BIGFORK - This week, 22 years after 9/11, is a week to think of the first responder community.
First responders are faced with traumatic experiences often in their day-to-day job.
Travis Gribble uses his organization, My Arena, to spread awareness of mental trauma and illness in the first responder industry, and on Saturday, Sept. 16, Gribble will be presenting in Bigfork. The My Arena presentation will run from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. for both veterans and first responders.
- RELATED: My Arena visits Montana State Prison to talk about mental health and PTSD
- RELATED: Organization My Arena promotes mental health support for first responders
Gribble shares his own experience with PTSD and therapy, while a psychologist chosen by My Arena explains clinical symptoms and treatment options.
"Especially those who have defended our country, those who serve our community, it is so incredibly important for them to be equipped with not only physical strength and bravery and courage, but also emotional strength and emotional bravery and courage, but also emotional strength and emotional bravery and just to have the courage to step up and tell somebody else, or even tell themselves, it's okay to not be okay," My Arena publicist Taylor Huntman says.
Saturday will include both active and retiree first responders and military service members. While Gribble does not usually speak to veterans, Huntman says they often coincide with the first responder community, making up about 25%.
“So they’re already coming into this pretty highly traumatic field with their own set of trauma,” Huntsman says.
Following the morning presentation, there will be a My Arena family event, where loved ones of the first responders are invited to join in the conversation. Including the families in the healing process is part of My Arena’s mission, according to Huntman.
“So what we’re hoping to do by bringing the families in, is not only help them support them through their first responder’s career, but also help them navigate what’s it like to deal with someone with post-traumatic stress, with PTSD, and help them support their first responder or veteran, so that they can be stronger as a family,” she says.
The family event will be from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday. The day’s events are free to attendees, and people interested can sign up through My Arena.
To support My Arena, organizations or individuals can sponsor their events, more information for which is on their website. People can also purchase merchandise, and $5 of each purchase goes to The Overwatch Collective, an organization that provides free and specialized therapy to first responders.