Fort Worth and Its Police and Fire Depts. Partner on ‘Moral Injury’ Support Program

Moral injury is the damage done to one’s conscience or moral compass when a person perpetrates, witnesses, or fails to prevent acts that transgress one’s own moral beliefs, values, or ethical codes of conduct, the city noted.

A groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind initiative in wellness support for first responders has been launched in Fort Worth.

Called R-3 — Respond, Restore, Resolve — the initiative was announced by Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker, along with Police Chief Neil Noakes, Fire Chief Jim Davis, and the American Warrior Association, at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex.

“We’ve worked closely with all levels within our fire and police departments to ensure R3’s impactful deployment,” Parker said in a statement. “It’s time to change the stigma around mental health and start encouraging proactive mental health conversations to address the pain and anguish our first responders experience every day. This program can be one of the most monumental public-private partnerships of our time.”

The city said the initiative marks a significant milestone in wellness support by establishing a comprehensive approach to addressing moral injury. All programs associated with R3 are privately funded.

Defining ‘moral injury’—and offering a holistic approach to help heal it

Moral injury is the damage done to one’s conscience or moral compass when a person perpetrates, witnesses, or fails to prevent acts that transgress one’s own moral beliefs, values, or ethical codes of conduct, the. city noted.

The initiative focuses on a holistic approach to wellness by integrating mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual support to address moral injury. Training, access to non-clinical preventative care resources, and culturally competent counseling will be provided, all with a goal to eliminate potential stigma and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of departmental support, the city said.

“Even before the formalization of this program, we’ve had officers attend this groundbreaking training with significant positive outcomes,” Noakes said in a statement. “This training program can be life-changing and enables our folks to ultimately be better equipped to manage morally injurious events and provide our officers with expanded skills for managing public interactions.”

Benefits of R3 and future expansion

R3’s benefits extend across all fronts, the city said.

First responders gain access to crucial tools and resources enabling them to address moral injury, ultimately fostering resilience and well-being. For departments and agencies, the program promotes a healthier workforce, leading to reduced absenteeism and improved overall performance and morale, the city said.

The program will directly benefit the community, the city said, by enhancing officers’ mental strength to de-escalate situations, ultimately strengthening relationships between first responders and the communities they serve.

“The health and wellness of our members is our top priority. We’re excited to partner with the AWA to provide additional opportunities for building a more resilient workforce,” Davis said in a statement. “We appreciate their dedication to the men and women of the Fort Worth Fire Department.”

The city said that the AWA’s dedication to supporting military members, veterans, and first responders is the foundation of the R3 program.

Provides a spectrum of support programs

By providing a spectrum of support programs, the AWA champions the well-being of the first responders, aligning with R3’s mission to offer comprehensive, holistic support. The city said that additional partner organizations and programs will be reviewed and approved via the R3 Partner Vetting Committee within the Police and Fire Department Wellness Unit, which houses the R3 Program.

Based in Fort Worth, the R3 program is designed for scalability with the AWA at the helm to guide its future expansion across the nation. The program serves as a model for addressing first responder wellness, ensuring communities everywhere can benefit from its innovative approach, the organizations said.

The AWA has also curated and underwritten a Culturally Competent Counseling program for both the fire and police departments, the city said. That program is run through the AWA and its network of counselors to assure the confidentiality of employees seeking counseling.

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