peer? And you're like, okay, maybe we can try. Maybe it's not so much that we need to jump right into treatment yet, but just understanding, hey, man, give me a little background, what's going on? Because there are, certainly there are resources that we can tap into initially and then figure out whether it's a peer route, whether it's hey, I've never seen a therapist's office, I don't even know what a therapist is. Okay, we can identify those things and start there. What?

Speaker 2:

we're doing with that crawl, walk, run. Start with the peer level. Oh, you've never talked to a peer, guess what. Let me get you in touch with someone.

Speaker 3:

Would you like to talk with someone that has?

Speaker 2:

late to you 100% and what you're going through Lived experience, exactly Explain, if you would, what the process is like with somebody that goes down to FHE what is it? Gonna look like for them.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely so. From the time that we know we have someone's information, we're gonna verify the insurance, we're gonna have a phone assessment done with the admissions team. That way, 20 or 30 minutes again, we're discovering what's exactly going on and what the needs are, identifying the clinical need for treatment. Once that's done, then it comes down to the logistics where's someone coming from? What flights are available? How quickly do we need to get them to South Florida?

Speaker 3:

Luckily we have three major airports. So typically, as we know, we try to find the need for a nonstop flight that'll coming from where they are to us, pick them up at the airport, bring them to the medical building, get them in process and, depending on time of day, some of those things. What's the initial need, our staff again if for everyone to get their opportunity to work with the patient. So your psych team, medical team, the neuro team, all that initial workup and then from there, as you mentioned, some of their unique protocol and then getting started into the program. But that's all built to it that, hey, sometimes it's like like we have to get someone on a plane and get them somewhere immediately. We're gonna have someone fly with them.

Speaker 1:

So, alex, we know all that goes into getting folks there, the programs that you've got, the resources you have there in Florida. At some point I've gotta come home. So my question is, when someone leaves your place down at FHE, are they done or are they still remembered at the FHE family for a while to come?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, you know that man, it's such a great question and that is, I would almost say, he could make the argument for, hey, what's the most important part of this process? And I would say again, even though it may seem like a good bit of time to be at the program that you're aftercare, that's again you're going back to life. We could talk through so many different things, right, where, hey, a firefighter is getting better and they are improving, sometimes they're all the things that have happened and bridges have been burned back home, and so those things. Maybe we're not moving in parallel at the same time. Spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, loved ones all those dynamics have happened, which come back to the discharge question of how important all those things are. So some of that is being discussed in the family group sessions that are going on in the evening. So again, you have one particular to first responder spouses, and then there's another one that just any family member can be a part of while the person is with us at FHE, so there can be education and asking questions. Some people would ask a basic question, right, if my husband or wife is a first responder and they've had an alcohol problem, do I need to clean every bit of alcohol out of the house. If we're going to an Italian dinner tonight I want to have a glass of wine, can I have a glass of wine? Those are just really real practical questions that a lot of people want to be able to ask. So we have that avenue going on while they're with us. So, again, because you're trying to bridge the gap that once somebody is returning home and all these practical things are going to start coming into their life.

Speaker 3:

So, again, depending on the exact need, you have everything from something and most people know AA groups, those types of things. You may have celebrate recovery. You may want to do it through your faith community. You may have pastoral care, chaplain care. It can be a part of the discharge. I would say certainly a competent first responder therapist, a primary therapist, is going to be in that. If we have some type of group environment like an intensive outpatient program available in the area, that may make sense for a patient, really as much as comprehensive as an aftercare plan, and then shout out to the first responders that you have to continue on right, you have to follow up, you have to follow through with that plan.

Speaker 3:

So, peer support if you have peer support through your agency or through an outside agency. You have someone like Eric available to you. I know the amount of work that he puts in, right. So I think all those avenues is hey, what is going on? What are the identified needs? What do we have access to back home and then we're going to walk through. Hey, all these things are available.

Speaker 3:

Then you have every Friday, there is a Shatterproof Alumni Group, right. So you have that's a Zoom call every single Friday. That's available to them. In some of our states now they almost have their own chapters of Shatterproof Alums, so they have group text going, they have their own Zoom calls, they have meetups and, I think, the organic stuff I say I mean, every now and then I'll get someone to call me and say, hey, did you know this was going on? And I don't? No, I don't, but that's great. So I think you have pieces of that that are going on. However, you can stay plugged into accountability, maybe deciding to join your own agency's peer team and be plugged in that way and doing those things. That's a fairly comprehensive list.

Speaker 2:

I know firsthand from being away two separate times. A lot of people get a misconception that I'm going to go to FHE or I'm going to go somewhere else, whatever. And it's a one and done. This is going to fix me, I'm going to be okay. Guess what that's just. You've said a very specific word earlier. That is the foundation that we're building off of.

