lifting families of fallen officers
“What do I do now?”
Rachel Anderson asked herself this after a close friend suddenly passed away.
Rachel’s husband, Matt Anderson, is a police officer in Kirkland; Matt’s colleague and close friend, Nathan Rich, suddenly passed away this past October from a brain aneurism. He was only 43 years old.
Matt and Nate worked together for 15 years; the two would go on an annual adventure, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie Pass. In the winter, they were skiing buddies.
When Nate passed away, a community was left wondering, “what do we do?”
During their time of questioning and grieving, Behind the Badge reached out to Nathan’s family and law enforcement agency.
Behind the Badge is a nonprofit based in Issaquah, WA, that serves as a trusted resource for families and communities after an officer has died or suffered a serious injury in the line of duty. They support spouses, children, parents, siblings, significant others, in-laws, and co-workers. They serve law enforcement officers who continue to protect our communities and their families.
The organization began in 1995 when Washington did not yet have a memorial for officers killed in the line of duty. Public funds cannot be used in duty memorials; thus, Behind the Badge seeks to fund and donate for all memorial services.
For Nate’s memorial service, Behind the Badge met with his two kids and family to make sure every aspect was personalized and appropriate. Nate’s hunting gear, rocking chair, beloved tactical tomahawks, and motorcycle were all at the service. Prior to his memorial, arrangements were made to ensure that travel and lodging logistics were in place for out of town family.
When Behind the Badge reaches out to the law enforcement agency and family affected by the fallen officer, the organization lets them know that they can choose to use them as a resource as much or as little as they need, or not at all.” The most important aspect of our work, Vicky Stormo, Behind the Badge Executive Director, says, is
“we tell them we are here.”
This nonprofit is tiny but mighty. Behind the Badge Foundation employs three full-time and two-part time staff members. They have about 40 volunteers.
This community of 40 writes personalized letters to over 300 families; on holidays, the birthday of the fallen officer, or on the date the officer passed away, they send letters and, sometimes, a glassybaby.
Behind the Badge hosts events for surviving families; for example, a fishing trip has been recently planned for kids of fallen officers.
They have a network of people so that if a family needs support with a plumbing problem, small construction needs, attorneys, or other specific skill sets, the organization is able to connect the family. “If we don’t have someone listed in our network of people, we scramble a team together and do whatever needs to be done. Someone needs a handicap ramp, we are there,” Vicky explains.
We are honored to partner with Behind the Badge. For the month of March, we will be giving 10% of web sales to Behind the Badge after they were nominated by a community member who was touched and supported by the work that they do.