Tristan Schulz’s Mother Urges Supervisors to Support First Responders’ Mental Health

Mindy Schulz, the mother of the infant who died after being hit by an SUV in a Lansdowne crosswalk, and a witness to that crash came to Loudoun supervisors last week asking them not to cut a proposed behavioral health program for first responders from the county budget.

Schulz was pushing her infant son Tristan through a crosswalk in a stroller Aug. 31, 2016, when they were both struck, killing Tristan and seriously injuring Schulz.

“Knowing what I saw and experienced that August day, my heart breaks for those brave men and women who sacrifice their mental and emotional well-being and even their lives to save the rest of us,” Schulz told supervisors March 6. “I wonder frequently how they are able to continue day after day in the face of such grueling and heart-wrenching reality.”

County Administrator Tim Hemstreet included a half-million-dollar program to set up a behavioral health program for career and volunteer fire and rescue first responders in his proposed fiscal year 2019 budget.

That proposal includes hiring a new behavioral health coordinator, trained in psychology or a related field, to focus on developing the behavioral health program and daily support. It would also include contracting for regular behavioral health training for first responders.

Supervisors are revising that budget now and looking for places to trim it further.

Schulz and Nicole Nixon, who witnessed the crash, both encouraged supervisors not to cut that program from the proposed budget.

“Our fire and rescue personnel deserve the respect and support of our elected officials to provide for the mental health needs that their unique and selfless bravery provides for our community,” Schulz said. “The trauma I lived with is from one day in my life, and that will be with me forever. What these brave protectors experience is every single day on the job.”

Supervisors’ votes so far are unofficial straw polls. They are scheduled to take an official vote April 3.

This article was updated Mar. 14 at 2:57 p.m.

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