The Crash of 9525 – A Suicide Mission

by Renae Griggs

Renae Griggs
Renae Griggs

On March 24, 2015, Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed into the French Alps killing 149 passengers and crew, along with Andreas Lubitz ­ the copilot who, through skillful use of the autopilot supplemented by manual maneuvers of the plane’s speed, plowed the Airbus A320 into the mountainside. Headlines, news feeds, commentaries, and columns frenzied to somehow sanitize and characterize the horrible event for the public to more readily digest and have repeatedly referred to the copilot’s actions as “premeditated mass murder.”

Each time I see or hear it I have a visceral reaction to the attempt to neatly package in a sound bite what is an intensely complex psychological Rubik’s cube with implications far beyond airline passenger safety, pilot screening, and whether or not the industry needs to consider remote technological overrides. Continue reading The Crash of 9525 – A Suicide Mission

Press Release – April 27, 2015

Peggy Sweeney
The Sweeney Alliance

The Sweeney Alliance Receives Donation from Firefighters for Station House Retreat

Kerrville, Texas – Peggy Sweeney, founder and president of The Sweeney Alliance, a non-profit company, is pleased to announce that participants in the Indy on Fire event held on April 24, 2015 during FDIC in Indianapolis, made a generous donation of $700 which will go directly to assisting those firefighters who need help because they are struggling with an addiction, depression or job related stress.

Peggy Sweeney and her organization work closely with the Station House Retreat, a responder specific recovery facility located in Boynton Beach, Florida. This donation will help defray the cost of treatment, travel, co-pays and other related costs for those who can’t otherwise afford these expenses. Peggy and Station House Retreat are passionate about what they do together to help their brother and sister first responders.

We would like to thank Fire Critic, Iron, Model City and Firefighter Wife for hosting the event, as well as the party sponsors – Spartan, TECGEN, Fire Cam, Black Diamond and Viking. There were over 1,000 people in attendance.

This Retired Police Officer Shot His Daughters and Himself: Why

by Amelia Pang
Epoch Times

Amelia Pang
Amelia Pang

NEW YORK—It was hard to pinpoint when Glen Hochman’s mind began to unravel. Before he killed two of his teenage daughters, his three dogs, and himself during the early hours of Feb. 21, Hochman was a retired police officer who had received zero complaints during his 22-year career.

Throughout most of his career, Hochman’s job mainly consisted of pulling people over—an exasperating event for most drivers—yet those who knew him said Hochman’s kindly demeanor tended to put people at ease.

Three weeks after the murder−suicide, the Hochman’s driveway in Harrison is covered with deep layers of snow. There are no footprints, no signs of life. Their lost world is preserved inside; a row of delicately framed photographs of Hochman smiling, with his arms wrapped snugly around his brunette daughters and wife, are spread across a table behind the front door, as if to remind the family they were loved each time they entered or exited. Continue reading This Retired Police Officer Shot His Daughters and Himself: Why

Helping Children Cope with Critical Incidents

by Karen Solomon

Karen Solomon
Karen Solomon

You saw the news this week, Officer Jones was shot in the face, his wife is standing by his bedside and they are receiving support from the hospital staff and their friends. Did you hear about his kids? No, you didn’t. Unfortunately, we forget that many officers have families and there are children involved. We forget that they are also affected by the same circumstances as the spouse/parents of officers and they need help coping.

Too often, the children are whisked away to a safe place or information is kept from them in an effort to protect them and prevent them from being afraid. This very practice may amplify their fear and create long-term problems with children. Continue reading Helping Children Cope with Critical Incidents


Why is Dad So Mad?
by Seth Kastle
Company First Sergeant (retired)
US Army Reserve

kastleThe children’s issues picture book Why Is Dad So Mad? is a story for children in military families whose father battles with combat related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After a decade fighting wars on two fronts, tens of thousands of service members are coming home having trouble adjusting to civilian life; this includes struggling as parents.

Why Is Dad So Mad? Is a narrative story told from a family’s point of view (mother and children) of a service member who struggles with PTSD and its symptoms. Many service members deal with anger, forgetfulness, sleepless nights, and nightmares.This book explains these and how they affect Dad. The moral of the story is that even though Dad gets angry and yells, he still loves his family more than anything.

