A regional effort to fight veteran suicide will get some high-profile assistance Tuesday, March 9, when THE PLAYERS Championship features it as the charity of the day on its platform.
The Fire Watch is a program designed to get at-risk veterans the support they need while there’s still time. It was created as part of an interlocal agreement between Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties.
Fire Watch Executive Director Nick Howland said he was thrilled by THE PLAYERS’ support.
“THE PLAYERS will allow us to increase awareness of our programming, which is all about veteran suicide prevention,” he said. “Our marquee program is our Watch Stander program, which is an early intervention, gate-keeper training program that involves mobilizing the community to understand the risk signs of veterans in crisis and how to get veterans the help they need. By increasing awareness of our program, particularly our Watch Stander program, THE PLAYERS and PGA TOUR will help us to drive increased numbers of Watch Standers, and therefore have more people around the community ready to be vigilant to the concerns of veterans.”
As part of its support of The Fire Watch, the tournament will use its platform to encourage community members to sign up and become Watch Standers.
In addition, the tournament will feature interviews with Fire Watch board members as well as Dan Bean, who was a watch stander before there was a program, and a veteran he has mentored. Also, to help increase awareness of the issue, the tournament will highlight the story of the daughter of a veteran who took his own life.
Howland said the interviews would probably be covered throughout the day on “PGA TOUR LIVE.”
Also, the PGA TOUR is working to become one of the inaugural businesses of another Fire Watch program: Veterans Safe Place.
That program was launched in February. Businesses, organizations, nonprofits and churches can be designated veteran safe places if 50 – or 50% if that’s smaller – of the employees become Watch Standers. They receive a window decal or an e-badge to put on their website.
“What that means is that there are employees in that facility that know how to identify a veteran that might be at risk and, if there’s a veteran in need, to get the veteran the help they need,” Howland said.
Becoming a Watch Stander is easy.
Just go to thefirewatch.org, click on Watch Standers and enroll. The process takes about 45 minutes, and those completing it will receive a wristband, car sticker and a wallet card that tells where to go for help.
To date, the program has about 450 enrollees. The goal is 10,000.
In this charitable effort, THE PLAYERS works closely with each of its Proud Partners (Grant Thornton, Optum and Morgan Stanley) who select a Charity of the Day.
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