The phone rang at 5:15 a.m. It was the fire department dispatch calling to say that Jeannine's Barrera's husband, Oscar, had been hurt in a fire, but that he was okay.
Oscar Barrera, a firefighter with the Stockton Fire Department in California, was alive but had suffered severe injuries and burns in a structure fire collapse. Jeannine tells the story of Oscar's recovery in the hospital, and her challenge with remaining strong in the face of the trauma and grief that surrounded other co-workers and family members who were impacted by the incident.
Jeannine describes her struggles with Oscar’s lengthy recovery, “I didn’t cry during his hospitalization or recovery,” she explains. “It was a year later before I cried for the first time. I was busy trying to be strong and take care of things. That was my role."
Her story is about the discovery of peer support through Phoenix SOAR and the benefit of peer support for spouses and families of firefighters. She is refreshing and open about her entire family’s struggle with all of the emotional aspects of recovery – alone and without support from someone who understood or had ‘been there’.
Inspired by the difference peer support made in their lives, Jeannine joined Oscar, and became a trained, Phoenix SOAR peer supporter. "Peer support would have helped me better help myself", she says. "I just want other spouses of firefighters to know we're in this together."