In the short few weeks I’ve worked with Kristin, I’ve experienced some profound moments towards my healing. I find her approach and experience with the SEAL culture unique and far more effective than the past psychotherapists I’ve seen. In the past four years, I’ve seen four separate therapists, and Kristin is the first one I feel is getting to the root of my challenges.
Why four therapist? SEALs are a special case. I don’t mean this in an arrogant way, but the Naval Special Warfare community selects, trains, and exposes its members to unique and extreme conditions in order to prepare the individual for the rigors of combat in the harshest environments. This exposure in controlled training scenarios has a direct correlation to the overwhelming success most SEAL organizations have on the battlefield. Even in training, stress is high and the risk of severe injury or death is a daily reality. But the rigors of combat training, combat itself, and loss of friends in this country’s longest war takes its toll. So it makes sense that uniquely qualified therapists will have the most impact healing this cohort of special warriors.
SEALs are just as human as everyone else and suffer trauma like everyone else. They are people with extraordinary experiences, who when leaving the military are now offered a medical system designed for people with everyday problems, stressors, and illnesses. Finding “elite” clinicians at the top of their field in trauma, TBI, PTSD, depression, and anxiety are not always readily available “in the system”. We are not like elite athletes who may have also suffered from extreme injury, but have a lot of money or high-value networks to seek and find the best therapies. The reality is that most of our heroes are financially struggling to find rewarding work in a world where it’s hard to translate “SEAL” into the corporate hierarchy and lexicon. Most of us have families, so we can’t afford to fail and don’t have the time to cull through multiple therapists to find one who “gets it”. I believe strongly that most SEALs (post-military) still have something valuable to contribute to organizations and communities, but are struggling. I can’t express stronger the need for maximally effective therapists and therapies to get to the root of the problem and allow these men to live full lives and be productive again.
I’ve found after leaving the military, finding expert clinicians in the VA or Tricare systems is a difficult maze of trial and error. Having been through multiple therapists only left me tired, depressed, and more cynical. No closer to true healing. This is until I was referred to Kristin by a close friend (and former special operator) who I knew understood my challenges.
In a few sessions, I realized Kristin is different. Her experience with the SEAL culture opened up a level of understanding and trust that I have not found too often. Her deeply empathetic approach, has allowed me to go deeper into my own stabbing pain, with new hope I will come back out and things can be healed. Having been a career SEAL for 25yrs, combat veteran, and a survivor of early childhood trauma, I finally feel like I am making progress and not stuck in a perpetual loop of open-ended therapy.
And yet Kristin like many good therapists steer away from Tricare due to the bureaucratic red tape to simply get paid. I’ve had multiple therapists for myself and my family tell me they no longer take Tricare, leaving me to either struggle to pay out of pocket for good care, or go back in the Tricare system and hope for the best. This is absolutely unacceptable for psychotherapy where the consequences of this bait and switch can be life or death.
Speaking from my experience, Kristin’s work is having profound impact towards my healing. I understand it takes a lot of donated resources so she can continue this life-saving work. “Life-saving” is not being over dramatic. In 2018, I hit rock bottom. I was leaving the military. The past decade of war destroyed my family. I was getting divorced, and faced financial uncertainty. The only thing preventing me from suicide was thinking how my death would crush my two teenage daughters. So I didn’t. Instead, I’ve been white-knuckling being a single dad, being hired and fired in the corporate world, and struggling daily to find purpose. Kristin is my third therapist since 2018, and finally one I feel will help me move through the daily effects of trauma, depression, and anxiety while I work to build a life worth living. This is my story, and I am one, but I know there are many like me.
I realize that Kristin is able to do her work with SEALs because of the generous donations from people who care about our warriors. I can’t thank you enough who give generously to keep her life-saving work moving forward. I thank you deeply, deeper than you’ll ever know, not only for me, but for my daughters.