[Wednesday Wellness] Helping the helpers: support for first responders and military personnel

Steven McClatchy, LPC, Living Well Counseling, Sherwood 

There are those in our midst dealing with some deep wounds they need help with but are unaware of how to get help or are afraid of being seen as weak. 

As a licensed counselor, I feel a call to support those who deal with people at the lowest points of their lives. As I started pursuing my ministry of counseling, I found that God walks us through the situations of life and helps us learn the lessons He wants to teach us. I had been in a career where I faced burnout and doors closing toward advancement.  

I Peter is one of the books to go to for a better understanding of suffering and why Christians may go through it at times in their lives.   

Peter starts chapter 4 of first Peter talking about the suffering Christ endured for us, yet we sometimes continue in the same behaviors we did before we put our faith in Christ. Peter goes on to admonish us to strive to serve our fellow man with respect, hospitality, and love in a way God has spoken to us.  

Some of the groups that God has drawn me to are military personnel, first responders, and their families. First responders have a special calling and often feel as though they have no one to turn to who understands their lives.   

The military serves with the duty to protect our interests as a nation. Sometimes that means they see and do things they cannot unsee. First responders encounter multiple events in a shift and generally interact with individuals on their worst days. In today’s world, these professionals must be on high alert when they answer a call for service.   

Historically, both groups have been told to “suck it up,” and “don’t show any emotion.” It is evident by the number of broken families and suicides among these populations that sucking it up without emotion is not a healthy way to cope. Most departments and higher ranks are discovering the importance of mental health, and finally perceive it as a sign of strength, not weakness, to admit they need help and guidance.   

Christ tells us to allow Him to carry our burdens and hurts and He will give us his load which is much easier to bear (see Matthew 11:28-30). As a Christian counselor, I see part of my ministry as helping first responders and military personnel unpack some of that load in a safe, healthy way. Galatians 6:2 tells us we should carry each other’s burdens. At times a friend or colleague can provide that but when the burden is too big, sometimes it is better to seek professional help. It can be hard to ask for help when you are trained and accustomed to being the one providing help to others.  

If you know someone in one of these groups let them know they have your support. Remember that part of that support is helping them get all the help they need to live a healthy, emotional life.  

Share this article


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *