FUTURES RECOVERY HEALTHCARE IS COMMITTED TO OFFERING HIGH-QUALITY, EFFECTIVE, AND RELEVANT TREATMENT TO OUR NATION’S VETERANS AND FIRST RESPONDERS.
The Futures’ Hero’s Ascent track focuses on identifying and addressing mental health conditions such as underlying trauma, chronic pain, addiction, and other issues shared by first responders and veterans. The tracks’s coordinated and personalized care plans incorporate medical treatment, psychiatry, individual and group psychotherapy, physical therapy, wellness services, and neurostimulation. Family programming is an integral part of the Hero’s Ascent track. Therapy and education are provided to help family members address their mental health needs and learn to support their loved one’s recovery. Futures strives to help frontline workers find like-mindedness, camaraderie, and support by connecting with peers in recovery. Our thriving alumni community is a source of ongoing inspiration and connection.
PRESERVING LIFE IS THE GREATEST HONOR FIRST RESPONDERS AND MEMBERS OF THE MILITARY WORK RELENTLESSLY TO HELP OTHERS. HERE, WE HELP THEM DO THE HARDEST WORK OF ALL — TRANSFORMING THE ADVERSITY OF MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS INTO THE STRENGTH AND RESILIENCE WITH WHICH TO SAVE THEMSELVES, THEIR FAMILIES, PARTNERS, AND COMMUNITIES.
While substance use disorders, PTSD, and suicide are prevalent among these professionals, appropriate treatment is exceedingly rare and can be difficult to access. The Futures Recovery Healthcare Hero’s Ascent treatment track offers first responders and military personnel safe, relevant, and effective treatment in a comfortable and discreet setting.
DESIGNED TO HELP THE FRONT LINE FEEL AT EASE
First responders and veterans face unique barriers to seeking care. Many have trepidations related to mandatory reporting requirements and organizational ideology. Others worry about encountering people they know at local treatment providers. Futures offers partnership and safety to make treatment accessible, comfortable, and effective. Our experienced care team can help patients manage work-related issues and facilitate paperwork and communication with employers, insurers, and other agencies to help patients focus on treatment and make it easier to return to work. Located on a private, nine-acre gated campus in Tequesta, Florida, first responders and military personnel can expect discretion, and a safe space to relax, heal and work with experienced professionals. Our spacious environment and low patient-to-staff ratio provide ample privacy and allow the treatment team to individualize care. Comfortably appointed private bedrooms and bathrooms, nutritious chef-prepared meals, an on-campus swimming pool, a fitness center, tennis courts, and other amenities help patients feel at ease and at home.
HIGH-QUALITY HOLISTIC TREATMENT, FAMILY PROGRAMMING, AND PEER-SUPPORT
Futures Recovery Healthcare is accredited by The Joint Commission, employs experienced, licensed professionals, and uses evidence-based therapies. Our Hero’s Ascent track focuses on identifying and addressing underlying trauma, chronic pain, and other issues shared by first responders and military members. Coordinated and personalized care plans incorporate medical treatment, psychiatry, individual and group psychotherapy, physical therapy, wellness services, family programming, and neurostimulation. Therapy and education are provided to help family members address their mental health needs and learn to support their loved one’s recovery. Futures strives to help frontline workers find like-mindedness, camaraderie, and support by connecting with peers in recovery. Our thriving alumni community is a source of ongoing inspiration and connection.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING FOR POSITIVE CHANGE
Futures is working to increase the awareness and accessibility of treatment for military veterans and first responders. Our Hero’s Ascent Advisory Board is a panel of expert veterans, advocates, and researchers actively involved with our treatment track and offering mental healthcare and suicide-prevention training and education to first-responder and military organizations nationwide. Advisory board members also participate in “The Enemy Within”: International Symposium on Law Enforcement and First Responder Stress, PTSD, and Suicide, which focuses on individual, organizational, and policy solutions to the problems of trauma, addiction, and suicide.
