IAFF members are doing their part in creating support networks for military veterans to make their transition easier in the fire service.

Dwayne Harris, a member of Montgomery County, MD Local 1664 knows firsthand what a good support system can do.

A veteran of the Iraq war, Harris needed a place to discuss how challenging it was to transition back to civilian life. He was struck by how few support systems there were for veterans and decided he could make a difference.

Harris helped to establish the Montgomery County Band of Brothers, an organization that helps military veterans who serve as public safety officers get the resources they need to adjust being home. “We need to take care of our own because the public expects us to take care of them so it is time for us to start taking care of our own.”

There is a 20 percent rate of increase in the number of vets who commit suicide.The number has risen since 2001.

Many veterans who come back are dealing with post traumatic stress order (PSTD). Some common reactions  to trauma include: fear and anxiety, unwanted thoughts and avoidance. IAFF members who sat in on the session shared some of their experiences. Many said veterans handle things in their own way differently, but just knowing that someone understands what they’ve gone through helps them so much.

For more information about the Montgomery County Band of Brothers, visit montgomerycountybandofbrothers.org.