There are numerous men and women to whom we look to “stand in the gap” for us.

There are members of the U.S. military branches, who we expect to protect us and to be willing to lay down their lives to do so. There are police and other personnel who we expect to stand between us and crime.

And there are those who work in fire, search and rescue and emergency medical fields.

All of these positions involve risk. All of these positions involve people being willing to face the most frightening and the most horrific circumstances possible. Very often, especially in this area, those roles are filled by volunteers, people who simply care about their community.

Whatever their position, whatever their role, we expect them to be there. And, time and time again, they step up. They are there.

They see some of the best things, but also some of the worst and they impact they feel in their lives is real.

Recently, two first responders from Mingo County, West Virginia, took the job’s impacts into their own hands and started a support group for first responders to support each other and help each other to cope with some of the worst impacts of the “job.”

Matt Workman and Chip Ball recently started the group, which began as a Facebook group, but has grown into face-to-face meetings. In one aspect which could helpe Ball said a total of 60 people are members of the group.

Ball described the group as a “family” where members can come for solace, understanding and, ideally, some semblance of healing.

“We are a family and that’s the way we want everyone to feel about it. We are not a therapy group; none of us are qualified for that,” he said. “What we are is a group of first responders that loves, understands, supports, and accepts other first responders.”

Ball and Workman are inviting first responders from the area to join up with them and share in the support and healing. The group currently meets every other Friday at the Williamson, West Virginia, Fire Department. And we’d love to see people attend.

What we’d also like to see is for the concept to expand, with more groups starting up throughout the area, networking first responders throughout the region. We would also encourage “civilians” to spread the word on these types of services and to support these kinds of groups, even if doing so means financially.

Both Ball and Workman said should any fellow first responder want further information on the group and its meeting time and places, or simply feel the need to talk, he or she can call them any time of the day or night at, (304) 784-0621, and, (304) 601-5695, respectively.

We ask that you get involved. If you’re a first-responder or former first responder, join up in this or a similar group to both give and receive help and healing. If you’re not a first responder, let them know this is available and find ways to support this and similar organizations’ efforts. It’s the least we can do.

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