The Futures Hero’s Ascent Advisory Board
The Futures Hero’s Ascent Veterans and First Responders track uses insights and ongoing guidance from some of the nation’s leading first-responder and military mental health advocates. These advisory board members are experienced thought leaders championing individual, organizational, and policy solutions to address first responder and military personnel trauma, addiction, and suicide. Members of the Futures Hero’s Ascent Advisory Board provide mental healthcare and suicide-prevention training and education to first-responder and military organizations and policymakers nationwide. They also participate in our annual “Enemy Within Symposium,” an educational event that attracts military and first responder leaders from around the country working to reduce stigma and increase access to care.
Ret. Lt. Col. Tanya Juarez, CEO at Howard Brain Sciences
I have always been passionate about helping people and focusing on all aspects of physical and mental health.
As a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, I have over 20 years of experience leading and managing various programs that focus on behavioral and mental health. Concurrently, I’ve pursued my education to obtain my Masters of Social Work, so that I could help Soldiers and Families proactively manage a variety of mental health issues including anxiety, depression, domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) I’m honored to have been consistently recognized by leadership and placed in various significant positions of responsibility.
In my current role as Chief Executive Officer for the Howard Brain Sciences Foundation, I’m responsible for overseeing all aspects of strategic development, funding, and program development so that we can help millions of people who currently suffer from incurable diseases and help to raise awareness about mental health.
I was driven to pursue a career in the mental health industry because I’m passionate about helping to make a difference. I have played a key role in the leadership and management of various programs including being hand-selected to serve in multiple leadership positions at the highest levels in the military medical community.
Along with the various decorations and awards I received throughout my career, I’m particularly humbled and honored to have been recognized with the Army Social Worker of the Year award (2018).
My colleagues and some of the Soldiers I’ve worked with have described me as “pragmatic, trustworthy, and motivational”. I’m driven to uphold the highest standards when it comes to my leadership, while also being approachable, accessible and motivational to everyone that I work with.
As a part of the Howard Brain Sciences Foundation, I’m excited to partner with neuroscientists, mathematicians, clinicians, computer and computational scientists to work on the advancement of technologies that will help to provide improved therapies and alternative treatments for mental health illnesses and neurodegenerative disease.
Dr. Roger Solomon
Roger Solomon, formerly police psychologist with the Colorado Springs Police Department and Washington State Patrol, currently is Clinical Director of the South Carolina PCIS and Police Psychologist with South Carolina Department of Public Safety. He is also a consultant with the trauma programs of the US Senate and NASA. Post Critical Incident Stress Seminar – PCIS is a three-day program which originated with the FBI in 1985. This multi-day program is for officers who have been involved in critical incidents. Quite often an officer is provided support in the initial days or weeks following a critical incident. However, in the weeks and months following the critical incident, an officer may still be experiencing the emotional impact of the incident. The street, the gun, and indeed one’s life may feel different. There has been a lack of follow-up programs for officers involved in critical incidents. This program meets that need, and provides a safe, confidential atmosphere where officers can talk with fellow officers who have “been there.” The first day, the program is introduced and an agreement is made that what is said in the seminar stays in the seminar. Most of the day is spent with participants explaining the incident(s) they were involved in. However, it is certainly okay if someone prefers to just listen and not talk. The second-day education on critical incident trauma is presented and participants break into smaller groups for further discussion. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a therapeutic method for resolving traumatic memories and reducing distressing images, is offered on a voluntary basis. The third day, education on coping is presented as well as further group discussions. A Family-oriented Program is also incorporated in this 3-day training to assist officer family members with education and coping strategies as well. Follow-up studies on this seminar have shown that it is very helpful in reducing traumatic reactions, and appreciated by officers. It is important to note that any officer who still has an active case regarding their incident, will be instructed not to disclose details regarding their case but can participate in the educational component of the program. Solomon is now providing PCIS for Military Personnel returning from deployment for both officer and civilians alike.
Janice McCarthy’s husband, Paul, died from suicide in July of 2006. Paul had been a well-respected Massachusetts State Police Captain. During his 21 year career, he suffered three serious line of duty accidents, which proved to be the etiology of his PTSD.
Paul’s death spurred Janice to commit herself to the cause of PTSD recognition and suicide prevention in law enforcement. Her passion is rooted in helping surviving families find the strength to reconcile the guilt so many suicide survivors experience. She draws upon her personal experience as a cop’s wife and now as a cop’s widow to connect with officers. She knows the law enforcement life and has been openly accepted by those to whom she has spoken.
In her training of officers, Janice uses Paul’s story to illustrate the need for all officers to reach out for mental health assistance without fear of repercussion. She calls for an end to the age-old stigma of asking for help. She clearly articulates how the “good old boy – suck it up” mentality was instrumental in fueling her husbands’ deterioration.
She has spoken nationally before thousands, telling her family’s personal story in an attempt to reach officers on an emotional level. She appeals to officers as a cops’ wife now widow, hoping that they might understand and appreciate their spouses’ sacrifices. She speaks candidly and emotionally of her children’s pain, hoping the officers might see their own kids in the images of Paul, Shannon, and Christopher McCarthy. And she recounts witnessing firsthand her husband’s struggles, hoping the officers might associate themselves with Paul and realize the consequences of not reaching out for help when they need it.
Her experience as a lecturer has included weekly recruit and officer in-service trainings, Employee Assistance Conferences, Peer Support Conferences, Internal Affairs Investigators, FBI Agents, University Police Chiefs and Correctional Officers. She has also been a guest speaker at the In Harm’s Way and American Association of Suicidology Conferences. Most recently she has worked with the Samaritans of Merrimack Valley constructing and facilitating suicide prevention training for Middle Age Men.
Janice is a board member of Badge of Life, a nonprofit organization which promotes psychological survival for first responders. She is a recipient of The Commendable Service Award from the City of New Haven Connecticut and the Departmental Award of Education from the New Haven Connecticut Police Department for her devotion to the cause of suicide prevention and PTSD awareness in law enforcement.
She is the founder of C.O.P.S.S. (Care Of Police Suicide Survivors), which is a nonprofit foundation formed in her husband’s memory and dedicated to their children Christopher, Paul and Shannon. The foundation provides Care and Support for law enforcement suicide survivors and suicide prevention training for law enforcement.
In addition to her training and nonprofit work, she has authored several short papers on “Policework, PTSD and its Aftermath”. She is currently working with legislators in Massachusetts to mandate Suicide Prevention Training for First Responders in the state. She considers her greatest achievement to be her three children whose strength and love fuel her.
Futures’ Hero’s Ascent Track Overview & Interview with Janice McCarthy:
Chris Prochut (pro-hut) is a mental health awareness advocate and law enforcement suicide prevention trainer. Over the past six years, Chris has had the pleasure to present to over 6,000 law enforcement officers across the United States and Canada on the topics of suicide and depression warning signs, medication myths, department policy revision, and told of his personal experience with the stigma of mental health issues. In addition to training with the LEDR Team, Chris has also presented at numerous Crisis Intervention Team Trainings (CIT) where he addresses the subject of “Taking care of our own” and has been featured at various specialized law enforcement conferences advising departments on program development to assist officers at risk for suicide. Feedback from these trainings shows just how well received Chris’s message is, how the topics of suicide and mental illness are rarely discussed within law enforcement, and how education and training are causing a paradigm shift within police departments. Chris is a member of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Death Response (LEDR) Team, a former trainer in QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) suicide prevention program, an FBI National Academy (FBINA) Enrichment Speaker, an FBI National Academy Associates (FBINAA) Officer Safety and Wellness Committee Member, and an active volunteer with BringChange2Mind.
Chris resides in Hartford, Wisconsin with his wife Jennifer, and their children Chase (13) and Ashlyn (9).
