The Porter County Community Foundation (PCCF) has awarded an $11,000 grant to the Multi Agency Academic Cooperative (MAAC) Foundation to support their First Responders Mental Health Initiative. The funds will help integrate mental health resources into the existing MAAC Foundation offerings including bringing international speaker military/first responder health and wellness advocate, Travis Howze.

Howze is a touring speaker, author, and motivational wellness educator who spent 14 years in the military and emergency services as a U.S. Marine, police officer and firefighter, and he will be hosting an empowering course on leadership, mental wellness and resiliency.

The First Responder Mental Health Initiative is guided by a leadership committee representing fire departments, law enforcement agencies, emergency medicine service professionals, hospital system leaders, clinicians and chaplains.

President and CEO of the MAAC Foundation, Celina Weatherwax said, “We are incredibly grateful to the Porter County Community Foundation for their generous support. This grant will allow us to expand training opportunities and resources to include mental health and resiliency to continue positively impacting the first responder community.”

Constant exposure to traumatic events, life-threatening situations, working long hours away from family members and living under high-stakes conditions all contribute to an increased risk of mental health conditions and suicide rates. Rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression for firefighters and police officers are as much as five times greater than the general population, according to statistics posted by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

“First responder careers are known for being dangerous and physically demanding, but the conversation is just getting started about the mental and emotional challenges these roles present. Porter County Community Foundation is proud to support our first responders and this mental health initiative,” said President and CEO of PCCF, Bill Higbie.