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St. Lucie County--American Legion Recognizes Firefighter and Police Officer

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  • St. Lucie County--American Legion Recognizes Firefighter and Police Officer

    Palm Beach Post

    St. Lucie lawman, firefighter hailed as tops in Florida


    By Will Vash, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
    Monday, August 4, 2003



    Whether it was healing the wounds of the families of fallen rescuers after Sept. 11 or providing the basics to families at the breaking point, the actions of two St. Lucie County men have been duly recognized.

    Port St. Lucie police officer Rod Dobler and St. Lucie Fire District firefighter/paramedic Tommy Neiman were named the state's top police officer and firefighter of the year by the Florida chapter of the American Legion.

    Neiman, 40, a native of Okeechobee, won for a book he wrote that comforted the families of fallen rescuers after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

    The 18-year veteran, who also serves as one of the fire district's chaplains, said he was surprised by the award.

    "This has been a nice compliment to what I feel I was called to do," Neiman said.

    Neiman wrote Sirens for the Cross, which recounts 15 emergency situations where he found "God's divine presence."

    The book, written a couple years before the terrorist attacks, was so popular after Sept. 11 that Neiman was called to New York to share stories and help heal broken hearts.

    "I had my own two feet on the pile when it was still burning," Neiman said of his visit to ground zero. "I realized I was giving some of these families the only closure they would really have."

    Neiman is also a popular speaker at church events, where he weaves his belief in God with true stories of his adventures as a rescuer.

    Dobler, a 27-year veteran of the Port St. Lucie Police Department, received his award as top cop for his work with children and an organization he founded to help families in trouble.

    "When you're doing the right thing, the awards are tremendous in the eyes of a child," Dobler said. "That's what it's all about."

    Dobler founded Operation Blue Angels in 2001 after an especially tough day when he came across a large family living by candlelight and a woman threatening suicide because she couldn't make her rent payments.

    "I just wanted to go out and accomplish more than answer a call. I wanted to solve the problem," Dobler said.

    Blue Angels identifies families in need, most with young children, and assists them with the help of local businesses and civic organizations.

    Last year, the program helped 37 families and made sure 130 children had Christmas presents.

    "It's real important to give these children self-esteem and self-respect," Dobler said. "Hopefully, we can change the way they look at police officers and their own self-worth."

    Dobler is also a mentor to two first-graders at Windmill Point Elementary School, a member of the board of directors of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Lucie County and an instructor for a program for youth suspended from school.

    "To do what I do you have to have passion," Dobler said. "It's just not a job."

    [email protected]
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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