Futures’ Hero’s Ascent Track Overview & Interview with Chris Prochut:
Jeannie Kelly ~ NYPD Retired
Jeannie Kelly retired from the New York City Police Department in February 2005 after 24 -years of service. She currently works as the Director of 9/11 Outreach and Education assisting 9/11 first responders and their families. She formerly worked as an Outreach and Education Coordinator for the World Trade Center at the Mount Sinai Selikoff Centers for
Occupational Health in New York City for ten years. She conducts presentations, coordinates World Trade Center Health Program enrollment assistance, provides benefit eligibility information and counseling, and educates all 9/11 responders from Federal, State, and local first responder agencies, including the NYPD, FBI, US Marshals, NYS Police, Task Force Urban Search and Rescue Teams, Fire Departments, and volunteer organizations with enrolling in the federally funded program. She attends meetings with World Trade Center Clinical Care Centers, Stakeholders, and labor unions, in regards to the implementation of criteria for eligible enrollees. She also plans and schedules events, assists in developing new concepts for outreach, and facilitates support for 9/11responders with all aspects of the World Trade Center Health Program. As a police officer with the New York City Police Department, she was a first responder on September 11, 2001 and continued to work at Ground Zero until March 2002. During her career as a law enforcement officer with the NYPD she worked in various assignments including Auto Crime, Vice, Anti-Crime, and Dignitary Protection. She was also a Tactics Instructor with INTAC Specialized Training Unit and conducted training at various locations throughout New York City. In March 2002, she then became instrumental in developing, instructing, and mentoring the Chemical, Biological, Radiological Awareness(COBRA) training, the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment, and Counterterrorism training to over 25,000 NYPD officers, Federal and State agencies, and the private sector. In addition to training, she has participated in the planning, mitigating, and coordinated response of major national and international events including the United States General Assembly, Papal visits, the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, the Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C., the World Series, and the U.S. Tennis Open. She retired after twenty-four years of service from the NYPD in 2005 and immediately signed on as a sub-contractor/instructor with FEMA/DHS at the Center of Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama and was assigned to the Mobile Training Team in the
central and eastern regions of the United States. Her primary responsibility as an instructor was developing and implementing diversified training for such subject matter as Weapons of Mass Destruction, Improvised Explosive Device Detection, Counterterrorism for Law Enforcement, Hazmat Technician, Respiratory Protection, and all aspects of the
Incident Command System. She delivered Mobile Team Training to our nation’s first responders, the United States military, federal and state agencies as well as the private sector and volunteer organizations.
Undersheriff John Greenan, Erie County Sheriff’s Office New York
Undersheriff John W. Greenan has spent the last several years overseeing the Erie County Sheriff’s Department and its Administrative Services Division. Erie County is one of New York State’s largest Sheriff’s Offices. In his nearly 30 year career in Erie County public service John has been dedicated to serving the community and most recently his tenure as Chief of Administration and Undersheriff has given him the opportunity to be intimately involved in creating an assistance program for first responders dealing with the impacts of addiction and mental health issues, which has been a long time passion of his. John began his career as Erie County’s youngest elected official in the Erie County Legislature, followed by two consecutive appointments as Commissioner of Erie County’s Personnel Department serving over 5,000 employees. In 2003 John founded and currently Chairs the not-for-profit Labor Management Health Care Fund. This fund manages the insurance, health, and mental health care needs of nearly 35,000 participants in the Buffalo metro area. John has also served as Chairman of the Board for both the Southdown’s YMCA and the Service Collaborative of WNY for 16 plus years focusing on four very straight-forward areas that make an impact every day: Education, Economic Opportunity, Youth Development, and Volunteering.
In 2017, after overcoming his own issues with alcohol addiction, Undersheriff Greenan joined forces with local health insurers to create the not-for-profit group Strive to Thrive. John currently serves as its Chairman. Strive to Thrive provides programming and training focused on the mental, emotional, and physical health and wellness for first responders. To date, the program has provided 900 first responders in the region with a 3-day retreat focused on mental and emotional health as well as dealing with job-related PTSD. As a result of this new programming, Western New York has begun to move away from a discipline model for dealing with employee behavioral issues to a restorative model where employees are given the tools necessary to manage negative behavior and break the cycle of addiction. As a result of the partnership with local insurers, substantial changes have been made in how those companies will fund previously denied claims for addiction services. Strive to Thrive also acts as an important funding source for first responders needing financial assistance to get the mental health and addiction services they need. At Strive to Thrive we believe that no man or woman wearing the uniform should be left behind simply because they can’t afford the help they need.
Ret. Captain Carolyn Lewis; New York City Dept. of Corrections
Carolyn Lewis joined the NYC Department of Corrections (Riker’s Island) in 1991. As an officer she was assigned to various commands and units working directly for the Chief of Security, Director of Ministerial Services, Investigations Division, Gang Intelligence Unit, Special Operations Division, and the Emergency Services Unit, Support Team.
In 2001, she was promoted to the rank of Captain being assigned to the women’s facility. One year later, the Warden asked Capt. Lewis to take over the position of Security Captain, a position that put her 4th in line of running the 1,000+ bed facility.
