About Blue H.E.L.P.

It is the mission of Blue H.E.L.P. to reduce mental health stigma through education, advocate for benefits for those suffering from post-traumatic stress, acknowledge the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers we lost to suicide, assist officers in their search for healing, and to bring awareness to suicide and mental health issues.

 

Our History

Blue H.E.L.P. began in 2015 after The Price They Pay was written by two of it’s founders; Karen Solomon and Jeffrey McGill. It became clear to Karen, Jeff and Steve Hough that suicide prevention and care for the families afterward was not offered in law enforcement; compassion and understanding took a backseat to stigma and shame. In 2017, they incorporated and received their 501(c)3 designation and are now the only organization in the country that collects law enforcement suicide data and regularly supports families in the aftermath.

Meet the Blue H.E.L.P. Team

Karen Solomon

Karen Solomon

PRESIDENT AND CO-FOUNDER

Karen is the creator of www.1sthelp.net and the author of Hearts Beneath the Badge and The Price They Pay as well as many articles about law enforcement suicid. Her focus is the stories of the families who have lost an officer to suicide and the officers who suffer with the feeling that they have nowhere to turn. Karen was a member of the 2018 Officer Safety and Wellness Group Meeting and is currently the co-Chair of the Data and Research Committee of the National Consortium on Law Enforcement Suicide Prevention. Karen is also the wife of a police officer,

 

Jeffrey McGill

Jeffrey McGill

VICE PRESIDENT AND CO-FOUNDER

Jeff began his law enforcement career with four years of military service. He then entered the civilian law enforcement profession at the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office where he stayed full-time for 15 years. Jeff had numerous assignments including patrol, street crimes, beach/marine unit, investigations, sex offender unit, and gang intelligence. Hi is the co-author of The Price They Pay Jeff is now the Academy Director at Northwest Florida State College overseeing training for basic recruits as well as advanced courses for certified officers.

Steve Hough

Steve Hough

SECRETARY AND CO-FOUNDER

Steven is a 20-year veteran of Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. During his time with the Sheriff’s Office Steven also spent seven years assigned as a Task Force Officer for the US Marshals Violent Fugitive Task Force based in Pensacola, FL. While serving a warrant with the task force Steven was shot numerous times, including once in the face. As a result of his actions, Steven was awarded the Congressional Badge of Bravery, United States Marshal’s Purple Heart, and the Medal of Valor from Santa Rosa County. Steven has since retired from the sheriff’s office an inspector with the Walton County Sheriff’s Office.
Mark DiBona

Mark DiBona

BOARD MEMBER

In 1985, Mark began his Law Enforcement career with the Braintree Police Department and later transferred to the Amtrak Police Department. In 1993, Mark moved to Florida and continued his career with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, where he retired as a Patrol Sergeant in March of 2019. During his career, Mark held several positions and assignments to include Peer Support Team and Critical Incident Stress Management Team. Mark is a Police Academy Instructor at the Seminole State College Police Academy.

Mark is dedicated to advocating for the elimination of the stigma concerning mental health issues of Law Enforcement Officers and prevention of Law Enforcement Officer suicides. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) and Bravo748 Speakers Bureau.

 Nick Greco

Nick Greco

BOARD MEMBER

Nicholas Greco IV, M.S., B.C.E.T.S., C.A.T.S.M., F.A.A.E.T.S., is President and Founder of C3 Education and Research, Inc., a training and consulting firm. Nick has held multiple positions over a 20-year career in clinical operations, project management, multidisciplinary training for civilians and law enforcement, as well as diagnostics and assessment. He has directed, managed, and presented training programs globally across various topics. He is an author on over 300 book reviews, has presented globally on nearly 200 professional presentations, and has authored or co-authored over 35 articles in psychiatry and psychology.

 Melissa Swailes

Melissa Swailes

BOARD MEMBER

Melissa Swailes is the widow of David Swailes, LAPD officer who died by suicide on Feb. 26, 2016. Since his death she has worked tirelessly to overcome her own fight with PTSD as well as advocate for comprehensive officer wellness programs. She works closely with the Los Angeles Police Department Behavioral Science Services as well as the Family Support Group to promote suicide awareness initiatives and helps organize support for surviving families of fallen officers.
Joe Willis

Joe Willis

Board Member

Joe is the Director of Business Development for Team One Network – an international training company based out of Fredericksburg, VA. He retired from the United States Army as a Military Police First Sergeant in the summer of 2016 after more than 20-years of service. His last few military assignments include; Operations Sergeant Major for a Combined Arms Training Brigade, Senior Enlisted Advisor and Tactics Instructor for the Department of Military Science at West Point, Equal Opportunity Program Manager for the United States Military Academy, and First Sergeant for a Military Police Initial Entry Training Company.  Learn more about Joe and the VennLeader Model at www.VennLeader.com.

Bryanna Mellen

Bryanna Mellen

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT

Bryanna’s father was a Corrections Officer for 22 years, retiring as a Captain for the state of Massachusetts. After about 18 months of retirement, he died by suicide following a long battle with depression and PTSD. As a result, Bryanna and a friend started the On Guard Initiative where she organized multiple 5k’s and conferences, spoke nationally, assisted officers & families in crisis, and helped influence a mental health reform bill for Correction Officers in Massachusetts. Bryanna is extremely passionate about suicide prevention and participated in the first study of its kind at Northeastern University about Correction Officer mental health and suicide.

Bryanna has a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Rhode Island, where she studied Public Health with a focus on behavioral health and health promotion.

