The tough part of being connected with the Wildland Firefighters Foundation is that you are probably here because you have experienced loss and/or trauma. Part of being human, being alive, means we all experience loss and trauma. Loss and trauma can be devastating. The support you need on this journey to hope and healing is here at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. We care and you are not alone. No matter the transformative life event, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is always there for our wildland community. We work to bridge the gap of resources not already provided by the government during these challenging and difficult times. Below is a list of our programs tailored to meet the unique needs of the wildland community. We continually create, measure and refine our program offerings guaranteeing the wildland community receive the best care and support possible.
YOU WILL NOT STAND ALONE: Wildland Firefighter Foundation partners with this interagency course to critical incident management that provides guidelines for agency administrators, employees, family members and others who have been impacted by a critical incident. Tragedies mostly occur suddenly and without warning. For that reason, pre-incident planning and training are invaluable. Preparing “our best” for the “the worst” can help to stabilize an otherwise intense situation.
CAMP HOPE: When a wildland firefighter dies, he or she often leave behind a grieving family, including grieving children. Camp HOPE is a retreat for wildland children to connect, to heal, to find hope in moving forward with their lives. Wildland children are paired with a wildland firefighter buddy who will accompany them to camp and will be a connecting, supportive presence for the grieving child.
GRIEF AND BEREAVEMENT: The Foundation employs a grief recovery specialist who helps grieving families on their journey to healing. We have an annual “Family Fire Weekend” every third weekend in May in which surviving families gather in Boise, Idaho to honor and remember, to grieve and to heal. The Foundation also publishes a quarterly newsletter specifically for surviving families.
TRAGEDY ASSISTANCE: When a wildland firefighter is injured or becomes critically ill, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation provides financial and logistical support so the firefighter’s focus can be on healing. For those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, we stand behind their family during this time of crisis. Wildland firefighter families often do not receive any benefits after a fatality for up to 3 months. Immediate financial assistance is provided to the surviving family by the Foundation to help cover costs associated with the dignified transfer of remains and memorial services, as well as travel expenses for immediate and extended family through a responsive and personalized system of care. We do not have strict directives defining how we help, rather, we take each family’s need into consideration, on an incident by incident basis. The Foundation continues to support surviving families in the years following their loss through ongoing financial assistance, specialized camps, retreats, and bereavement activities.
TRAUMA/PTSD/WELLNESS: We work with the long term trauma effects on wildland firefighters who are exposed to horrific incidents when a firefighter is killed or seriously injured while fighting fires. We recognize that trauma and PTSD are injuries to a person’s nervous system, just like any other physical injury. We help pay for counseling and/or we provide counseling with our on-staff trauma therapist and serve as a resource hub for quality referrals to community care. We educate the wildland community about the impact of stigma, the importance of peer-support, best practices in treating trauma and the importance of self care and creating a lifestyle that’s about wellness.
SUICIDE PREVENTION AND RESILIENCE: We all can take action to help prevent suicide, but many people don’t know what they can do to support the wildland firefighter in their life who is going through a difficult time. Our, “One Foot in the Black” suicide prevention and resilience program speaks honestly and directly to wildland firefighters and their families about the importance of recognizing the warning signs of suicide, the risk and protective factors, how to talk with someone who is feeling suicidal and how to build and sustain a life worth living.
SANTA’S HELPER: We maintain a dedicated fund so that each year, we provide an extra helping hand to wildland children who have lost a parent, have an injured parent or who have a parent experiencing financial hardship enjoy a brighter Christmas.
LEGACY PRESERVATION: The history and legacy of the wildland community is one of extraordinary accomplishments, high performance and exceptional courage. The deeds of these firefighters deserve to be remembered and recognized. We are proud to post their pictures on our website and the walls of the Foundation are graced with their photos. The Foundation provides financial support for memorials and monuments across the country and we are in the process of creating an interpretive center to educate the public about wildland firefighters and the lands they protect.