Capt. Lewis chose to expand her experience by transferring to the Custody Mgmt./New Admission Monitoring and Control Unit from 2003 to 2016 which afforded her the ability to work on the level of Tour Commander. There she worked under the direct supervision of the Deputy Commissioner and Bureau Chief of the unit dealing with both uniformed and civilian managers/administrators to ensure inmates were classified, housed properly, and extradited to outside agencies.
In 2016, Capt. Lewis transferred to the department’s Health Management Division. Under the umbrella of this unit, she was the Tour Commander for the Absence Control Unit/Sick Desk and worked with the Intel Unit/Home Visitation Group. This was the ideal position as Carolyn is a compassionate person. It allowed her to assist her fellow uniformed staff members. As the Absence Control Unit Supervisor working directly with departmental medical doctors and psychologists, she provided support and guidance to any staff member in need of assistance for everything from referrals to rehabilitation facilities to ensuring staff were receiving the proper care and support. It was also her responsibility to ensure all members of service on sick leave complied with departmental rules and regulations, generate disciplinary sanctions, and train newly assigned staff to the unit.
Carolyn is also an extremely active member of NOBLE, Nat’l Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. In 2018, for the first time in the history of NOBLE (then 42 yrs.), she submitted 2 workshops addressing Correction initiatives/issues specifically on Mental Health concerns for inmates and staff members. She also is a strong advocate for networking to find programs that cater to providing rehabilitative services to First Responders, facilities like Futures Recovery Healthcare.
After 29 years, Carolyn retired and is now focused on community activism and advocating for First Responder rehabilitation services.
Buffalo, New York Ret. Officer Thomas Cino
Hello. My name is Tommy Cino. I was born in Buffalo, New York on September 27th, 1966. I was raised in a predominantly Italian-American neighborhood although I was adopted at 3 days old and was actually German and Polish. I lost my father to a heart attack in 1980. It was a very tough time for me at that young age of 13. My drinking and drugging began there but was never out of hand. I had a very blessed life and a Mom who was my rock through it all. I went to McKinley Vocational High School and took up Plumbing. Graduated in 1984 and took a few years off before college. I attended Erie Community College and graduated with my Criminal Justice Degree somewhere in the late 80’s. I worked various jobs between then and 1991. That is the year I was sworn in to the Buffalo, New York Police Department. One of the happiest days of my life! Always wanted to be a “Cop” from the time I was 5 years old. In 1992 I was married and in 1995 my twin girls were born. An amazing blessing! In 1996, I was involved in an “on duty” incident that began my downward spiral. My drinking began to pick up and I waited almost a year to find mental health help for myself for I thought I was going crazy. Well, I wasn’t crazy! I was diagnosed with PTSD. I shortly began to take medication and it “Saved My Life”! In 2001, September 11th We were attacked. I like many millions watched in horror as the second plane hit the second tower. Five days later, I was there on Ground Zero with 8 other officers. It was surreal! In 2004, I was very ill and went to the hospital. I was diagnosed with the flesh-eating bacteria(Necrotizing Fasciitis). I was wheeled into the surgery room being septic, organs shutting down, and almost no blood pressure. My right inner thigh had to be debrided twice and I have a cute 14 by 7-inch concave scar. I was in ICU for two weeks fighting for my life. By the Grace of God, I was saved. I spent a month in the hospital and made it home a frail man. My recovery physically lasted 4 months. I went back to work that fall. My drinking picked up at a faster pace with new pain pills as an addition. In 2011, I left my wife and children because the marriage had been suffering for quite a while. Now I was alone by myself and my addiction became worse. I went to work and did my job, coming home to a bottle and hurting every day. Both mentally, emotionally, and physically. My life had spiraled out of control!! I lost friends, family, and burned many bridges down. I lost my twin girls’ respect which hurt me the worst. Being told by your daughter that you’re not her hero anymore was a knife through my soul. But, I continued to drink and drug. My life was unmanageable!!!!! I met my current wife in 2012 and We were married in 2017. I retired from patrol in December 2018 after 27 years. She is currently in law enforcement as an NYS Parole Officer. Our marriage started out great but shortly thereafter, it began to suffer. I did quit my pain pill addiction that year by myself but drinking never stopped. Her drinking also increased with the stressors. In 2019, We both hit Our rock bottoms. We had an argument and she left with her mother. Two days later she called me and told me she was on her way to Rehab at Futures In West Palm, Florida. My drinking continued!! Three weeks later she called me with her counselor and basically said the marriage was over if I did not choose to go to rehab. I was not willing to give up my wife for a bottle. I was on a plane to Futures shortly thereafter. Futures saved Our lives! We have been sober, joyous, and free ever since. I have a wonderful relationship with My God. I regularly attend AA meetings and do service work for others often. My life changed like a coin flipped. It is a miracle to be here and living a life without the obsession for any substance is just pure freedom. I thank my God, Cindy Goss(a longtime friend), and Futures for saving Our lives. Have a happy and blessed day!
