Honor Wellness Center is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization developed to serve the mental health needs of first responders and their families. The Center will house an Intensive OutPatient Treatment Program for the treatment of first responders addictions, mental health and trauma, regardless of their ability to pay for services. There will also be an outpatient counseling program for first responders and their families, as well as a sober living environment.
Who we are
Phyllis DiGioia is the Founder and Director of Honor Wellness Center, an outpatient mental health, addictions and trauma treatment center for first responders and their families.
Phyllis has been a Social Worker for 27 years and earned her licensure to practice Clinical Social Work in the state of Connecticut in 2005. She has specialized in first responder case management and clinical mental health, addictions and trauma treatment for 17 years.
Phyllis is a certified POST instructor and earned her CISM certification in 2003. Phyllis is also a Certified Employee Assistance Professional and has served as the Contract Manager for the State of Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection’s Employee Assistance Program contract since 2010.
Phyllis also currently serves as Treasurer on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Alliance to Benefit Law Enforcement.
Trish Buchanan is the widow of East Hartford, Connecticut Police Officer Paul S. Buchanan, Badge Number 20, who died by suicide on March 12, 2013. She seeks to bring light to the subject of police suicide by talking about it. Trish is an executive assistant in a Hartford Connecticut suburb and the proud mother of two sons. Her current passion is working on "BELIEVE 208" in collaboration with the Connecticut Alliance to Benefit Law Enforcement (CABLE) to enhance awareness and support law enforcement officer mental health.
She is also a writer and shares her journey at www.lawenforcementtoday.com She established the 5K "Believe 208- Run for the Brave and Finest" for all first responders which is held each September.
Attorney Jeffery Ment
The head of the firm’s Hartford office, Jeffrey L. Ment joined Silver Golub & Teitell LLP., last year after 24 years with another Hartford law firm. His areas of practice include medical malpractice, personal Injury, product liability, travel and tourism/hospitality law, and first responder matters.
Mr. Ment has tried more than 30 cases to verdict as well as many more cases resolved in arbitration and mediation. He is highly recognized and respected among the first responder community.
He has represented more than 1,000 first responders in Connecticut and routinely responds to the scene of a police officer involved in a shooting to provide legal counsel to the involved officer. Other matters that he routinely handles for police officers include:
Heart & Hypertension
Internal Affairs Investigations
Use of Deadly Force Investigations
Service Connected Disability
Louise Pyers is the founder and Executive Director of the Connecticut Alliance to Benefit Law Enforcement (CABLE), Inc., a statewide police-community research and training collaborative consisting of police, mental health professionals, people living with mental illnesses, and institutions of higher learning. The organization is the sole source provider of Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training to law enforcement agencies within Connecticut. Crisis Intervention Team training encourages safe and effective deescalation strategies that work with people in mental health crises and connects them to mental health partners in the community whenever possible. To date, CABLE has trained almost 3000 personnel across the state with funding from the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
To address the high rate of suicide in the public safety professions, Louise and her colleagues developed and provide specialized Peer Support Training for Public Safety Personnel and co-sponsor a yearly "Mindfitness and Resiliency" Weekend for First Responders in partnership with the organization Believe 208. CABLE also offers trauma-informed training for counselors to help them understand the essential clinical elements for working within the police culture.
Louise also is certified in Critical Incident Stress Management and assists Peer Teams across the state.
In addition to her work at CABLE, Louise is also the Criminal Justice Project Director at NAMI-Connecticut where she works on collaborative mental health projects within the criminal justice community.
Louise is a Masters Level Clinician, Board Certified in Traumatic Stress and is a Certified Police Trainer for the CT Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POST).
Retired Police Captain Rob Rudewicz
Rob Rudewicz is the former Director of the Substance Abuse Action Council; a program of Community Mental Health Affiliates. He provides prevention and education about addiction and recovery in a nine-town region. He has worked in the non-profit sector since 2003 after his retirement from law enforcement.
