Family First Series: Omar
May 17, 2021
Sharonda Calderon is a public safety renaissance woman. Over the course of her career, she has worked a decade in corrections, spent time working in dispatch, and is now the Program Director for Blue H.E.L.P., a nonprofit that provides education and support for officers and families struggling with PTSD and mental health issues.
Sharonda is as close as anyone to the struggle of PTSD. Her husband, Omar, lost his battle to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2018. “Omar battled for many years in silence. It is within the loneliness of that silence that he lost his fight. It is an honor to use my voice to fight for those that continue to suffer in silence.”
The loss of her husband gave Sharonda a new sense of purpose, both personally and professionally. In addition to her work with Blue H.E.L.P., Sharonda facilitates several support groups that assist in several mental health spaces, such as support for families of LE officers who have committed suicide and support for those struggling with mental health issues or suicidal thoughts themselves. Sharonda is a mental health crisis hotline operator, and is currently back in school, pursuing advanced studies in clinical psychology. “It's because of [Omar] I learned to accept being loved. It's because of us, that I'm still able to share it.”
When it’s time to take a step back from her work, she spends time with her children. They watch Marvel movies together and relax. Despite the constant pressures of the job, Sharonda finds purpose and takes pride in her ability to help others. She is motivated by the memory of her husband. “I am Omar's voice, I am a part of his legacy, and through me he will continue to live on.”