Fundraiser to help heroes

The Saline Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By Elisha Morrison el­[email protected]­ton­courier.com

The first Heroes Be­hind the Line Bash will be from 6 to 10 p.m. Sept. 7 at the Ben­ton Event Cen­ter.

“This is our first ma­jor fundraiser,” said Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Travis Brown­ing.

He ex­plained Heroes Be­hind the Line is an or­ga­ni­za­tion to pro­vide PTSD and sui­cide pre­ven­tion along with stress de­brief­ing for first re­spon­ders and the mil­i­tary.

Brown­ing is a vet­eran, a sher­iff deputy, EMT and a fire­fighter. He started see­ing first re­spon­ders need help with PTSD and other is­sues but they didn’t have a good way to get the help they need.

“We want to be that re­source,” Brown­ing said.

He said that more first re­spon­ders have died by sui­cide in the last two years than in the line of duty.

Heroes Be­hind the Line wants to pro­vide pre­ven­tion train­ing to help first re­spon­ders iden­tify the signs of PTSD or risks of sui­cide and how to ap­proach a re­spon­der with con­cerns.

Brown­ing said for many re­spon­ders they have no prob­lem run­ning into a burn­ing build­ing but are ner­vous to ask fel­low re­spon­ders if they are okay. The group wants to help with that.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion is a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion. Brown­ing said all pro­ceeds from the bash will go to­ward its mis­sion for pro­gram­ming, sup­port and train­ing.

The meal for the bash will be catered by Chef Tony Gra­ham, the award win­ning owner of South­ern Gen­tle­man Cater­ing and a for­mer com­bat medic. Brown­ing said the meal will in­clude an ar­ray of wings and bar­be­cue.

The key­note speaker for the event will be Re­tired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Shilo Har­ris. He was hit by a 700-pound IED and lost three of the sol­diers he was with on Feb. 19, 2007 while pa­trolling in Iraq. He and his driver were both in­jured. Har­ris was put in a med­i­cally in­duced comma for 48 days. He lost his ears, the tip of his nose and fin­gers.

Brown­ing said when Har­ris got out of the hos­pi­tal he be­came an ad­vo­cate for PTSD aware­ness. He is the au­thor of “Steel Will” about his ex­pe­ri­ence.

“His in­spir­ing story will move you and mo­ti­vate you to live boldly in the face of fear and trust God to pull you through the tough­est of times–no mat­ter what,” the book de­scrip­tion reads.

Har­ris’ wife, Jaime, has been his care­taker.

While the event is to raise funds for an or­ga­ni­za­tion for first re­spon­ders and the mil­i­tary, Brown­ing said it is open to all sup­port­ers who want to at­tend.

“The more peo­ple the bet­ter,” he said, adding the event cen­ter holds a max­i­mum of 400 peo­ple.

DJ Kramer, of Hot 94.9, will play mu­sic. Af­ter the speaker, Brown­ing said at­ten­dees will be able to dance.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion will be giv­ing out door prizes, in­clud­ing a year’s sup­ply of bagels from Pan­era Bread, a box from Man Crates, tick­ets and gift cards.

There will also be a silent auc­tion in­clud­ing sports, me­mora­bilia, pa­tri­otic items, soldier items,

first re­spon­der me­mora­bilia and Ra­zor­back me­mora­bilia.

Brown­ing plans to have a drawing of tick­ets sold be­fore the event to win two tick­ets to Sil­ver Dol­lar City.

Spon­sor­ships are avail­able for the event. Brown­ing said any­one who wants to spon­sor can send a mes­sage through the Heroes Be­hind the Line Face­book or web­site. Many of the donors al­ready for the event wish to re­main anony­mous.

“We need to ad­vo­cate bet­ter for our first re­spon­ders,” Brown­ing said.

He feels to help those af­fected, the stigma about dis­cussing sui­cide and PTSD has to be bro­ken. First re­spon­ders need to be able to seek help with­out fear of los­ing their jobs.

Heroes Be­hind the Line is work­ing with leg­is­la­tors to help and make PTSD el­i­gi­ble for work­ers com­pen­sa­tion.

Tick­ets to the bash are $45 each and can be pur­chased through the link on the Face­book event, at Eventbrite, at www.heroes­be­hindthe­line.com or from any staff mem­bers. Tick­ets will not be sold at the door, though they will be avail­able un­til the event starts.

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