Help us help first responders and veterans through mental health issues.
Shane, retired first responder, and his service dog, Mat, “I have been shot three times. I have PTSD from things I have encountered over 28 years in my profession.”
Behavioral Health Conditions in First Responders and Veterans
It is estimated that 30% of first responders develop behavioral health conditions including but not limited to depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Nationally Police Officers die by suicide 1.7 times more than in the line of duty.
Firefighters die by suicide 2.32 times more than in the line of duty.
Every day 22 veterans lose their battle to post-traumatic stress on American soil.
This week as we celebrate National First Responders Day we again congratulate and thank the following people for making a difference. The First Responders Foundation was honored to induct University of Nebraska Ted Carter, Debbie and Jeff Bremer, Omaha Police Officers Association, Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association IAFF 385, and the American Legion Riders Post 374 into the Ancient Order of the National Society of St. Florian and St. Michael at the 5th Annual 9/11 Luncheon of Honor on September 10, 2021.
The Ancient Order of Saint Florian and Saint Michael is a society made up of members of the community who have provided long-term and exceptional service to first responders and their families through their enduring and exceptional acts of financial giving or acts of selfless volunteerism, and those who have made a great impact in the community.
University of Nebraska President Ted Carter
The First Responders Foundation is proud to honor University of Nebraska President Ted Carter.
President Ted Carter leads a four-campus university system that enrolls nearly 52,000 students and employs 16,000 faculty and staff on campuses in Lincoln, Omaha, and Kearney, plus academic divisions and research and extension centers across the state. He serves as chief spokesman and chief executive officer for the system, which operates on a $2.8 billion annual budget and includes a flagship Big Ten institution, a world-renowned academic health sciences center, Division I athletics programs, and preeminent institutes focused on water and agriculture, national security and defense, infectious disease and early childhood education.
Regent Jim Pillen states about President Carter, “Ted’s character and integrity are second to none. He has a proven focus on the success and well-being of students, faculty, and staff. He has a deep appreciation for the role and mission of higher education. And he is a public servant in every sense of the word”.
In his first year at the University of Nebraska
He faced the unexpected and unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19 – Carter has led with a focus on the land-grant priorities of access and opportunity for students and families. He launched the Nebraska Promise, a financial aid program guaranteeing free tuition for low and middle-income Nebraskans, and implemented a multi-year budget plan that included a two-year, across-the-board tuition freeze. The result was system-wide growth in enrollment, including record gains among underrepresented students.
Carter oversaw the awarding of a $92 million federal contract for the university’s National Strategic Research Institute, one of only 14 University-Affiliated Research Centers in the country conducting exclusive research for the Department of Defense. During Carter’s tenure, the NU system has been ranked among the world’s top 100 institutions for earning research patents, the Omaha campus was selected as the home for a new federal counterterrorism research center, the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources launched a new effort focused on rural vitality, and the medical center opened an education, training and preparedness facility that positions Nebraska as the world leader in the fight against infectious disease.
U.S. Naval Academy
A retired Vice Admiral, President Carter has a distinguished record in education, partnerships, and military service, having come to Nebraska from the U.S. Naval Academy, his alma mater, where he served as superintendent from 2014 to 2019. He is the longest continuously serving superintendent – the Naval Academy’s equivalent of a university president – by special request of the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations. Carter oversaw all functions of the institution, including leadership of 4,400 students and 1,500 faculty and staff, management of a $500 million budget, and oversight of academics, facilities, admissions, and policy. During his tenure, the academy was ranked the nation’s No. 1 public university by Forbes Magazine.
President Carter earned his bachelor’s degree in physics and oceanography.
He graduated from the Navy Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun) in Miramar, Calif., in 1985. Carter was commander for the Carrier Strike Group Twelve, in which he commanded 20 ships, two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, and two carrier air wings that were deployed to Afghanistan and the Arabian Gulf. He is a naval flight officer with more than 6,300 flying hours and has completed 2,016 carrier-arrested landings, an American record. He also has educational credentials from the 18-month-long Navy Nuclear Power School, the U.S. Air Force Air War College, the Naval War College, and the Armed Forces Staff College.
Carter authored the document that changed the Navy’s approach to suicide and sought to reduce stigmas around mental health issues. Suicide rates dropped by 25 percent a year after the steps outlined in Carter’s document were implemented.
President Carter, the son of an English teacher, was raised in Burrillville, R.I., a rural, one-high school town in the northwest corner of the state where he became an accomplished clarinetist and baritone saxophone player. He and his wife, Lynda, live in Lincoln and have two adult children, Brittany and Christopher.
Debbie and Jeff Bremer
The First Responders Foundation is proud to honor Debbie and Jeff Bremer.
