Mutual aid groups are everywhere and their mission statements are as varied and complex as the topics they address. But in Brentwood, a recently formed group has a very specific and simple mission: to provide resources and support for the wives and families of police officers. They are called Wives Behind the Badge (WBTB), and the Brentwood charter is part of a nationwide organization. Founded in 2006 by the wife of a Southern California police officer looking for the support and advice only families of police officers can provide, WBTB has grown to include hundreds of members across the nation and abroad.
“Everyone’s group has its own kind of support, and this is ours,” said Krystal Kathain, one of the group’s 15-plus members. “It just works for us.”
Still in its organizational stages, the Brentwood chapter of WBTB comprises a young group of spouses and families brought together by their partner’s jobs but bonded by a mutual understanding and respect for their unique lifestyles. “I just feel like people don’t really understand what it’s like,” said Marcy Bell. “But these women do. I feel like it is a real sisterhood.”
“It’s true,” agreed Marti Couch. “For some of our husbands it’s hard for them to come home and make a decision about something like dinner after spending a day dealing with what they do. Having someone else who gets that is amazing.”
Learning to cope with the day-to-day stress of being a police spouse is an ongoing process for these young wives, who work to combat their fears while in some cases holding down a job, raising a family and providing a safe, soft and welcoming place for their husbands to land after a day on the beat.
But the proactive group has learned to cope, survive and thrive in some creative and simple ways. “I stopped listening to the police scanner,” said Kathain. “Once I did that I was a lot better.”
“We never watch a certain news station in our home because it is always negative when it comes to the police,” added Couch.
“I was a lot more worried before I went on a ride-along,” said Kathain. “But once I saw how he is on the job, I thought ‘he’s fine; he’s got this.’”
But WBTB is more than a support group – it’s a team of avid cheerleaders. “We all got involved because we were also looking for ways to put a different face on law enforcement,” said Couch. “We wanted to go and do something good for the community and be involved in positive works.”
The group launches its first fundraiser Saturday, June 23 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Harvest Park Bowl, 5000 Balfour Road in Brentwood. The event features bowling, karaoke and raffles to benefit the Northern California Auxiliary #2 branch of WBTB. Even more important than the money raised will be the show of support for those who wear the badge.
“We’re hopeful this will be a very successful annual event,” said Couch. “And really, I think we all feel like it’s the very least we can do for all that they do.”
“They are our heroes, plain and simple,” said Lisa Oerlemans. “We are all so proud of them.”
Admission to the event ($20 for adults, $10 for children under 15) includes two hours of bowling, bowling shoes and unlimited popcorn and soda. For tickets or additional information, e-mail Marti Couch at email@example.com. For more information on WBTB, visit www.wivesbehindthebadge.org.