Merritt Cassell is the founder of Better Blue. With over two decades of experience in law enforcement and private security, Merritt understands the balance of being mentally, spiritually, and emotionally well while working in this sector.
Serving in a myriad of positions - from a patrol officer on a neighborhood beat, to a role on a specialty unit devoted to crimes involving narcotics and prostitution, to a supervisory role managing a gang unit in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Merritt Cassell has firsthand experience facing and resolving complex situations within the community. Realizing that trauma and tragedy transcends patrol areas - impacting the lives of officers - Merritt is devoted to providing mental health and well-being support for current and former law enforcement officers.
While experiencing personal adversity, Merritt realized the lack of mental health resources available within agencies and departments. The lack of support for mental wellness served as a catalyst for change - prompting and leading to the creation of Better Blue. Merritt Cassell understands the importance of healing through shared connection and hopes the group support network of Better Blue can help to heal and save lives.
MS, NCC, NCSC, LPC
Matthew Armes is a volunteer contributor to Better Blue LLC. He is a licensed professional counselor, a national board-certified counselor, and national board-certified school counselor. In his part-time clinical work, he counsels clients of all ages with a specialized focus in the areas of trauma, anxiety, grief with the goal of identifying, working through and resolving past negative experiences toward healing and peace. He currently works as a counselor for Loudoun County Public Schools in Loudoun, VA. Prior to this, he worked at the University of Pennsylvania's College Achievement Program (PENNCAP) for four years as an Academic Counselor in Philadelphia where he provided academic, career, social and emotional support for FGLI (First-Generation, Low-Income) students from all over the country and the world during their undergraduate studies at Penn. He is originally from Erie, PA, and after college he spent five years working as a high school counselor at Martinsburg High School in Berkeley County, WV. His previous work experience also includes Penn Foster College & Career School and ESPN. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time that encompasses wellness which include quality time with his wife and four children, eating, writing, reading, watching sports, traveling, playing basketball and running.
Howie Scott currently serves as the Active Threat Response Division Lead, and a Master Instructor in the Calm Every Storm curriculum. Howie is a highly experienced member of the Law Enforcement and Tactical Community. Howie has spent over 31 years working in Law Enforcement, with over 15 years of it on a full-time SWAT team in one of the most advanced and progressive departments in the country.
Having participated as a SWAT officer in over 1500 documented high-risk search warrants, and over 150 hostage-barricade situations, he is no stranger to crisis situations and high threat scenario’s. His experience and dedication towards keeping citizens and the community safe is beyond reproach. He is a humble and a talented instructor.
His accomplishments and experiences have enabled him to become a champion for change in how Law Enforcement looks at mental heath and wellness. He provides real world application of both struggle and overcoming struggle and is a great advocate for mental/emotional/spiritual wellness. Howie is a volunteer contributor to Better Blue LLC, and available for mentoring and guidance on positive coping mechanisms for the LEO (Law Enforcement Officer).
Matt, a volunteer contributor to Better Blue LLC, is a medically retired police officer that worked patrol, Peer Support, SWAT, and as a full-time police academy instructor. Matt was the Wellness Coordinator for his agency integrating sports nutrition, strength and conditioning, stress management, combatives-and-scenario training regarding officers as tactical athletes. He also was concurrently a collegiate strength coach at Yale and Georgetown Universities while a full-time police officer. Later he was a strength coach and mental skills trainer for NFL combine athletes. At Yale he volunteered for Athletes in Action and at Georgetown he created an ecumenical ministry Hoyas for Christ. Matt also has been a volunteer with Hockey Ministries International summer camps.
Matt played linebacker and was a competitive powerlifter for the Air Force Academy and Colgate University. He has an MS in Forensic Science under Dr. Henry Lee, an MS in Sport Psychology under Dr. Ken Ravizza, a MA in Pastoral Theology with a concentration in Spiritual Direction from Loyola Marymount University, and an additional spiritual direction certificate from Stillpoint. Matt focused his studies and additional immersion experiences in the contemplative traditions as well as masculine spirituality and psychology.
His ministry vision is to spend time in the trenches with officers, provide confidential peer support and spiritual direction, and facilitate a contemplative prayer group with “way of council” sharing for first responders and veterans in Los Angeles. Matt also plans to offer free wellness events integrating various aspects of fitness and martial arts, mindfulness and yoga, small group sharing, and fellowship with ribeyes on the grill. In a variety of ways, he hopes to provide platforms where first responders learn to use their unique career experiences as a spiritual path, rather than it leading to breakdown which unfortunately happens too often in these professions.
Personally, Matt is a cradle Catholic who was fascinated with exposure to other denominations when arriving at college. Through football injuries he had a deep conversion in undergrad and was drawn towards the contemplative Christian tradition, which has nourished him for over 20 years. Yet in a similar time frame, he found great fellowship and growth while serving with Evangelicals. His heart is very ecumenical, and he also always felt a calling to serve those in athletics and first responder professions who either got turned off or traumatized by religion, have no religious upbringing, or have left their church because they did not feel spiritually fed or understood. He wants to provide a safe community for them to take off their armor, share their sacred stories with others who understand, and not have to fear judgement of any kind.