We are an approved 501(c)(3) Not-For-Profit charity so your donations may be tax deductible.

A Buck a Badge

To All First Reponders

Twenty-four hours a day, everyday of the year, first responders like you are there for us no matter what.  I thank you for all that you do for the communities across this county.  Most people have no understanding of what you have seen, smelled, heard, touched, or even tasted in the line of duty, and they certainly have no idea how those experiences get tucked away in your memories, never to be forgotten.

I am the wife of a former first responder who, after 33 years of service, had to leave the job due to post-traumatic stress disorder.  P.T.S.D. is the body’s response to a traumatic or life-threatening event or an event your brain perceives as traumatic or threatening.  My husband lost part of himself. He lost his self-confidence and his pride in the job he loved so much.  His trust in the system was lost due to being threatened with loss of his job, ridiculed and made to feel weak and of little worth, and he was denied a promotion he had earned. I lost a piece of my husband to P.T.S.D.  While he struggled with the symptoms, our daughters and I struggled with what we could do to help him through his nightmares, his anger and mood swings, and his distancing himself from us.  I missed his laugh and his smile.  One thing about P.T.S.D. that you must understand is that it affects more than just the responder; it also affects family, friends, and co-workers.  Some of you may not have had “that call” or the trigger that brings back those images, but in your career, some of you will.   Through counseling and support, my husband regained some of himself.  A move to the serenity of the Northwoods of WI has added another layer of healing, which brings me to the point of this letter.

I am the founder of a nonprofit corporation called Responders Retreat.  Our board of directors receives no pay for our work. We want to offer first responders who are struggling with P.T.S.D. symptoms an opportunity to open a conversation about their struggles. The year-round retreat will offer a peaceful environment, free of judgment, where responders will be surrounded by mentors in their field and a counselor. 

One call can change a life in a second, and it takes one experience to trigger a struggle for which no one was prepared.  But it only takes one person to reach out, one person to stand up, or one person to speak up so that person who is struggling may know and understand that they are still valued, cared about, and supported.  A good friend told my husband, “We want you to know that we are all behind you…we know that we are only one call away from where you are.”   That meant more to my husband than his friend knows.

I need you to be that one person.  I am asking you for a donation of “A Buck ($1) a Badge.”  One dollar won’t buy a bottle of Coke, a gallon of gas, or a box of cereal, but your dollar will help so many first responders across this country experience hope and healing.  It will allow those experiencing P.T.S.D. to have a moment to just breathe, in an environment created specifically to provide respite for first responders from any emergency response agency across the country. 

To donate send cash or a check made out to Responders Retreat, Inc. and mail it to:

River Valley Bank

P.O.  Box 1135   

Minocqua, Wisconsin   54548   

To donate through PayPal visit our website at www.respondersretreat.org, or on facebook.com/respondersretreat.  If you have specific questions I can be reached at 630-281-0268.




Liz Bartholomew, Founder

Responders Retreat, Inc. EIN 82-1776106

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Our mission

Every minute of every day, across our country, firefighters, law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, and dispatchers respond to our cries for help. From the very young to the very old, dog bites, broken bones, fires, shootings, stabbings, explosions, accidents and more, at any time and in any weather, they are there doing their very best to assist us. While some calls are minor, some can be quite horrific, they see things most of us could never fathom. For many of us, just one of those calls would be more than enough for a lifetime, but imagine for a moment, multiple calls over years of service; the things they must have seen, heard, smelled, and tasted. Whether it was one call or multiple calls, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that these responders may develop post-traumatic stress disorder. At first, they may think that the call just frightened them and what they are experiencing will go away on its own. But as time goes by and the symptoms don’t go away or they escalate the responder begins to doubt themselves. Sadly, post-traumatic stress disorder is not always understood or accepted in the workplace, so many will not seek the help they need to get through this. They fear that they will be seen as weak, that they will lose their job or a promotion. Reactions from bosses, co-workers, and friends may be less than kind, so they start to doubt their self-worth and lose faith in themselves. Every bit of what they are going through can trickle down and affect their families, friends and co-workers. We need to do better for those who have already given so much for us by putting their lives on the line every day. Responders Retreat offers a peaceful, serene setting where responders can come together to clear their minds, relax, talk with counselors and mentors and start to make a plan to go forward and move toward a better quality of life.