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First Responders Foundation hosts luncheon in Omaha to honor 9/11 victims

The luncheon was held at the Omaha Marriott downtown with over a hundred people attending.
Posted at 7:07 PM, Sep 11, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — A community came together at the Omaha Marriott downtown on Monday to honor the lives lost on 9/11. The First Responders Foundation honored those who lost their lives 22 years ago during a luncheon.

The room was filled with first responders; the first people on the scene of almost any tragedy.

"We focus on mental health and physical health for first responders, veterans, and families at this point," Todd Sears, president of the First Responders Foundation.

The group also addressed a prominent issue within their community — mental health.

"There is a drastic need, especially in the mental health side, for first responders," Sears said.

It also goes beyond the responders. Sears says families are impacted just as much.

"We have a clinical psychologist that focuses on spouses and children of first responders. They're experiencing the same type of stressors as their first responder," he said.

While getting help is critical, education is also important. Omaha Fire Department Captain Justin Cooley lost a fellow firefighter to suicide in 2019. He says building awareness is one of the most important things to addressing mental health.

"The more that we can share and educate — and putting ourselves in that position of being vulnerable. And letting other people know we have normal reactions just like everyone else. It's a cumulative trauma we endure throughout our careers," Cooley said.

Sears says just a simple kind gesture can make someone's day.

"Any first responder you see, just tell them thank you because that means a lot."

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