The Bremer’s have been extremely supportive of the Foundation for many years. Debbie serves on the Board of Directors and is currently Vice Chairman of the Board.
Giving Back to the Community is Important to the Bremer’s
Debbie and Jeff Bremer have been married 32 years. They met in the restaurant business where they both worked in their early careers. Working for Simmonds Restaurant Management gave them an early on perspective about the industry and what it meant to be a local business and the importance of giving back to your community.
After moving around and working for larger restaurants Jeff and Debbie finally made their way back to Omaha where Debbie’s family roots are and where they wanted to raise their family.
Debbie and Jeff love being part of the Omaha community where they own 10 Taco John’s Restaurants (BRM), two in Omaha, one each in Columbus and Fremont, and two in Council Bluffs IA. They also own PIP Marketing, Signs & Print, and YESCO Sign and Lighting Company.
PIP Marketing, Signs, and Print is the Foundation’s printer of choice.
The Bremer’s have donated countless printing projects to the Foundation including all the materials and signage for the Annual 9/11 Luncheon of Honor, and the Annual Appreciation Lunches. As if that was not enough the Bremer’s have been collecting financial donations at each of their Taco John’s locations for years. Each restaurant has a collection box where people can donate loose change or more to the First Responders Foundation. It is a great way to raise money and increase awareness of the Foundation and it is a tangible way for people to honor local first responders. Over the years Taco John’s and customers have donated close to $30,000 to the Foundation.
Being generous is nothing new for the Bremer’s. They have quietly helped numerous employees who have run into tough times. For example, in 2020, Jeff gave a Taco John’s employee of 10 years a car when hers was totaled by an uninsured driver. April Mungia called Jeff, “her angel”. “Gracias desde el fondo de mi corazón, gracias,” she said with joyful tears running down her face. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
The Bremers tell us that giving back to the community is important to them and along with the First Responders Foundation other foundations/organization near and dear to them include, The Christopher Bremer Memorial Foundation, The YMCA, and Roncalli Catholic High School.
First Responders Foundation
Along with her board responsibilities for The First Responders Foundation, Debbie has served on the Omaha Executive Club, Omaha Executive Association, The Set Me Free Project Board, and The Christopher Bremer Memorial Foundation. Jeff serves on the Taco Johns Advisory Board as well as the ad production committee.
All of us at the First Responders Foundation would like to thank the Bremer’s from the bottom of our hearts as well.
Debbie and Jeff reside in Omaha. Their children are Jeff Jr, Christopher, and Alysha and they have 4 grandchildren. They both enjoy traveling, golf and family.
American Legion Riders Post 374
The First Responders Foundation is proud to honor the American Legion Riders Post 374.
The American Legion Riders Post 374 Supports JAVELAN in Significant Ways
The First Responders Foundation is honored to induct The American Legion Riders Post 374 Millard NE, due to their long and continued support of our JAVELAN Program. JAVELAN provides funding for service dogs for veterans and retired first responders. Over the last 4 years, the Millard riders have raised and donated over $18,000 in direct support of JAVELAN. They have given countless hours helping with fundraising and assisting with events. With no hesitation, they funded, almost entirely, a $1200 hypoallergenic puppy for a retired FBI officer requesting help gaining a service dog. This team of riders has unselfishly championed support in all aspects of what JAVELAN stands for and what it means. This group has shown great compassion for all veterans and first responders alike.
Their charity knows no end as they are also ardent supporters of the community.
They donate an annual stipend to the Nebraska State Patrol to assist in purchasing working dogs. They furnished much-needed supplies to the Millard West High School ROTC. Through the Moving Veterans Forward Organization, they organized a furniture drive to help get homeless veterans off the streets. The First Responders Foundation cannot thank them enough for all the assistance to JAVELAN and the community.
American Legion Riders
The American Legion Riders are comprised of men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces, and have been honorably discharged or are still serving currently, or are spouses of family members of veterans. Over 110,000 American Legion Riders meet in over 2,000 chapters in the United States and in three foreign countries. Riders in all states have escorted military units returning home from combat tours overseas, conducted massive cross-country fundraising events for wounded warriors from all services, and have raised millions of dollars for countless local, state, and national charities. True to the Legion’s grassroots tradition, each chapter manages its programs at the post (local) level, where each post knows what is best for their community.
The Original Charter of The American Legion Riders, Millard Chapter 374 was granted by The American Legion, Department of the State of Nebraska, on 18 April 2012. Since the start, this small group of brothers and sisters, which currently numbers less than 50 riders, has raised and donated over $78,000 to community and charitable Veteran causes.
