Meet Cari and Daisy – JAVELAN’S 100th Team!

Cari Woelich and Daisy recently graduated from the JAVELAN Program, a program of the First Responders Foundation that trains service dogs for veterans and retired first responders.

Cari is so thankful to the JAVELAN Program and says that “Daisy gave her, her life back”! Cari and 2-year-old Labradoodle, Daisy, are the 100th Team that has graduated from the JAVELAN Program.

“We knew there was a need, but we had no idea how great a need”.

Tim McAlpine, former JAVELAN Director and one of the program founders said, “We knew there was a need, but we had no idea how great a need”. Cari didn’t realize she needed Daisy. She was used to her life and the way she was living. She said she was almost agoraphobic, anxious about being in a place or 

Danielle, Cari and Daisy, Mike, Tim and Mary McAlpine with General Patton

situation where escape is difficult. All of this was due to injuries sustained while serving in the military.

Cari joined the U.S. Air Force on May 30, 2000.  Cari, an Air Force Staff Sgt., was injured on the border of Iraq and Kuwait. Her injuries caused permanent damage to both of her knees, her spinal column, and her wrist and also caused hearing loss along with migraine headaches. Cari was medically retired in June of 2007 due to PTSD from the incident and she has been declared 100% permanently disabled.

Pictured here from left to right is Danielle Markins, trainer, with her dog ZZ, Cari and Daisy, Mike Kraus, Dir. of the JAVELAN Program, Tim McAlpine, former Dir. of the JAVELAN Program with his dog, General Patton & his wife Mary McAlpine.

After retiring, Cari didn’t go many places. When she did venture outside she took her oldest son, Alex, with her.  They would go to the store and Cari would sit in the car and tell her son what to buy. She didn’t realize how limiting her situation was to her life or her son’s life as she had become accustomed to it. Alex, whom Cari describes as a “great kid” did not mind helping with whatever his mom needed.

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Teaching Mental & Physical Wellness in Spencer, IA

The First Responders Foundation recently provided free Behavioral Health and Physical health classes in Spencer, IA.

Jason Workman, Director of Behavioral Health shared, “Really enjoyed training with the First Responders and spouses in Spencer IA this week. It was a great time with Fire, police, and Sheriff’s Offices from surrounding communities attending resiliency training and Spouses benefited from their own workshop.”

Enjoy this article from The Spencer Reporter.

Mental and physical wellness _ The Daily Reporter

Mason Ingram, 2021 Awards of Excellence Recipient, Becoming A Firefighter.

Mason Ingram was a recipient of the Awards of Excellence in 2021. We sat down with Mason to see how his first year out of high school is going and how the Awards of Excellence helped him get started with his future plans.

For as long as he can remember, Mason has wanted to be a firefighter.

For as long as he can remember, Mason has wanted to be a firefighter. His grandfather was a volunteer firefighter for Papillion while his father was younger and now his father is an Omaha Firefighter. Mason used his Award of Excellence to continue his pursuit of the Fire Services.

Just this past spring Mason completed his Firefighter 1 Certification and he is also now officially an EMT after completing his course this past fall. He is taking classes at Metro Community College on three of the campuses in the metro area. Along with fire classes, he is taking his general eds. He got a jump start on the process by taking classes in high school at Bellevue West for college credit. He is about halfway through the classes he can take at Metro before transferring to a 4-year college.  Mason anticipates he will attend UNO in the future where he will pursue a degree in Emergency Management or Fire Protection.

Mason participated in the Tri-County Fire Explorers program that the First Responders Foundation supports.

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New Director of JAVELAN, Welcoming Mike Kraus

The First Responders Foundation is honored to welcome Mike Kraus as the new Director of JAVELAN. The JAVELAN Program provides funding for service dogs and dog training for military veterans and retired first responders.

Mike has a deep, visceral and untamed love for his country and for those who defend her on a daily basis.

September 11, 2001 impacted every American in a unique, different way, and the same can be said for Mike Kraus. Just in 5th grade, the live videos, images and comments he heard that day wouldn’t be felt until years later until he learned why billions of people around the world love the United States of America, and why billions of other people hate the U.S.A. – because of the freedoms we have been given by God and secured by the men and women of our armed forces. It is because of this reason Mike has felt a deep, visceral and untamed love for his country and for those who defend her on a daily basis.

Jack Assisting Veterans Enjoy Life AgaiN (JAVELAN) is a niche program, founded by passionate Veterans and civilians alike, whose mission is to “enrich the lives of lives of first responders and Veterans, by enabling independence and life-changing support” and because of this commitment to our Nation’s Heroes, Mike appreciates this program.

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Being Open About Mental Health Issues

I am so very thankful for the First Responder Foundation and the platform they gave me to tell my story. Helping First Responders By Being Open About Trials & Troubles was the first blog post written by Police Officer Stephen.

After that article was posted, my wife and I were given the opportunity to go on two separate podcasts, and the number of messages I received was astounding. The number one question I got, however, was “How can I help”? So that got me thinking. What can we do to help our brothers and sisters to be open about mental health issues?

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The American Legion Riders Post 374 Supports JAVELAN in Significant Ways

The First Responders Foundation is honored to be inducting The American Legion Riders Post 374 Millard NE into the Ancient Society of St. Florian and St. Michael at the 5th Annual 9/11 Luncheon of Honor on September 10, 2021. 

Each year the First Responders Foundation selects community members and/or organizations to induct into the Ancient Order of Saint Florian and Saint Michael. This honor is reserved for those who have provided long-term and exceptional service to first responders, veterans, and their families through their enduring and exceptional acts of financial giving or acts of selfless volunteerism. 

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Helping First Responders By Being Open About Trials and Troubles

In his own words from Police Officer Stephen:

And I thought to myself that if any of those people had been open about their trials and troubles, it would have made this journey so much easier for me….

When I was a small child I looked at police officers as heroes. Strong men and women that were always there when we needed them. I remember living in an apartment as a small child, and this one officer used to run radar right by my building. Spent countless days talking to him, bringing him some of my Halloween candy, asking a million and one questions. I was that annoying kid. But God, they were superheroes. 

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Law Enforcement Jiu-Jitsu Training at the FRF

Brian Bonifas Brings Law Enforcement Jiu-Jitsu Training to FRF

Our newest addition to the First Responders Foundation, Brian Bonifas, brings a unique approach to fulfilling our mission, “To serve and honor all our First Responders, Veterans, and their families, build appreciation and respect for their work and enhance public safety.” Brian is teaching Law Enforcement Jiu-Jitsu Training with the goal of keeping officers safe and providing non-violent control options during arrest situations in the greater Omaha area.

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What about First Responders Mental Health Needs?

 Talking to First Responders about THEIR Mental Health Awareness

May is mental health awareness month.  You probably don’t need anyone to tell you there are mental health needs out there—you see it every day in the public. There are hospitals and therapists and doctors to help people.  And it’s also your job to help people, and you do it every day.

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Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors Save Lives!

If you’ve ever wondered how important smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in homes, here are some life-saving examples.  These are devices we most often take for granted.

Francisco and Fidela needed a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector. They reached out to their son, Captain Lara of the Omaha Fire Department. They fit the criteria for eligibility to receive the detector from the First Responders Foundation and the Omaha Fire Department by owning their home and being physically or financially unable to provide it themselves. The Omaha Fire Department made a visit to their home and installed the detector in their living room.

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