To provide support, education, and resources for NJ First Responders and their families struggling with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Vicarious Trauma, Depression, Anxiety and other related issues.
Eric and Victoria Hicken have personally worked with the stress and unique pressures of a life that revolved around their careers in Emergency Services and Nursing. Eric has prior military service in the US Army / Air Force, and has been involved in EMS for over 30 years. They would often discuss the lack of ongoing resources for First Responders dealing with work related stress and trauma. Victoria's father was a two tour Vietnam Veteran with PTSD, and she felt strongly that First Responders should be provided similar resources and treatment also. "Trauma is trauma, and our First Responders are spending a lifetime in traumatic and life threatening environments". Yet, there was nothing for them. Acutely aware of the risk for suicide in the Veteran population 2nd to PTSD, they sought data on that for First Responders with no success. In 2012 First Responder suicide hit very close to their hearts and they became convinced something must be done. In 2014 they joined in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Overnight Walk in Philadelphia; raised over $2000.00 for suicide prevention & awareness, and met many people who lost First Responder loved ones to suicide. Upon sharing ideas and stories with those affected by suicide it became painfully clear that services were needed at the grassroots level and Mission Hope NJ was born. "We needed to bring resources, education, and support directly to the First Responder Community". In 2016 Mission Hope NJ officially became a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, and outreach became our first priority.
A career in Emergency Services is filled with intense stress, daily exposure to life's emotionally toxic events, critical incidents, and threats to one's personal safety. This unique combination of stressors can lead to difficulties with home life, interpersonal conflicts, and increases a First Responder's risk for mental illnesses such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and suicide.
Mission Hope NJ believes that knowledge is power, and First Responders who are provided the resources, education and support they deserve, can fight back against the pressures of work induced stress, the increased risk for mental illness, and suicide. Prevention is key, education is essential, and peer/family support is a lifeline to wellness and a successful life in the career they love.