He is a retired Police Officer from the City of Hartford. Rob started his public safety career with the city in 1982 working in the patrol division. He was promoted to Sergeant in 1991; Lieutenant in 1996; Captain in 1999, and retiring in 2002. Rob has a long history in addiction and recovery education having helped build an Employee Assistance Program for the department beginning in 1990. It is his professional experience along with his own personal journey of recovery that drives his passion for helping people.
Rob is a Recovery Coach trained in the CT Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) model. He holds a bachelor degree in Communications from Central CT State University and a Master of Science degree in Organizational Psychology from the University of Hartford.
Police Officer Theresa Velez
Theresa has been working for the Hartford Police Department since 2004. She is currently the Employee Assistance Program and CIT Coordinator for the department as of July 2016. Her assignment prior to the EAP position was as the north end Community Service Officer for the north east area of Hartford and had held that position for 8 years. In that position, Theresa initiated a proactive approach to an otherwise reactive one. She steadily worked on recruiting a team of city and state representatives from various agencies. This team, consisting of representatives from State DEEP, State DMV, State Liquor Control, State Revenue and Tax Services, City and State Housing, City Building, City License and Inspections, and City Health Inspectors whose sole purpose is to combat crime through the implementation of CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design). The Mayor of Hartford has joined the effort and has developed a team (Livable and Sustainable Neighborhood Initiative) city wide to combat crime and blight using the theories and practice of CPTED.
Theresa is also a P.O.S.T certified instructor of Report Writing, Police and the Public, Civil Complaints and Service Calls, Problem Solving Policing, In Custody Deaths (Excited Delirium), as well as a graduate of Train the Trainer C.P.T.E.D. She is a C.I.T. (Crisis Intervention Team) member for the department for approximately 9 years and is also an instructor for C.A.B.L.E. (CT. Alliance to Benefit Law Enforcement). Theresa has been trained as a Critical Incident Response – Mitchell Model PEER and is currently facilitating a statewide CISM Law Enforcement Team. Theresa is currently a Board of Director member for the Chaplain for Hartford’s Fraternal Order of Police (Lodge 30), Vice President of the Police & Fire Association, Board of Directors for C.A.B.L.E., as well as an active member of the Board of Directors for Inter-Community.
Police Captain Christopher McKee (Army Veteran)
Police Officer Sandra Quinonez
Sandra joined the Bridgeport Police Department 17 years ago, and after graduating the academy, went to work in the Housing Unit for the Bridgeport Police Department. She has also served in the Tactical Narcotics Units (TNT) for an Undercover Officer (UC) and later worked for the Connecticut State Police State Wide Narcotics Unit. She has also been assigned to the Neighborhood Enforcement Team (NET), a strategic enforcement street team where we specifically worked for the Chief of Police and the Mayors office in high crime areas.
She is a current member of the Bridgeport Police Honor Guard Unit as well as the Leader of the Unit. She was the Lead instructor at the Bridgeport Police Academy and Adjunct Instructor at the Connecticut State Police Academy/ POSTC and has taught Constitutional Law, Interview and Interrogation at the first ever Bridgeport Military Academy High School (Explorer High School).
Emergency Dispatcher Tammy Wright
Tammy has served more than 23 years in public safety. She began in 1995 with the Berlin (CT) Police Department as a front-line dispatcher, where she is currently serving in the position of Administrative Dispatcher. In addition to managing 9-1-1 services for the Town of Berlin, Ms. Wright is a founding member of the Berlin Police Peer Support program, Shoulder to Shoulder, and remains highly active with the team.
In 2018, Ms. Wright was appointed to the Connecticut Enhanced 9-1-1 Commission by the Governor. As a highly respected Commissioner, Ms. Wright effects positive industry change with the state 9-1-1 system and services, while she represents the needs of Public Safety Telecommunicators statewide.
Having passion and pride for public safety and those that are in it, Ms. Wright has received numerous awards from both Police and Fire services throughout her career. In addition, the Atlantic Chapter of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) named her the Telecommunicator of the Year in 2016. Ms. Wright has served on numerous committees and task forces benefiting the members of APCO and is currently on the APCO Atlantic Board of Officers.