The focus of the young organization was to deliver $3,000 of ‘emergency funds’ to families as quickly as possible following a line of duty death. In the early days, it struggled to do so. Since then, the support has grown and expanded in many ways:
- Immediate Financial Support – In June 2006, the organization extended its commitment of financial support to provide ongoing support in addition to the initial $3,000 ‘emergency funds’ to cover a family’s financial needs until state or federal benefits arrive. Each family’s need is determined on a case-by-case basis. The importance of this support cannot be overemphasized as public-safety families often experience financial stress even before tragedy strikes. Taking away the stress of house payments, buying groceries, continuing health insurance, or even purchasing new clothes for funerals can be a tremendous relief. The initial $3,000 ‘emergency funds’ payment constitutes a ‘down-payment on a promise’. It provides not only much-needed immediate financial support, but it substantiates the organization’s “We’ll Be There” promise. In March 2016, the organization strengthened that promise by raising the ‘emergency funds’ payment to $5,000.
- Funeral Planning – To help families and agencies render appropriate tributes to fallen heroes, Supporting Heroes personnel respond to all line of duty deaths to offer assistance with funeral planning. In addition, specially trained Memorial Teams have been developed in each state to assist on a larger scale as desired. (An FOP/COPS team handles law enforcement tributes in Indiana.)
- National Memorial Services – To help ensure that survivors are there when the nation honors their fallen hero, Supporting Heroes covers travel and lodging expenses for immediate survivors (parents, spouses, and children) to the respective (first year) national memorial service.
- Benefits & Appeals – Assistance is provided to families and agencies in filing for benefits as well as with appeals when necessary and appropriate.
- Trial Support – Protracted court proceedings often follow deaths of public safety heroes – particularly when the death occurred feloniously. When that is the case, families often face overwhelming financial burdens during the proceedings – loss of income; lodging and meal expenses; transportation; childcare; and more. SupportingHeroes provides financial and other support to help take those burdens away.
- Social Events & Peer Support – In an effort to bring survivors together to form lasting supportive relationships, Supporting Heroes hosts events to bring Police, Fire, and EMS survivors together.
Unfortunately, it is inevitable that more brave men and women will fall in the line of duty. When tragedy strikes, Supporting Heroes will ‘be there’ to take as much of the burden away from survivors as possible – freeing them to focus on the things that are truly important: their family and their grief.
On March 12th, 2016 in an effort to serve more families and in response to the requests of many, Supporting Heroes expanded coverage to the entire state of Missouri. Where support organizations already exist, Supporting Heroes will augment the services and support already provided.