Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Montgomery County Band of Brothers

By: Fire Fighter Dwayne Harris, President Montgomery County Band of Brothers

Montgomery County Band of Brothers I am a Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom serving there in 2004 - 2005. Many of you may not be aware that a number of Iraq and Afghanistan War Vets serve in MCFRS and Montgomery County Police (MCPD).

The military estimates that more than 20% of the more than 2 million men and women deployed, suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There is an alarming number of Vets committing suicide because they are not getting the care they desperately need. As a firefighter or police officer, we are part of a brotherhood. It would be tragic if "one of our own" committed suicide because of the lingering wounds that are unseen. There is a pattern of need, unrecognized or misinterpreted problems, lack of adequate help and downward spiraling difficulties.

I faced the “baggage” I brought home in April 2010, after running from it for 5 years and finding different coping mechanisms to put it behind me. Little did I know that it was all lies. I was lying to myself acting like it was all okay and all the while feeling like I was slowly losing control. I began to see Dr Beasley, the MCFRS psychologist, who has worked with Vets from the first Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Once I started down the road to recovery, I had a vision of a group being formed with the message that “you do not have to run and fight it alone.” Several people had expressed an interest in having the chance to talk with other public safety Vets in a confidential setting about their time in service. They feel the need to meet and to talk privately with others who have this military experience in common. Dr. Beasley asked me what I thought about possibly starting a public safety Veterans support group. I was instantly on a mission.

Fire Fighter Dwayne Harris w/ Iraqi kids during his tour of dutyA friend led me to MCFRS Lieutenant Sam Villani (Don’t Panic Foundation) and he showed me how to get this group started. He assisted me with the “Montgomery County Band of Brothers” becoming a non profit organization. A fellow fire fighter from my Recruit Class, Joshua Hart, and I talked and he was interested in forming the group and has the same passion as I do. We got by-laws written; resolutions drawn up and have had two meetings already. The most current had two guest speakers attend.

We will have our first fund raiser on January 28th at Winston’s Sports CafĂ©,
1776 E. Jefferson Street in Rockville, from to .  All are invited to attend.  


Susan Hawfield, Executive Director said...

As a diabetic who started a support group in my church for others suffering from this disease, I want to commend you for starting "Montgomery County Band of Brothers." Our little support group has made a profound impact on those who participate. I am sure you will find the same thing. We should never go through life feeling like we are alone or that there is no one else experiencing whatever our struggle or loss is.

I also wanted to let you know that Rebuilding Together serves veterans who may have home repair needs. The applicant must own their home, reside in it and meet our income eligibility guidelines. We do everything from small handyman jobs such as installing grab bars to major system or structural repairs such as roofs, furnaces, etc. You can go to for more information. Our services are at no cost. Please pass this information on to your contacts.

billd said...

Thanks Susan for the kind remarks and the information. I will pass along to Dwayne.