For more than a decade, Sam Buser watched the lights of fire trucks bounce off the city streets of Houston, heard the roars of burning blazes and stood before the caskets of too many firefighters.
He never held a hose or kicked in a door, but, as senior psychologist for the Houston Fire Department, he spent many sleepless nights at fire stations.
His job was to convince those who run toward the fire that it's okay to help themselves. But for much of his career, he was something of a rarity in Texas. Even as resources have been poured into law enforcement agencies for decades to solve well-publicized mental health issues, the same can’t be said for fire departments.
The reasons are simple: There isn’t enough money to go around at many cities or volunteer jurisdictions, and many fire departments have not been ready to drop their stigma around mental health.