The Code 9 Project aims to prevent suicide & PTSD in veterans, first responders

Posted at 12:58 PM, Sep 14, 2020

BELL COUNTY — Pillars in the community, many may not consider veterans, first responders and law enforcement vulnerable to PTSD and suicide; but coming to their community's rescue during some of our darkest moments, can take its toll.

The Code 9 Project, a nonprofit supporting first responders, veterans, officers and their families aim to support the many who keep our communities running.

"In 2010 you couldn't even speak about PTSD, I mean this was something, this was something so incredibly stigmatic and it still is as well as suicide however we can utter these words now and there's a level of intention and a level of awareness that's raised," said first responder, trauma survivor and President of The Code 9 Project, Bandielee Baker.

"Oftentimes even if departments have the greatest resources available, officers, first responders, don't feel comfortable using them for obvious reasons right, we have our own embarrassment, we're concerned about our careers, and the effect it may have on our career," said Baker.

Because no shift is the same, The Code 9 Project aims to provide stress education programs for responders across the nation.

25 News reached out to agencies across the region to understand what an average day looks like for a local first responder.

"We'll all say every day is different, every day is not the same, we really don't know what we'll do that day," said Bell County Sheriffs Deputy Josh Cruz.

"Stabbings shootings, we're the ones who respond to these calls, we're the ones that are first on the scene to help with these people, we're, you know, their first line of hope," said Deputy Cruz.

Putting in perspective the unpredictability and stressors each shift has the potential to bring.

The Code 9 Project offers a peer-run hot-line to help alleviate stress frontline workers may experience, on, and off shift.

"Whether you're on duty or off, you have have a confidante and its entirely confidential, we are not affiliated with departments and that's the real important thing about The Code 9 Project," said Baker.

24 hours a day, seven days a week, The Code 9 Project is always within reach at 844-HOPE-247.

A 122-mile walk from Mount Pleasant to Dallas will take place starting Monday, September 28 through October 3. Called 'Strides for Blue 122' the walk is in honor and solidarity for every first responder, officer and veteran silently suffering past, present or future.

To get involved, seek support, or give back to The Code 9 Project more information can be found at THECODE9PROJECT.ORG.