U.S. Surgeon General Keynotes Bridge Forum, an Impactful HeroZona Foundation ‘Mental Health’ Event in Indianapolis

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Community Leaders in Government, Law Enforcement and Healthcare Join Forces to go Beyond the Stigma

The HeroZona Foundation is excited to announce a special segment of the Bridge Forum, “Mental Health,” during which a panel of Indiana leaders, including a keynote from U.S. Surgeon General (VADM) Jerome M. Adams, will discuss mental health issues plaguing the state and what actions can be taken to help community members struggling to access the resources they need. The event will take place on Thursday, November 19 from 9 to 12 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis (1 S. Capitol Ave). The invitation-only event is supported by the State of Indiana Attorney General’s Office, Greater Indianapolis NAACP Branch #3053, Indianapolis Urban League, the Indiana Drug Enforcement Association, National Newspaper Publishers Association and Vitanya Brain Performance, a company revolutionizing modern neuroscience to maximize brain function. The forum will also be livestreamed to the public at Facebook.com/HeroZonaOrg/Live.

“The pandemic has caused a wave of negative repercussions, mental health being one of them,” says Ron Williams, president of the HeroZona Foundation. “The uncertainty, stress and tension across the nation has shown us that now, more than ever, it is crucial to find solutions for depression, anxiety and other mental health issues in our underserved communities that lack access to proper support. We are thankful to these distinguished leaders for supporting our cause and helping us take action to help Americans in need.”

Event panelists include Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia A. Caine, Marion County Superior Court Judge David Certo, Elkhart Police Department Senior Chaplain Jim Bontrager and Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears. Special guests of the forum include Indianapolis NAACP President Chrystal Ratcliffe and Indianapolis Urban League President & CEO Anthony “Tony” Mason. The opening remarks of the event will be delivered by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, followed by the keynote from U.S. Surgeon General (VADM) Jerome M. Adams M.D., M.P.H.

“Mental and emotional health is a topic that HeroZona continues to work very closely on with veteran and first responder communities, both disproportionately affected by issues like depression, PTSD and suicide,” says Alan “AP” Powell, Chairman of AP & Associates - Strategic Alliances, U.S. Army Desert-Storm Veteran and founder of HeroZona. “While the forum may have started in Arizona, these issues plague the entire world, and we are working diligently to find solutions.”

“Police work by its very nature involves carrying out difficult duties that challenge the psychological well-being of even the strongest individuals,” Attorney General Hill says. “Every day, officers deal with community members facing their own serious mental-health issues, often in situations fraught with extreme stress and tension. One key to helping de-escalate potentially explosive interactions is to help connect all individuals — both police and civilians — with resources that help nurture and protect mental health. That is one important objective of this forum. Let us move beyond the stigma and make progress together.”

"As a community, we must remove the stigma associated with mental illness and advocate strongly for better training for police officers who find themselves serving as mental health intervenors," says Chrystal Ratcliffe, president of the Greater Indianapolis Branch of the NAACP. "The NAACP, in frequent conversations with law enforcement agencies and lawmakers, has urged more allocation of resources to better prepare officers on how to interact with the mentally ill. On a national level the NAACP has further suggested the U.S. Department of Justice develop national training standards and provide mental health toolkits to departments. We feel with these steps, the number of police-community confrontations will decrease, and we can foster an environment toward de-escalation rather than deadly outcomes."

The special edition of the Bridge Forum will be moderated by the President & CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, National Director of the Million Man March, and Assistant to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. Dr. Chavis first received international recognition in 1971 as the leader of the Wilmington Ten, when he was wrongfully convicted of committing arson and received the longest sentence before winning his appeal in 1980. He recently kicked-off his brand-new public television show called “The Chavis Chronicles” on PBS, which is seen as a combination of “Meet the Press” and “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” but with an urban American flare.

The Bridge Forum first came to Indianapolis on October 6, where Indiana leaders in government and law enforcement discussed systemic racism in America and what actions can be taken to achieve equality. The panel included Lake County Prosecutor Bernard A. Carter, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief of Police Randal Taylor, Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police President William Owensby, Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. and National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives President Lynda R. Williams. Also in attendance were City of Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, Indiana State Representative for District 95 John L. Bartlett, Fort Wayne United Director Iric Headley and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.

In January 2018, the Scottsdale Police Department in Arizona implemented 29 new initiatives from the Scottsdale Bridge Forum 2017, which included establishing sufficient resources for police personnel dealing with trauma, establishing dialogue opportunities with under-served communities, enhancing engagement with the community’s youth and identifying ways to address the needs of the community related to behavioral health.

For more information about the Bridge Forum and to stream its upcoming event on Thursday, November 19, visit Facebook.com/HeroZonaOrg.

About the HeroZona Foundation
The HeroZona Foundation is a non-profit organization that empowers Heroes in the community through entrepreneurship, employment, and education. The group works with veterans, first responders and those that bring social good to future generations and under-served communities. The foundation’s mission is to create opportunities for the brave men and women who serve their country, and community, every day. For more information, please visit HeroZona.org.

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Ivana Morales