News: Arizona Guard provides veteran insight to Phoenix FD
Story by Sgt. Lauren Twigg
PHOENIX - More than 300 members of the Phoenix Fire Department attended ‘Hometown to Heroes’ culture training, hosted by the Arizona National Guard’s Total Force Team here, Jan. 11 and 12.
The event served to raise awareness about service members and veterans, emphasizing how to handle their unique situations as well as care for them when they are having difficulty coping with what they have experienced.
“The Phoenix Fire Department responds to more than 100,000 emergency medical calls each year,” said Dr. John V. Gallagher, M.D., Emergency Medical Services Director for Phoenix FD. “When we must respond to a call where a veteran is in need of some assistance, this training helps our personnel get a better understanding as to what they went through, why they exhibit these behaviors, and we can have more of an appreciation for how they should be cared for.”
The Total Force Team, comprised of Army, Air Force and civilian members, was recently established by the Arizona National Guard. The TFT provides resources for service members and their families in the areas of support and assistance.
“The Total Force Team covers all other programs within the Guard to assist guardsmen with resilience,” said Sgt. Mario Aguirre, a member of the Total Force Team. “Resilience covers everything within our Guard and ensures our service members, veterans and their families get the help they need.”
Guest speakers included the Arizona National Guard’s adjutant general, members from the Phoenix Fire Department, Arizona Department of Veteran Health Services, Arizona National Guard Total Force Team, as well as veterans who had served and sustained trauma or injury during combat.
“In 2010, our state rose above the national rate of military and veteran suicides,” said Thomas Winkel, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and Arizona National Guard, and a speaker during the event. “As we have been proudly below the national rate in the past, we are now faced with the challenge of trying to reach out to all Guard members and their families.”
Currently, there are more than 600,000 veterans within the state of Arizona, which is about 10% of the state population.
“As Iraq closes, we will expect to have more veterans here in Arizona,” Gallagher said. “This culture training is going to improve our ability to support our veterans and give them the treatment they deserve.”
For more information about the programs offered by the Total Force Team, visit http://www.azguard.gov/resilience/be-resilient.html