Local Couple Mentor And Presenter Of First Responder Mental Health At The Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute

Left: Carla Holmes Meadows, Arthur Battles, and Jennifer Battles, Ph.D.
Chief Carl Holmes, Founder of Executive Development Institute for Firefighters


NEW ORLEANS, LA. – On June 2-7, 2024, Arthur and Jennifer Battles, Orlando residents, served as mentor and presenter at the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute (EDI) held on the beautiful campus of the Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana, a Historically Black College (HBC). Mr. Battles, a retired firefighter, functioned as the logistics director and student mentor. He and his team oversaw the operations of the entire conference to make things run smoothly and encouraged students on their learning journey.  Recognizing that firefighters are at risk of prolonged high levels of stress, Jennifer Battles, Ph.D., one of the EDI keynote speakers gave an informative, interactive, and inspiring presentation on First Responder Mental Health.

EDI, established by Carl Holmes (deceased 2017), offers leadership training for firefighters in various positions. This one-week annual career-building conference consists of workshops and course modules ranging from Level 1 through Level 6 taught by highly qualified professionals. It helps individuals gain essential knowledge and skills to perform leadership roles within and outside the fire service.

Under the guidance of the esteemed Chief Dave Washington and Carla Holmes Meadows, daughter of the late Carl Holmes and Chairperson, this year’s EDI conference trained 249 students, including male and female firefighters from the United States and around the world,. Each session commenced with the instructors and students passionately reciting the EDI mantra coined by Mr. Holmes:  ‘All that I am I owe, I live eternally in the red.’  Many graduates, having ascended to the ranks of Fire Chief and other positions within the fire service, attribute their readiness for leadership to the EDI training.

Mr. Battles, a graduate of EDI and former Deputy Chief of the Eatonville Fire Rescue Department, has been affiliated with the EDI organization for over 33 years. Each year, he, along with EDI instructors and supporters, show their strong commitment to this worthwhile training by volunteering their time and resources to ensure the Carl Holmes EDI training is sustained. They find joy and fulfillment as they mentor and support students aspiring to be leaders and share through storytelling with existing leaders how to strengthen and sharpen their leadership abilities.

During the EDI conference, in honor of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month in June, Dr. Jennifer Battles presented on the topic First Responder Mental Health. She captivated the audience’s attention as she started her presentation with an enthusiastic greeting and the phrase “Live Well and Excel.” Her main point was to be a leader; you must be proactive to live well -mentally, physically, and spiritually so that you can perform well and excel in your career. A healthy mind does not happen by accident. Dr. Battles through conversation and a discussion panel of six firefighters of varying ranks talked about 10 practical ways to maintain mental wellness. While life can be stressful, the essential habits that contribute to coping and stress management that may buffer the effects of PTSD are 1) spending time with family and making good memories, 2) surrounding self with positive people, 3) self-affirmations – “I am statements; I am fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God,” 4) reading scripture and quoting the promises of God, 5) eating nutritious foods, 6) exercising, 7) sleeping 7-8 hours/night, 8) maintaining work-life balance – more money should never interfere with protecting your mental health and making good memories with family and friends, 9) participating in work-directed debriefs following traumatic events and, 10) seeking mental health counseling when indicated. The highly engaged instructors and students welcomed the talk on mental health, gave positive feedback, and requested more conversations about it.

Knowing and witnessing the pressing need for executive leadership education and the cultivation of future leaders, as well as seeing the profound impact of mentoring and advocating for mental wellness on the students and instructors, both Arthur and Jennifer encourage firefighters to consider attending the training. Also, they are committed to continuing their involvement in the Carl Holmes EDI training program.

To learn more about the Carl Holmes EDI and how to enroll in the leadership training visit at EDI Homepage – The Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute (EDI) (carlholmesedi.org)