Finding Hope

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Former Boise Fire Department Battalion Chief opens up about mental health

Posted: 12:23 PM, Jul 15, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-15 14:44:37-04

BOISE — "Honestly, after 27 years of serving in the Boise Fire Department, I found a lot of those calls are still in my backpack," said former Battalion Chief Jake Ellis.

Jake Ellis retired in 2014 and now works as a legislator who represents Idaho first responders. This year, a new law allows first responders to claim workers' compensation for PTSI without a corresponding physical injury.

"On the state level it told people there are others, you are not alone, and that, by itself, is an incredible benefit," said Ellis. "It is an injury that can be treated. It's not a disorder. It's not a weakness It is an injury like any other and you can unload that backpack and experience joy again."

There has been a mental health stigma among first responders, especially when Ellis was a young firefighter. He never found a way to deal with that and he said his family suffered because of it.

"I thought I was protecting my family by putting things in my backpack. The truth is my family was affected; they had to deal with my anger and they didn't realize that all of that was due to carrying around a backpack full of memories," said Ellis.

Coming up on Thursday, we will introduce you to Jake Ellis's son who wants to be a firefighter and is already working to break the mental health stigma in an effort to help others find hope.