Representing the American Legion Riders Post 374, and all Omaha area riders, at the 9/11 Luncheon of Honor, will be Post 374 ALR Director Steven Lahrs and Assistant Director Robert Rooney
First Responders Foundation in Omaha
Again, the First Responders Foundation and the JAVELAN Program sincerely thank the American Legion Riders Post 374 for their steadfast and continued support.
Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association, IAFF 385
The First Responders Foundation is proud to honor the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association, IAFF 385.
Honoring Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association, IAFF 385
The members of the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association, IAFF 385 serve the Omaha community and metro area tirelessly, committing to make our society as safe as possible with the highest integrity. These firefighters are there for all of us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
It takes a special person to become a firefighter.
When a fire breaks out or there is an explosion most people run in the opposite direction, but firefighters run toward the danger/disaster. Firefighters not only put out fires with hoses on the ground, but they also run through burning buildings, break out windows, cut people out of cars, and deal with oil spills and other hazardous material spills after accidents. All Omaha Firefighters are also Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and can take care of sick and injured people at the scene. They see and experience things that affect them both physically and mentally. Firefighters are courageous individuals who know things can and sometimes do go wrong but they still show up to work every day.
After the fire has been put out, the cause of the fire must be determined, whether it was an accident or arson. Firefighters must decipher what type of fire they are dealing with and each requires a different approach. Some fires are electrical or chemical, some include gases, oils, metals, or other liquids. They need to use their scientific knowledge of physics, engineering, and chemistry to determine how, when, and where the fire started. Some Omaha Fire Department firefighters are also law enforcement officers and can make an arrest when arson is determined to be the cause of a fire.
The IAFF 385 assists with the Tri-County Fire Corp.
This program is for students, ages 16-19 who are interested in careers in fire services. They are given the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities, and training in fire extinguishers, ropes and knots, hose rolls, search and rescue, ladders, hazmat awareness, and ventilation. They receive training and two certificates of completion, for CPR and for Stop the Bleed. On the last day of class, they actually put out a real car fire.
Omaha Firefighters are heroes.
We are grateful for these men and women who have answered this calling because they put our lives and the lives of those we love ahead of their own. They don’t get holidays off, they work long shifts to take care of our families often while leaving their own. Never a 9 to 5 and always on call, they live with the understanding that they will miss out on family moments and milestones to perform their duty. Being a firefighter isn’t about the glory or the money, it’s about how many lives you can change. For their courage and commitment, their service, and the sacrifices they make, they are heroes.
First Responders Foundation in Omaha and Council Bluffs
The First Responders Foundation thanks the Omaha Firefighters of the IAFF 385 for the job they do every day, taking risks to protect the citizens of the community. The Foundation would also like to thank their families who also face the possibility of the loss of a loved one.
The Omaha Police Officers Association
The First Responders Foundation is proud to honor the Omaha Police Officers Association.
Honoring the Omaha Police Officers Association
The members of the Omaha Police Officers Association serve the Omaha community and metro area tirelessly, committing to make our society as safe as possible with the highest integrity. These police officers are there for all of us to serve and protect, many times being a counselor, a mediator, medical provider, and/or a mentor. They respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week regardless of the reason, many times not knowing what they will find, and never able to unsee what they found. On our worst days, in an unfortunate situation, or when disaster strikes, the members of OPOA are there for us.
These brave men and women do all of this by choice.
Often they leave their family to protect our family. Over the last 20 months especially, their dedication has shown through as they have continued to serve while some of them were near death from COVID19, faced riots, disrespect, and hostility. Through it all, they still make the choice to be there for all citizens in our community. The Omaha Police Department answers an average of 250,000 emergency 911 calls each year. They arrive at the most pressing call in 5 minutes and 32 seconds, on average.
Omaha Police Officers are Heroes.
It is with respect and appreciation that we honor these heroes, the Omaha Police Officers Association Members. We are grateful for their service and they are highly appreciated. OPOA is a group of sworn members of the Omaha Police Department up to the rank of Captain. They are an FOP Lodge and a recognized collective bargaining group with the City of Omaha. They profess that “they love Omaha”. Their members are active in the community and they embody the community policing model.
The OPOA lives by the words: Honor. Dedication. Pride. Commitment. We thank them and honor them for making those words a reality in our community.
“It was hard to tell the difference between the fireworks in the neighborhood and the flashing lights of the approaching rescue squad.”
We had just finished dinner. The kids were scrambling to find shoes and run outside for the start of sparklers and the highly anticipated fireworks. It all changed in an instant. I will never forget the cry from my sister’s voice, “Call 911, Devin’s having a seizure.”
