IAFF to open behavioral health treatment center for firefighters, paramedics

The 15-acre facility, opening in 2017, will treat firefighters who suffer from PTSD


By International Association of Firefighters

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, Md. — Few if any callings subject our members to more stress and trauma than serving as a firefighter or paramedic.

Whether it’s responding to a grisly accident, working to save the lives of others, being in a life-threatening situation or dealing with constant alarms, IAFF members face challenges that are virtually unknown to the public. 

“As I travel across our two great countries, I hear first-hand about the struggles some of us face with post-traumatic stress,” IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger said. “It’s a condition that affects our members at double the rate of the general population. But there have been few programs to address it.”

As more members are experiencing post-traumatic stress, the IAFF has undertaken an intensive effort to remove the stigma associated with behavioral health issues and provide resources for treatment and recovery.

In continuing efforts to provide resources to help members suffering from post-traumatic stress, the International is developing the IAFF Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery. The concept is the first of its kind for this profession and this union, and a tremendous opportunity to build a program and facility to address post-traumatic stress in a residential setting and designed specifically for treating firefighters with post-traumatic stress and its co-occurring addictions, as well as to conduct additional research and develop new programs and protocols.

With the help of Advanced Recovery Systems — a leader in behavioral health care management — the Center of Excellence will be staffed by a highly experienced team to treat the complex needs of our members seeking recovery.

Both the IAFF and ARS share a commitment that members not be burdened with large or unexpected expenses after treatment, and have made it a priority to ensure all members can afford treatment. The IAFF is already reaching out to major insurance carriers to promote insurance coverage for this level of care. In some jurisdictions, current insurance plans already provide comprehensive coverage.

“The IAFF Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery will be there for our members — and our members only — to receive the help they need in taking the first steps toward recovery,” says Schaitberger. “Nothing matters more than our members’ health, and this is a critically important action that puts their health and well-being first.”

Located just outside Washington, DC in Prince George’s County, Maryland, construction is well underway for the 15-acre facility. Opening in January 2017, it will help members across North America.

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