About the Author: Through my 16 years in the Army Reserve I served in many capacities culminating in my role as a Company First Sergeant.  I was deployed in January 2002 to Qatar, and then to Afghanistan for a total of eight months.  I was then deployed to Iraq in January 2003 until April 2004.  I have been married for nearly ten years now to my wonderful wife Julia, and we have two daughters; Raegan and Kennedy.  The topic of dealing with PTSD as a parent is something that is very close to my heart.  I have struggled with PTSD for ten years now, my daughters are young so who I am now is all they know.  I wrote the book Why is Dad So Mad? to try to help them understand why I am the way I am now.  This is not who I used to be, but it is who I am now; this is reality.  More than anything I want my daughters as well as the children of other services members to know that no matter what we, as fathers love them more than anything.  Things may not always be picture perfect , but as parents we will always be there for our kids. You may contact Seth through his website.

Silhouetted in Flame

by Anonymous Firefighter

Richard Charniga
An apartment fire in 1994 claimed the lives of two young children. Firefighters, including the author of this poem, were at this fire during a twenty-two inch blizzard. 

As the alarm comes in we all know it’s really bad.
The fire escapes are full of people who will soon lose everything they have ever had.
We run right in because we soon hear that two children are trapped in the second floor rear.

The firefighters are at the door silhouetted in flame.
Their attempts to make entry are made in vein.
We call for a hose to reach the fire floor but the fire will not wait and has decided to take more.
Two little lives that could not find the door.

And as this has not been enough to bear, we soon learn that the fire is now everywhere.
This heartless beast has won the first fight.
And tests our endurance until the first daylight.

Hours later frozen and beaten we start to win.
Now it is time to go back in.
We all know in a matter of time that someone will have to make that dreaded find.

It is late in the station house as I lay in my bed.
These visions I keep seeing will not leave my head.
We have all fought many fires and no two are the same.

I will never forget the one where the firefighters were silhouetted in flame.

Pride Kept Me from Reaching Out for Help

by James “Jimmy” Thomas
Police Officer, Shift Supervisor
Ontario, Canada Provincial Police

**very sensitive material for some readers**

As a police officer, we are hired for our Type A personalities. Within the sub-culture, we can quickly believe that we are “invincible” and don’t dare show vulnerability or mental illness. Canadian statistics show that 1 in 5 of us will suffer from a mental illness in our lifetime.

Jimmy Thomas
Jimmy Thomas

Thank you Peggy Sweeney, Don Prince and the Station House Retreat team for allowing me to contribute to their blog site. My story isn’t very different from many others in emergency services. Anyone working in the fire, medical or policing professions will see some horrific sights in their careers. Over time, some may become affected by the jobs that they are entrusted and expected to perform. That doesn’t make them weak or less than anyone else. It makes them human and for reasons yet to be clearly proven; some will become afflicted with an Operational Stress Injury. This is my story and a plea to never allow false pride to keep you from reaching out for help if you need it. Continue reading Pride Kept Me from Reaching Out for Help

Meet Billy Padden

Station House Retreat is proud to introduce

Billy Padden
Director of Recreation
Station House Retreat

Billy Padden
Billy Padden

Billy Padden attained his bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education from West Chester University. During his time at WCU, Billy achieved ambitious athletic goals, going on to claim two National Collegiate Boxing Championships and three All-American titles. Billy joins our team with an incredible amount of experience in the field of therapeutic physical activity and its effects on substance abuse recovery.

As a teacher, counselor and coach for the students of Glen Mills Schools, Billy developed his life’s passion of sharing the gifts of education and exercise with others. Later in his career, he worked as a Probation Officer for the City of Philadelphia, specifically lending his skills to the city’s Intensive Drug and Alcohol Unit. Billy became one of the department’s leading advocates for the development of addiction recovery-based programs in impoverished parts of North Philadelphia by leading the Philly B.A.D. (Boxers Against Drugs) Program at a local gym in the city’s Kensington section.

Billy’s coaching career provided him the opportunity to work with a vast array of individuals including mentally handicapped adults, Special Olympians and some of the world’s greatest elite athletes. He believes that physical activity at any level will enhance the addiction recovery process and improve overall quality of life. Today, Billy celebrates several years of sobriety.

*featured image – HBO’s Larry Merchant interviews Billy Padden after winning National Collegiate Boxing Championship

"Improving the lives of emergency response professionals"


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,032 other followers