Podcast weblog: A career in law enforcement is one of the most rewarding, challenging, and selfless professions out there. The Guns and Yoga podcast explores the intersection between the impact a first responder career can have on those on the job, their families, and the importance of adopting and maintaining a holistic lifestyle. Wendy Hummell is a seasoned law enforcement officer in the Midwest with close to 25 years experience. She is a LEO spouse, mother, and wellness enthusiast. She knows first-hand the difficulties this line of work can bring. For the past decade, Wendy has been exploring various ways to improve her emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical well – being. She continues to learn and has a passion for sharing these tools to improve the quality of life not only for herself and her family, but for all first responders. Wendy is a certified yoga and meditation instructor. She teaches yoga, mindfulness, and resiliency to first responders at her current agency where she works as the Health and Wellness Coordinator. She also teaches throughout the state of Kansas and other national platforms. Wendy retired from the Wichita Police Department in 2019 at the rank of Detective where she spent a majority of her career working persons crimes. The intention of this podcast is to add value, provide support, and share resources by providing a platform for honest conversations with first responders, family members, retirees, and wellness experts. Whether you are a law enforcement officer, work in corrections, dispatch, Fire, EMS, The Prosecutors Office, the Coroners Officer, are a member of the military, family member or anyone who supports front line workers, please subscribe today and hear hear the stories of these brave men and women, the challenges and difficulties they have faced; the wonderful programs, people, and resources available to support first responders.
Tuesday Jan 10, 2023
Tuesday Jan 10, 2023
Today you will hear a conversation I had with Karen Solomon, a pioneer on the first responder wellness front. Karen is the founder of BLUE HELP, a non profit organization that started tracking LE suicides in 2016. The organization also aims to reduce mental health stigma through education, advocate for benefits for those suffering from post-traumatic stress, acknowledge the service and sacrifice of LE officers we lost to suicide, support families after suicide and bring awareness to suicide and mental health issues.
Karen tells us how BLUE HELP was created because of a gap in the support for police families who had lost a loved one to suicide; so she began sending care packages to families and began tracking the number of LE suicides.
Karen tells the story of how she connected with other police officers by way of an online police wives group, since she herself is married to a police officer. This connection and Karen’s personal experience with suicide led to her writing two books, Hearts Beneath the Badge and The Price They Pay, and expanding BLUE HELP to FIRST HELP which began tracking fire, paramedic, and telecommunicator suicides last year. She is a national speaker, advocate for federal legislation that impacts suicide survivor families, and a contributing columnist to several first responder publications.
I recently had the opportunity to take training offered by FIRST HELP. A colleague with the Fire Dept. arranged for this free training to come to my area in Wichita KS. Responder Readiness is an 8 hour course that First Help Offers to agencies upon request free of charge. Check the website for further information and other training they offer. The trainer, Mike Marotta, is a United States Air Force veteran and veteran LEO. He spent the day discussing stress, trauma, and the tools we can implement to optimize our performance. I really enjoyed speaking from Mike and always value connecting with those committed to first responder mental health and wellness.
First Help is a top-notch organization committed serving first responders and their families. I hope you enjoy this episode and understand that one person truly can make a difference. Karen will tell you she doesn’t do it alone, but she is an integral part of the organization. The impact and ripple effect of her work will never truly be known.