Sacrifice is a way of life for first responders. They respond when a call is received, leaving their own families to aid ours. First responder families sacrifice too because their loved one responds for our loved ones. In recognition of these sacrifices, the annual “Awards of Excellence” provides multiple $500 scholarships to high school seniors each spring. The recipients must have a parent who is a first responder and demonstrate outstanding commitment to their community. There is no better way to thank our first responders than to recognize their high school senior with a scholarship to help achieve their goals!
Congratulations to the graduates of the Tri-County Fire Corps Exploring Program
The First Responders Foundation congratulates the students who graduated from the Tri-County Fire Corps Exploring Program on Sunday, November 17th.
The Tri-County Fire Corps Exploring Program is a cooperative effort of the greater Omaha area fire departments, Metro Community College and the First Responders Foundation, in a public-private partnership. This program provides a unique opportunity for 16-19 year old youth to learn the skills necessary for a career in firefighting.
Mark your calendars for the June 28th Salute to First Responders Night and Whelen, Fire, Safety, and Police Night.
During intermission of the NASCAR Whelen Racing Series there will be two feature heats each with 2 police officers and 2 firefighters. The top 4 from those heats will race for the championship.
Racing for the Red Team:
Brad Lucas from the Omaha Fire Department
Matt Meyer from the Omaha Fire Department
Dustin Wyman for the Omaha Fire Department
Pat Wolf from the Omaha Fire Depaartment
The Captain of the Red Team in First Responders Foundation Vice President Mary Rosenthal.
Racing for the Blue Team:
Larry Schwartz from the Bellevue Police Department
Adam Smith from the Red Oak, IA Police Department
Dave Volenec from the Omaha Police Department
Matt Baughman from the Omaha Police Department and Pilot for Able 1
The Captain of the Blue Team is Jim Cahill Director of Security at NE Furniture Mart.
Who will make it to the finish line first! Come out and cheer on your TEAM!
There will be a reverse tribute lap before the race honoring all fallen first responders. Law enforcement and fire vehicles will take part in this lap. The OPD helicopter will also be overhead depending on weather and their availability. The National Anthem will be sung by David Volenec, one of the racers. At the end of the tribute lap and the national anthem, the OPD helicopter will do a flyover, stop, and bow to the crowd. The helicopter is scheduled to come back again during the races at intermission.
This event is a fundraiser for First Responders foundation. The money raised will go to the FRST Program (First Responders Foundation – First Responders Support Team) in honor of Jeremy Knott, OFD.
FRF will have merchandise for sale and other fun ways to support the foundation. Donations and purchases will help the First Responders Foundation continue to offer the programs and services that help first responders and their families in the metro area.
FREE Tickets for all First Responders. Contact Mary Rosenthal at email@example.com. Tickets must be obtained prior to the event.
This Friday at 7pm, there will be a special tribute to fallen Officer Kerrie Orozco & Deputy Mark Burbridge at the I-80 Speedway, featuring driver Jim Cahill doing a reverse tribute lap in his car (pictured below) followed by the Omaha Police Dept., Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Dept., Douglas County Sheriff’s Dept., Ralston Police Dept., Bellevue Police Dept., La Vista Police dept., Papillion Police Dept., and the Council Bluffs Police Dept.
Cahill’s race car is wrapped in graphics as a tribute to Deputy Mark Burbridge.
The First Responders Foundation will also be on hand to participate in the tribute lap and raise money to support area first responders.
The goal is to protect the citizens of Omaha in the event of a mass casualty incident. The project will outfit 24 of the City’s emergency response vehicles with life-saving kits that include items such as tourniquets, pressure dressings, decompression needles and more.
Officials announced Thursday that the project had met its funding goal in time for the College World Series.
The $25,000 project was funded thanks to donations from the public, along with funding and assistance from organizations such as the First Responders Foundation, CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy, Nebraska Medicine, MECA, the Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association, and Berkshire Hathaway Real Estate.
“We’re extremely thankful to the corporations that stepped up in support of this project, as well as the citizens of
Omaha who donated,” said project organizer and Omaha Firefighter Dustin Talacko. “With your support, Omaha is now better equipped to handle an unthinkable crisis, should one occur.”
As part the opening of their second location in Aksarben Center, My Pie Pizza vowed to donate 20% of all sales from Saturday, January 26th through Sunday, January 27th back to the First Responders Foundation.
“We didn’t get the best Omaha winter weather the week we opened, but we made the most of it that weekend. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to give back to the First Responders Foundation in whatever way possible,” said Blair Horner, Owner of My Pie Pizza.
Horner, and his daughter Anna Horner, General Manager, presented us with a check for $507 from the event.
“We are honored that My Pie Pizza chose the First Responders Foundation to partner with for their Grand Opening. We look forward to continuing this partnership in the future,” said Al Batschelet, President and CEO.