First Responders and Veterans in Rural America

Rural America

One in five Americans live in rural communities. Rural communities exist in nearly every state and territory, not just in the Midwest. Most rural chronic economic challenges occur because of changing global economies of globalization, including manufacturing losses, economic restructuring, and agricultural consolidation.

Law enforcement: Because rural areas are faced with unique challenges, police in rural areas may face complications and issues that police officers in urban areas do not. These problems can place a strain on rural police departments, making their jobs more difficult.

According to a 2017 American Community Survey Report, veterans choose rural communities for a variety of reasons, including: more privacy, open space for recreation, lower cost of living, and transition isolation preferred for healing. While veterans may enjoy the benefits of rural living, they may also experience rural health care challenges that are intensified by combat-related trauma.

Teachers: Stress for teachers in rural America includes the challenge of recruiting enough of them to be interested in relocating, teaching with poor internet connections, having to be entrepreneurial, and addressing family economic issues.

Veterans: While veterans may enjoy the benefits of rural living, they may also experience rural health care challenges that are intensified by combat-related trauma. Basic levels of health care or preventative care may not be available to support veterans’ long-term health and wellbeing due to rural delivery challenges.

The objective of Heal the Hero’s Rural America Initiative is the revitalization of law enforcement, teachers and veterans living in rural America, helping them realize success potential for themselves and for their families. We believe that the revitalization of mental health is a key for the reinvigoration of our rural communities.

Dawson Community College

Dawson Community College, Glendive, Montana.

Highlights: Rural America Veterans Program Outcomes

(Final Scores from a 6-Month Program) 

Reduction of the impacts of Trauma, Depression, and Anxiety

  • 36% reduction in Trauma
  • 23% reduction in Depressive Symptoms
  • 33% reduction in Anxiety Symptoms

Improvement to Employee Quality of Life 

  • 34 % Psychological Health
  • 23% Physical Health
  • 17% General Feeling about life
  • 12% Environment
  • 8% Social Relationships
  • 18% Overall Quality of Life (total)

Improved Executive Functioning for Increased Work Performance 

  • 41% Attention
  • 35% Emotion Regulation
  • 35% Working Memory
  • 31% Self-Monitoring
  • 31% Inhibitory Control
  • 31% Planning
  • 28% Flexibility
  • 26% Initiation
  • 25% Organization

“The Heal the Hero program has been a game changer for our family. My wife became pregnant during the program and our stress levels and anxiety have still been much lower than before we started. Going to college during the program has allowed me to recognize the significant improvement in my mental performance. Now I feel prepared to take on the challenges of daily life and pay the kindness forward with volunteer services for our community. I want to thank everyone at Heal the Hero for everything they’ve done for us!”

Thad and Eryn Rule