National VFR Day Date in the current year: August 3, 2024

National VFR Day National Veterans and First Responders Day, commonly referred to as simply National VFR Day, is observed annually on the first Saturday of August. It was created to address the most common mental health issues faced by first responders and veterans.

Serving in the military or working as a first responder (police officer, EMT or paramedic, firefighter) takes a toll on one’s mental health. Service members and first responders work in extremely stressful environments and frequently witness injuries and deaths, which can be traumatic even for seasoned professionals and lead to depression, PTSD, and other mental health issues.

Sadly, many first responders and service members internalize their traumatic experiences instead of reaching out for help, which can lead to more serious problems later in life. Besides, untreated mental health problems can prevent them from doing their job properly, putting a lot of people at risk. This is why it is so important to destigmatize mental health issues and provide support to service members, veterans, and first responders who need it.

Mental health issues in first responders are often preventable through coping strategies, such as limiting working hours to no longer than 12-hour shifts, establishing boundaries and being able to say “no” or “not right now”, getting enough sleep, exercising, maintaining a healthy diet, limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, and talking to one’s teammates, supervisors, family, and friends about one’s experiences and feelings instead of bottling them up.

The families and friends of first responders, service members and veterans are an important part of their support system. On the other hand, family members of first responders may begin to develop vicarious trauma (secondary traumatic stress), but they often deprioritize their own needs and do nothing about it, leading to feelings of isolation and resentment.

This is why conversations about the mental health of veterans and first responders should include the mental health of their loved ones; everyone deserves help and no one should suffer in silence. National Veterans and First Responders Day was created to do just that: raise awareness of the mental health issues faced by first responders, veterans, and their families.

National VFR Day was launched in 2023 by David Knott, the fonder and chairman of the Veterans & First Responsders Foundation (VFR), a registered charity that provides mental health and wellness support to first responders, veterans, military, K-9s, and their families. Its main focus includes wellness evaluations, counseling to address anxiety and depression, therapy sessions, and other mental health services.

There are many ways to get involved with National VFR Day. You can thank the veterans and first responders in your life for their hard work and dedication and let them know you’ll be there for them if they need you, donate to or volunteer for an organization that helps veterans and first responders, host a fundraiser for veterans and first responders in your community, and share mental health and wellness resources for first responders and veterans on social media with the hashtag #NationalVFRDay.

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