Joseph A Capps PhD., CEdD


  Dr. Capps is a chaplain and the chief psychological officer of the Virginia Defense Force Psychological Resources Program. Dr. Capps also owns and operates Capps Christian Counseling LLC.  Dr. Capps has extensive experience with trauma, PTSD, PTS, Cumulative stress, complex trauma, and crisis and abuse counseling. He has faithfully served the past six years with the Virginia Defense Force. He is responsible for the creation of the VDF Mental Health Initiative, and the standing up of the Psychological Resources Program.

Dr. Capps is a certified QPR Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention Instructor. His experience includes being a Certified Disaster Response Chaplain, and Emergency Services Chaplain. He works with Military, Law Enforcement, EMS, and Firefighters, as well as families that are experiencing crisis. Dr. Capps specializes in the effects of trauma, and abuse. Dr. Capps is a Certified Field Traumatologist and Clinical Member of Green Cross Academy of Traumatology.

Dr. Capps has formed TASK FORCE HEAL. Specific training geared towards military, law enforcement, emergency services, and first responders. Prevention, CISM, CIT, Mental Health Awareness, Psychological First Aid, Skills for Psychological Recovery, Resiliency, trauma-complex trauma, cumulative stress, PTSD-PTS, Traumatic Grief, Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention etc., are among training courses offered. 

Contact info -

Thomas Giannettino


  In 2010 Tom was victim to a vicious assault while employed as an Investigator with the New York State Police. The result of this assault left him completely broken both physically and mentally.  Several years of physical therapy and numerous surgeries was not enough to regain normal range of motion in his right shoulder. His most recent injury in 2010 triggered a very significant mental health crisis. He  was spiraling into depression and post-traumatic stress from over 21 years of military service from combat in Operation Desert Storm to standing next to the collapse of the twin towers after the devastation of 9/11 and his service as a New York State Trooper. Immediately after his shoulder injury he spent a couple years in a very dark place and lost his identity. It wasn't until he left the Dare2tri's camp that he discovered what his new aspirations were. The structure involved in training for triathlons was the spark that he needed. The process caused him to believe in himself again, inspire others, be a better person and give back to others. That’s when he realized that taking a knee was okay, hitting the reset button, refocusing and repurposing his life was possible. Through Code 9 Heroes and Families, Tom wants to share this journey and give a spark of hope to someone who may be struggling like he once was. 


 presentation "Rock Bottom to Red, White and Blue" is an inspirational story of hope, perseverance, teamwork and fighting adversity.   

Contact info - 315-406-8959



Suicide Prevention Specialist, Mental Health Speaker & Author

Sarah Gaer is a suicide loss survivor and a Master's Level Clinician with 20 years’ experience in the field of mental health care.  Her graduate degree work was focused on military veterans and trauma.  She’s worked as an outpatient clinician, on a crisis team, and led a team of crisis counselors following the June 1st, 2011 tornado in Western and Central MA through a FEMA Crisis Counseling Program (CCP).

Sarah currently works as a Suicide Prevention Specialist focused on first responders with Riverside Trauma Center.  She has trained hundreds of first responders in trauma and suicide prevention in Massachusetts and is a QPR (Question, Persuade & Refer) Master Trainer for the QPR Institute.  Sarah is also member of the Riverside Trauma Center trauma team and has responded to suicides, homicides, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks throughout Massachusetts.  She has also worked with many families after their loss by suicide and is currently co-chair of the Pioneer Valley Coalition for Suicide Prevention, and sits on the Executive Committee for the Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention.

She has presented her work at International, National, and State Suicide Prevention Conferences and her writings have been published by SAMHSA and the Good Men Project.  Sarah just published her first novel "The Price" 

and is preparing to publish Guts, Grit & The Grind: MENtal Mechanics MANual, and her first children’s book.  

Contact info - 

Deborah Louise Ortiz


Deborah is the Founder of the nonprofit organization Code 9 Heroes and Families United.

She is also the co-producer and director of the award-winning documentary 

Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance

Deborah has 17 years of experience working with First Responders and families. This labor of love brings education and awareness to the first responder community. Deborah's commitment to her family and work towards change in the first responder culture is her passion. Healthy first responders and families both in body and mind in the prevention of PTSD and suicide is her continued mission. 

Deborah is the wife of a state trooper who, after a 22-year career, began experiencing the horrors and nightmares of PTSD. Her experience, both as the spouse of a police officer and the one who went through these struggles with her husband, inspired her to take her broad experience as writer and producer and apply it to a documentary on the emotional struggles and needs of law enforcement officers and their families. As a family member, Deborah could no longer sit back and continue to watch first responders and families suffering. She strongly believes that in coming together with other organizations, real change can happen. Deborah is currently working with others to bring the desperately needed education, training, tools and resources to first responders and their families.  We must not forget the families! 

Contact info -



Captain Robert Cubby served for 38 years with the Jersey City (NJ) Police Department, now retired.  A PTSD survivor, he has been involved in PTSD issues with the CISM team.  A prolific author, Captain Cubby focuses on writing about his experiences and solving police problems. 

Robert is a National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) instructor about police matters and a frequent conference speaker.  He also co facilitates a support group for first responders and veterans who have experienced PTSD. He remains actively involved in non traditional alternative therapies for PTSD as well as receiving training in the traditional methods.

Ron Slagle


Ron Slagle is police officer in Marion, IA, a U.S. Air Force veteran, a high school coach, father and husband. He is the creator of the Honor and Respect Athletic shoe He says "I am honored to be a part of something much larger than myself, my way of helping the ones who help all of us".

From Ron: "We have seen the statistics on mental health needs and suicide amongst first responders and know they continue to increase. We want people to know that help is here and more help is on the way. We considered how we could help and show the rest of the country that by doing something small with a lot of love, you can make a difference.  In this profession you never accomplish anything without the help of others. I reached out to my friend Mike O'Donnell and together we have created the Honor and Respect athletic shoe. We created the shoe for one purpose and that is to help the first responders so that they can continue to help all of us"Hon.

Contact us at