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  • Writer's picturedsmith51678


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (May 24, 2023) — The Hazel Gray Foundation (HGF) formally accepted Virginia Department of Veteran Services (DVS) grant funds to support veteran suicide prevention efforts throughout the commonwealth May 20, 2023. HGF applied for the grant aiming to provide a trauma-focused, treatment program to Virginia’s military service members as part of HGF’s mission to support expansion of mental health care to veterans.

Desiree Smith, HGF’s chief executive officer, said the grant will be utilized to fund a pilot trauma recovery program that consists of individual and group trauma therapy to a blended cohort of active duty personnel and veteran participants. “This program is trauma specific,” said Smith, “which is often what is not addressed in traditional group therapy. The program is designed to address the core wounds versus the symptoms. When unresolved trauma is treated, many of the severe depressive episodes that lead to suicidal ideation are minimized.”

Smith, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and certified trauma specialist is also a Navy veteran and knows first-hand the many struggles that veterans face when dealing with sustained stress and trauma.

“This has been my dream since getting out of the Navy in 2008,” Smith explained. “I struggled with many aspects of arduous duty and returning to life as a civilian. My goal has always been to create a bridge between both worlds with an innovative approach that addresses the gaps in mental healthcare for the military population. I recognized the need for Virginia’s military treatment facilities and VA hospitals to have more resources for patients who present with suicidal ideation.” Smith said the pilot program will use an expanded and structured version of a proven trauma treatment called The Trauma Model created by Dr. Colin Ross, founder of the Trauma Recovery Institute in Texas.

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