Rick Mathews, MS
Rick C. Mathews founded the Mathews Group, LLC, in October 2017. The Mathews Group provides consulting, training, education, and a host of other services – most to agencies, companies, and others within the broad homeland security enterprise. The founding occurred as he transitioned from over forty years of full-time employment within public service. His
career included 30 years as an EMT and Paramedic. He served as the director of EMS for many of those in both large community and small rural services. He has delivered training and education to EMS, fire service, law enforcement personnel, and others for over 45 years, and he continues in this effort today.
During his career, he has been called upon to lead the development of training and education for the emergency responder, public safety, counter-terrorism, and homeland security communities at local, state, and federal levels. During the early years of his career, he developed and delivered local and state-level training and education programs in Indiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. Immediately after the 9-11 attacks, he was invited to LSU to manage the development and delivery of bioterrorism training on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice and later, the Department of Homeland Security. Concurrently, his portfolio also included a similar role in support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concerning hospital and medical community response to weapons of mass destruction. That program also transitioned to DHS as that agency began in 2002-2003. In 2004-05 the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training evolved its organizational structure, which resulted in Mathews becoming its Assistant Director for Research and Development. By 2007, his division was responsible for developing over 24 national-level courses in the areas of bioterrorism, agroterrorism, advanced tactical operations (LE), WMD Sampling (fire service and hazmat), and a host of other courses focusing on the needs of emergency responders, first receivers, public health, those responsible for counter-terrorism efforts, and many others.
In 2007, Rick was recruited by the State University of New York to establish a national level training center to support the needs of New York as well as the needs of international, federal, local, and private sector agencies focusing on homeland security and counter-terrorism. As mentioned, in the beginning, he ended his public service career in late 2017 and began his current activities through the establishment of the Mathews Group. LLC.
Although he will tell you that he is more akin to being a ‘southerner,” he has made upstate New York his home since 2007.
Matt’s practice is focused upon the representation of September 11th first responders who were injured or have developed illnesses due to their invaluable service at Ground Zero, Fresh Kills and other disaster sites during the rescue and recovery operations following the 9/11 attack, and civilian survivors who lived or worked in lower Manhattan and are now afflicted with some of the same post-attack diseases. Matt, a former NYPD police officer and still-licensed paramedic, was a 9/11 first responder, and has now been advocating on behalf of first responders and survivors for over 12 years. As many (but not all) Americans are aware, September 11th first responders and civilian survivors have been developing sometimes-fatal cancers, lung ailments, and other diseases at alarmingly high rates, often tragically leaving them and their families with impaired earning ability and outsize medical costs. The first responders were not only firefighters and police officers, but also paramedics and EMTs, nurses, construction and iron workers, sanitation workers, civilian volunteers and others.
Together with some of the country’s best advocates, Matt lobbied feverishly for the passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, affording benefits and compensation to ill and injured first responders and civilian survivors through the creation of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, administered by the U.S. Department of Justice. Matt and other dedicated advocates of the crucial legislation successfully redoubled their efforts and got Congress to reauthorize the “Zadroga Act” in 2015, and will fight for the cause of the September 11th first responders and civilian survivors for as long as the need exists.