 Steve Casstevens

Steve Casstevens

ADVISER

Steven Casstevens is the Chief of Police with the Buffalo Grove, IL Police Department. He retired in 2011 as an Assistant Chief with the Hoffman Estates, IL Police Department, where he served for nearly 30 years. Steve is a Past President of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police (ILACP). He is also President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and will serve as the Association’s President in 2019. He serves on the Executive Committee of “Fight Crime-Invest in Kids” as well as their National Leadership Council. He also serves on the Advisory Board for the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility.

Ron Clark

Ron Clark

ADVISER

Ron Clark, RN, MS, APSO is a military veteran and a retired sergeant from the Connecticut State Police (CSP) with 23 years of law en- forcement service. He was the first certified CSP Peer Support Officer and Instructor, Commanding Officer of the EAP/Medical unit and was a member of the tactical team as an Advanced Life Support Medic. He helped establish the first Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team in Connecticut and served as its President. Ron holds a Master of Science degree in Counseling/Education and is a retired therapist, also he has been a licensed Registered Nurse since 1969. He served 12 years as the Chairperson of the Middlebury Police Commission. Ron is former Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Badge of Life, a national organization that deals with Law Enforcement suicides and officers mental health and emotional wellness.
 Brian Hill

Brian Hill

ADVISER

Brian is a Marine Corps Veteran and has been in law enforcement for nearly 20 years.  He currently works for an agency in the Denver, CO metro area.   Brian is also the owner of Mental Ammo, a law enforcement training provider.  He serves as the Vice Chair for Colorado P.O.S.T.  Arrest Control SME Committee.  Brian is a charter member of International Law Enforcement Educators & Trainers Association (ILEETA) where he also serves as an editor to the Officer Safety and Use of Force section of the ILEETA Journal.

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

ADVISER

Doug Wyllie is Web Editor for POLICE Magazine, providing police training content on a wide range of topics and trends affecting the law enforcement community. Doug is the 2014 Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column, and has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips. Doug also hosts the PoliceOne Podcast, Policing Matters, and is the host for PoliceOne Video interviews. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).
 Michael McSellers

Michael McSellers

ADVISER

Michael J. McSellers has served our country as a United States Marine Corps veteran and has served the Commonwealth of Virginia as a law enforcement officer for over fourteen years and is currently serving in the Northern Virginia area. Michael has served for over 13 years as a Field Training Officer and a member of the Honor Guard. He has also served over 3 years as a Chaplain, and has been a coordinator for the annual Rise Christian Police Conference and speaker held during National Police Week the past 3 years. Michael is also the host of a podcast titled Faith on the Force and is a speaker for Billy Graham’s National Law Enforcement Retreat.
Crystal Street

Crystal Street

VOLUNTEER

Crystal Street was born into a law enforcement family. Her Father, 18-year veteran LAPD Sergeant II, Israel Sonny Medina, 39 years old died by suicide on February 15, 2000 and it changed her life forever.

Crystal is dedicated for being an advocating for Crisis Intervention and stopping the stigma concerning law enforcement mental health. Crystal has taken advantage of being able to tell their story and became a CIT Trainer and Advocate. She created a Crisis Intervention Training for Law Enforcement video with the San Bernardino County Advanced Officers Training and San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health that is played at all Academy classes.

Nicole Rikard

Nicole Rikard

VOLUNTEER

Nicole Gonnelli Rikard is the widow of John Rikard, an Asheville Police Sergeant who died by suicide on December 9, 2015. Before her world was turned upside down with John’s sudden death, Nicole had been a civilian employee in law enforcement since 2000. She obtained her degree in Criminology from Florida State University; she spent 11 years as crime scene investigator with the Boca Raton Police Department; then 3 years with the Asheville Police Department as a Forensic Technician.

Nicole takes to heart and sincere pride in her position as Honor Box Coordinator for Blue H.E.L.P. Nicole has found her purpose in working with and learning from other widows.

Wendy McIlwraith

Wendy McIlwraith

VOLUNTEER

Wendy was the wife of a twenty five year veteran Officer David McIlwraith, who lost his battle with P.T.S. and died by suicide on May 10, 2011.  Wendy has worked as a publicist, freelance journalist and a medical assistant. She is the creator of the Facebook page “Bound by the Shield’ where she offers support, current news and updates on law enforcement topics; primarily geared toward law enforcement mental health and suicide. Wendy is working with several Georgia lawmakers to pass laws which will aid officers in their search for emotional assistance. She speaks about the aftermath of police officer suicide hopes to create a national protocol for post-suicide family support.

Dwayne English

Dwayne English

VOLUNTEER

Dwayne is a 21 year veteran of the Joliet Police Department, currently serving as a patrol sergeant.  Dwayne was introduced to law enforcement at a young age, with both parents being members of the law enforcement community.  Dwayne has been a crisis negotiator for over 15 years as well as both a member and speaker on his department’s peer assistance team.  He is a CIT officer, a certified crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line and he is also certified in Critical Incident Stress Debriefing.  He currently holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and has a future goal of obtaining a degree in social work.  Officer wellness is extremely important to Dwayne as he continues his work to erase the stigma associated with seeking mental health assistance. 

Kelly Preston

Kelly Preston

VOLUNTEER

Kelly Preston has a life time of community service.  She started as an EMT/Firefighter in 1993 and then became a Deputy Jailer.  She went on to become a 9-1-1 Dispatcher for 20 years.  She took medical retirement for PTS in 2017 after her husband who was a Newport Police Officer and a 20 year police veteran and Marine Veteran committed suicide in January of 2016 while she was on shift.  She is a Director at Behind the Badge, and has 4 children.