Speaker 2:

You have to put the work in every day to maintain and to live those skills that they're putting in you down there in Florida or any treatment center that you go to. You can't complain about the poor results from the lack of effort you put in and we end up seeing that a lot. Oh man, it didn't work Well, did the program not work? Or are you not working on what you learned at the program when you came home? Cool thing about FHE being able to go back if need be. Relapse is huge in any type of recovery and it can happen to anybody. So let's say that I got a client down to you. They go down there, they spend 30 days, 60 days, whatever it is. They come home and six months later they're right back and they're in trouble again. Can they go back down to Florida?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely. And like you said, like you alluded to Eric, I think that there again we would have to evaluate individual circumstances and what leads to these things. Sometimes it may be, as you've said, the wheels have fallen off and then we start asking some questions hey, what's been going on? I haven't seen my therapist for two months. All right, can we get into these therapists tomorrow? Can we get back on track? Can we have peer support? Can we have whatever it is, whatever tools are available, can we get back? Can we have some conversations? Can we involve peers? Can we involve whoever is at support again and get the process restarted that way?

Speaker 3:

But in terms of, hey, the wheels have really come off and we've got to get somebody back to the program, yes, those options are always available. I would say as much as we probably I think everybody wants to the firefighter, police officer, first responder and FHE shadow proof staff want nothing more than hit the reset button, get the foundation built and continue on right, continue serving your community, doing the job you love and as healthy of a way as possible. But again, right, when we open up the hey, the family dynamics, the, how many jobs? Right, you have a second job, third job financial things that are going on. Hey, I got home in two critical incidences within the first week of being back, and so just all those, it's just all those individual pieces, different dynamics.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, and knowing that they have the opportunity to go back and that we've had clients that have had to go back before and I failed, maybe not, things happen it's okay to stumble again and I think if somebody recognizing that and saying I need to go back, heck, yeah. That's probably one of the hardest things that somebody can do First. The first would be the first time, saying I need help, but to say that the second time, holy cow swallow that pride and I wanna do better, I wanna be better, and knowing that FHE is there, willing to take these people back, is humongous. Yeah, I think you will. One piece of advice that you could give a first responder that is unsure of whether or not they truly need help or whether they want help what would you suggest to that individual?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's a great question. I think first and foremost is maybe does that person know someone that has gone down that path that may have some similar lived experience? And to me, that peer to peer framework, I think it's like anything I would tell it's the most first responders operate in a team environment and that sort of thing. So I think it's extremely wise to take in as much counsel as you possibly can. Hey, what's the good side of this? What's the bad side of this? What's the? I'm already in a financial hole, right? Should I dig a deeper hole to go get help? That's a very practical question that comes up all the time, because sometimes that may be a part of what's already going on.

Speaker 2:

I can't be away from work for 30 days.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so again, there's so many of these things. But yeah, from an advice standpoint it's like anything right, it's hey. The worst thing that can happen is being told no. So ask the questions, find that person that you can trust or that person that you can talk to If you need to find someone outside of your agency, whatever those things are, it's like we are willing to sit and listen and figure out what's going on and maybe what a course of action, what a first step, would look like.

Speaker 2:

I always hit them after the initial peer to peer stuff and things like that, and if they're on the fence on whether or not they want to go somewhere, I dropped a hammer on them and think about it. You've mentioned all these things that are on the negative side of why you can't go. But look at this it is 30 days for the rest of your life. Is it worth it to go down there for 30 days and truly have the opportunity to come back and change the individual? And then it's the start of that process, exactly, yeah, that's usually what really. You see the light bulb go off, holy cow.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and you and I have talked about it too how many stories we could recall. I just got one last week that was like man, that warmed my soul. So you talk about a guy that came twice, came to the program twice and just got, I may say it, wrong. So if they hear this EMT or paramedic of the year and it's whoa, but that person had to come twice. So you just never know and I think that some of it is always hey, you have to remember that if you are willing to take this leap, that your ability to help that next person we've seen that so many times.

Speaker 3:

Where it's, it might be two weeks, it might be two months, but somewhere down the line someone is just like waiting to talk to you. Sometimes people can't wait till you get home and go, hey, where were you? And then it leads to another conversation man, I've just needed to talk to you so bad. So I think that is not that that's the only driver, but it's certainly something that I would say for first responders and our military veterans, some again that have crossed over into public safety. Now that it's. We know the issues going on in our veteran community, we know so the ability to go and get healthy and start down that path. I think it exponentially helps other people right.

Speaker 2:

And to relate that to our good friend Gerald. Gerald's been on the podcast with us before with the Low Country Firefighter Support Team in South Carolina their logo. You have to take that leap of faith, trust what we're telling you is a peer group, that if you truly want help we have the available resources for you. Put the trust and confidence in us and you see those fears and hesitations when somebody comes back of man I had nothing to be worried about, I wasn't locked up in a room.

Speaker 3:

What most people think at the real and that's what they think these misconceptions.