In addition to Matt’s work with the New York Delegation (U.S. House and Senate members, local politicians, and other supporters of the Zadroga Act) and 9/11 HealthWatch (a not-for-profit advocacy organization which monitors the federal government’s 9/11-related programs to ensure that first responders and civilian survivors receive the quality health care and other services they deserve), Matt has been recognized for his steadfast advocacy for the 9/11 community by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. He was named Advocate of the Year by John Feal of the FealGood Foundation (a not-for-profit organization that assists and advocates for first responders in the context of 9/11-related illnesses and issues, and other special challenges faced by the first-responder community on a daily basis). Matt has participated as a guest lecturer at the annual Remembrance Forum hosted by VOICES of September 11th (a not-for-profit organization dedicated to addressing the long-term needs of those impacted by the 9/11 attack and its fallout, commemorating the lives lost, and promoting national preparedness). Matt has also been recognized by the New York State Police for his work on behalf of its members.
Matt knows he is one of the lucky ones, and considers it a privilege to work on behalf of the first responders, survivors, and loving family members who gave so much and now need a modest degree of help. As a former New York City police officer and paramedic, he has a unique understanding of the 9/11 community and its particular needs. This background and a gnawing sense of survivor’s guilt fuel his passion for preparing these just claims on behalf of the heroes and survivors who are mostly unknown by the general public. It has also led him to a position of great mutual respect with the attorneys and staff at the USDOJ’s September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, with whom he interacts constructively and successfully on a near-daily basis.
Matt spends considerable time and effort (on a pro bono basis) informing first responders and qualifying civilians about the World Trade Center Health Program (administered by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and getting them enrolled as participants. This enables their health to be monitored regularly, at no cost to them, by doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals specializing in occupational and environmental illnesses, even before any signs or symptoms have arisen, providing for the earliest possible medical intervention in the event that they do develop any disease.
Lieutenant Colonel Eduardo A. Suarez
Lieutenant Colonel Eduardo A. Suarez was born and raised San Jose, California. As former Olympian (alternate 1988) he was recruited and entered the active duty Army in January 1989 where he completed basic training and Infantry Advanced Individual Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. In April 1989, he was assigned to the United States Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning as a member of the International Pistol Team. During his assignment he distinguished himself earning medals in national and international competition. In September 1993 LTC Suarez moved to Minnesota and enlisted in the Minnesota Army National Guard.
Since commissioning in 1996 LTC Suarez has served at the company, battalion and brigade levels. He has deployed three times. Once in support of Stabilization Force 14 in Bosnia Herzegovina, where he served nine months as the Administration Officer. Second, while serving as commander of C Company, 2-136th Infantry where he served 22 months in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2005 to 2007. Lastly, in 2011 he served 12 months as the Operations Officer for 1st Battalion, 194th Armor Regiment in support of Operation New Dawn in Kuwait and Iraq. In 2008 LTC Suarez entered the Active Guard Reserve program where he has severed in numerous full time positions. In 2008, while assigned to the Deployment Cycle Support (DCS) Division he coordinated training and assistance for thousands of deploying and redeploying service members and their families. From 2010 to 2017 he completed numerous assignments at the battalion, brigade and state headquarters levels. Most recently he completed command of the Recruiting and Retention Battalion where he was responsible for the recruitment of over 4,500 Soldiers. Since June 2020, LTC Suarez serves as the Director of Diversity & Inclusion for the Minnesota National Guard where he is responsible for shaping a diverse and inclusive culture for 13,000 Soldiers and Airmen.
Over the course of his career and through his diverse experiences and personal hardships, LTC Suarez has been an outspoken supporter and advocate for the overall wellness of service members and their families. LTC Suarez has been invited to speak on numerous occasions in Florida and New York. He has shared his personal perspective on the programs, services and support networks available in Minnesota and the role that servant leadership plays in ensuring our service members come all the way home.
LTC Suarez is currently enrolled in the U.S. Army War College and holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Architecture from the University of Minnesota and Masters of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University.
LTC Suarez’s military awards and decorations among others include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal. He was awarded International Distinguished Shooters Badge in 1985 and admitted to the US Army Marksmanship Unit’s Hall of Fame in 2008.
LTC Suarez is married to the former Jennifer Mary Thier, of Dyersville, Iowa since 1989. The Suarez’s have two children: Antonio Louis (21) and currently serving in the MN Army National Guard, and Maria Beatrice (18) who is senior at Hopkins High School.