Boise Chief of Police Michael Masterson was honored today by members of the Idaho Veterans Network for his leadership in advocating for improvements in local services provided to our community's veterans. The Chief, set to retire in 2015, said it has been an important mission for him and members of the Boise Police Department, to improve veteran's services as a way to keep veterans, their families and their community safe.
"It speaks to the values of the entire department that improving safety for some of our community's most vulnerable populations like veterans is a priority." said Chief Masterson.
"This is also a critical issue for officer safety since people turn to police when a personal crisis takes a violent or frightening turn and families feel threatened. If we can get these folks the help and services they need before anyone is put in danger, that's a success."
In a presentation by Marnie Bernard,co-founder of the Idaho Veterans Network, she said:
"Like minded people existed in small pockets in our community. Those people had the same goal, to improve the lives of our returning veterans. It was Chief Masterson who united all of us in August, 2010 through his leadership and organizing capabilities. Due to his involvement, many veterans have been saved from the fate of a lifetime of drugs and alcohol and all the way to saving the lives of those who could have taken the final step.
Idaho Veterans Network would like to present this award to Chief Michael Masterson as our humble way of saying thank you for all you have done for veterans in our community, our state and our nation. You have brought the plight of our veterans to the forefront and lives have been and continue to be saved."
The honor was given to the Chief this morning during a meeting of the veteran's advocacy group Joining Forces for Treasure Valley Veterans.
Background: Concern for public safety identified veterans as a uniquely vulnerable population:
Chief Masterson has been an active advocate for enhanced services for veterans since 2009 when a confrontation between a veteran and Boise Police officers resulted in shots fired. Fortunately no one was hurt. Chief Masterson said the officers had no way of knowing, under immanent threat of gunfire, the suspect was a decorated war veteran with diagnosed combat related stress.
The Chief found that case in July, 2009 was not isolated, either locally or nationally. Numerous Boise area agencies had been working hard to provide a variety of services for returning veterans but often operated independently. Chief Masterson reached out to their leadership and together, they created the group Joining Forces for Treasure Valley Veterans. The group has grown to dozens of members from government, military and community-based programs who now meet monthly to provide information, share resources and work toward solutions on issues including health care, transportation, housing, employment and education.
"This honor is very nice, but the heroes are those who work diligently every day to meet the needs of those who have served their country with distinction. The coordination of veterans services in the Treasure Valley is now a model for the rest of the state and the country. These veterans have done their job. Now it's our job to welcome them home with compassion and the services they need to rejoin their families and communities and provide for a safe and healthy future." said the Chief.