“We are no longer a safe country,” says Reserve Officer Shreve Gould. “There is mental health trauma occurring each and every day. Terrorism is a factor in our lives. It is not if your community will be hit by terrorism but when. In today’s environment, it is critical we have competent mental health providers who treat mental health trauma.”
Recognizing how pervasive trauma is, Gould knew his passion was not limited to helping just veterans coping with PTSD. He wanted to help everyone touched by the condition. Through a chance meeting with Dr. Melinda Paige, a professional counselor and trauma researcher, Gould got his chance.
Gould, who graduated from Emory University, was working for a large corporation when he was called to active duty and deployed to Afghanistan in January 2009. He received a bronze star for his service as a major in the U.S. Army. However, when he returned home in February 2010, he noticed “great gaps in how managers understood military officers and what they brought back from deployment.”
Upon returning to work as a civilian, he soon discovered that there was little knowledge or processes to support returning veterans in the workplace. The realization that many veterans like him do not have the proper resources to return to civilian life successfully ignited his desire to help others. Gould went on to become a founding member of the Employee Resource Group within his company.
Gould used his insight as a veteran to help the corporation shape its program for other veterans returning to work. The organization made substantial progress in welcoming veterans back to the workforce. Even so, Gould believed a barrier continued to prevent the Employee Resource Group from making further progress; managers still did not understand post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Gould met Dr. Paige in 2011 on an airplane around the time she was completing her dissertation. A professional counselor who specializes in trauma, Dr. Paige believes “PTSD is a treatable medical condition and survivors of trauma can be properly treated.” Going on to found the Trauma Competency Institute, which educates counselors about core trauma knowledge and trauma-focused skills, she was able to help more trauma survivors than ever before.
From Dr. Paige, Gould learned the way to overcome the barrier preventing the Employee Resource Group from making optimal progress is by spreading awareness of PTSD and trauma counseling to other counselors.
“Dr. Paige’s work and research and training are critical to improving the overall competency of those who treat mental health trauma.”
Based in Atlanta, the Trauma Competency Institute encourages counselors to help veterans and other survivors of PTSD cope with their trauma through self-care strategies and mental health trauma training. The Institute offers training classes for counselors to learn how to treat trauma and supervises counseling sessions so that counselors can give effective treatment in practice. It also provides wellness consultations and easily-accessible information about treating trauma and PTSD.
Inspired by Dr. Paige’s work, Gould decided to support the Trauma Competency Institute with a donation. In June, he sold his Rolex watch and, with his ex-fiancé’s permission, her diamond engagement ring using the online diamond-auctioning platform Worthy. Gould hopes the gift will help spread awareness of PTSD. With increased awareness, he emphasizes, more survivors can be reached and treated, given the proper counseling, and resources.
“It was better to repurpose this watch and my ex-fiancé’s engagement ring to support Dr. Paige’s cause and serve others.”