Speaker 2:

And it's man. Why did I wait so long to finally decide to go get help?

Speaker 3:

How many people? Yeah, take that leap of faith. How many people have do? We know that even you're either close to retirement now or in retirement, where it's man. Why did I wait 25 years? This is so normal. We've talked about it, I say it all the time. I think that if you knew what most professional athletes were doing, they have access to all of this stuff and they're doing it in the privacy of their home or the private something in that setting it should be normalized throughout our community of first responders that hey, guess what?

Speaker 2:

We're going down there to FHE for maybe just two weeks and it's preventative maintenance. We're building resiliency in our employees and we're trying to keep them out of getting in trouble in the first place, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. And don't wait for that 25-year mark, that 15-year mark or whatever else, boom, start incorporating this stuff.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, we all know it's. Hey, the best corporations bring in. They've got health and wellness. They've got fitness centers inside of the company where you can go on your lunch. They've got a cafeteria, right they people are doing this and we know the issues with first responders and you know, and the cafeteria.

Speaker 2:

I've heard that the food's not too bad down there to FHE. You've got a cafeteria, yeah, they love the ice cream machine. Got some ice cream.

Speaker 3:

You can always count on some fire guys, man in the grills. You're in a good. We've talked about it even this time of year, man being in a place where there's sunshine, where the sun is shining, right, it's right. Talk to people. How big of a difference.

Speaker 2:

The biggest worry down there is iguanas falling out of the trees on them. It's cold, right, truly. That's it. Everything else it's a cakewalk down there, man. Yeah, yeah, but I really appreciate you taking the time to be with us tonight. Anything else that you'd like to add? I'm gonna turn it over to Travis see if he has any closing remarks or comments questions for you. But thank you for being here, brother.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely. I think we share a common bond that we want to serve people and it's hey, I was at an event earlier today and it's look, most people in this country, we love our cops, we love firefighters, we love it's like we have to have these people right. It's like we cannot, we can't function in America without these people. Corrections officers, telecommunicators, right, just go down the line. I'll make sure I get everybody, because I know somebody's gonna say we forgot our group, we forgot our group, but everybody right, it's like we have to have these people right. You get in a pinch and dial three numbers and no one answers. What does that look like? Or hey, call times, we can. Just we could do this man, we could be here talking for the next 10 hours, days and days.

Speaker 3:

But yeah, it's. Hey, man, we love first responders. We wanna help you, whatever ways that those. It manifests in all kinds of ways very practical things, meeting everyday needs and doing mill trains for people while they're gone. Just whatever it is, we love you.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for serving our country so if somebody wants to get in touch with you or check out FHE, what is the easiest way for them to do that?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, my cell phone number is 919-717-0915. If you wanna do a Google search you've got a lot of the information on the websites and go to FHE Health, right at the top, the pro you can click on the program Shatterproof and then that will unlock information and you can check it out and flip through.

Speaker 2:

I can feel you. I'm pretty much anything about the program yeah luckily, like I say, this has been.

Speaker 3:

We didn't do it on the front end, but even the context. This is almost 10 years of Shatterproof, which may be one of the longest standing first true first responder programs. So that seems like dog years. I don't know what that is, but it's a lot In first responder wellness 10 years now. I say that again not for any numbers, recognition, anything like that, but just to tell people that hey, this is 10 years now, so you've got first responders from all walks of life that are out there available to talk to you. If we need to again put you in contact with somebody that is a combat veteran that's been through the program, that is a corrections officer, a telecommunicator, whatever that it's like, those people exist. This has been going on for a decade now, and now, with more and more places that have come online and are doing a good job in different settings other treatment programs it's hey, look, again we can figure out what's going to help serve someone and their family and get you in the right spot.

Speaker 1:

I appreciate it, brother. Thank you, alex. Thank you for your time. One thing before we leave we do have a small tradition on our podcast, oh no, and so I'm having to share a mic with Eric. Watch this. Hey, Eric, did you hear the one about the termite that walked into the bar? First thing you said was is the bar tender here?

Speaker 2:

Oh my gosh. Thank you, Travis.

Speaker 1:

You're welcome. All right, again, thank you, alex, for your time. Eric, it's been awesome being in the same room as we are at the Midwinter Chiefs Conference in Concord, north Carolina, so if you are listening to this, you'll be able to find us through there. There's all kinds of fun stuff happening. But again, thank you for taking time, for listening to All Clear and, as we always say, light your fire within. You have been listening to All Clear. All Clear is presented by the North Carolina Firefighter Cancer Alliance and the first responders peer support network. This program is hosted and produced by Travis McGeach and Eric Stevenson. Visit our website, allclearpodcastcom, where you can contact us and leave feedback. If you like what you hear, please share this podcast with someone. The opinions of guests do not necessarily represent the views of the podcast. This podcast is recorded with Descript and with technology that is provided by Cortech Computers. We'll see you soon and, as always, light your fire within.

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