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The CNC produces journalism on a variety of topics in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties for about a dozen media partners including newspapers, radio and television stations and magazines.

Operation Warrior Resolution helps veterans with alternative therapy

Man with a bear and woman to the right, smiling and wearing dark blue shirts
Sarah Owens
/
Community News Collaborative
Jerrod Klein and Kendra Simpkins both served in the Army before dedicating their lives to help veterans in need as they return to daily life outside the military.

The Sarasota nonprofit aims to heal Florida veterans by offering methods that don’t require reliving trauma.

A Sarasota-based nonprofit group is taking a holistic approach to treat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues.

Operation Warrior Resolution is seeing success with an alternative therapy method called brain-based healing.

While the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers more traditional, evidence-based therapy methods, the nonprofit’s CEO, Kendra Simpkins, says these often require patients to relive their trauma or bring up painful memories. She wanted to provide a different way for veterans to heal.

“That can be highly traumatizing or retriggering, and that’s what the VA does. That's just the typical treatment for trauma, to desensitize people,” said Simpkins. “As a clinical social worker, exposure therapy didn’t make sense to me, to cause more pain to get somebody out of pain. So, I’m looking to get people out of pain as quickly as possible.”

To do that, she turned to brain-based healing.

After being honorably discharged from the Army in 2010, Simpkins went on to get her master's degree in social work and became an expert in combat-related trauma, PTSD, neuroscience, military and veteran transition, global health practices, and wellness program development.

She was eventually introduced to Rapid Resolution therapy, a method that “employs innovative concepts, multi-level communication, and specialized tools to effectively address emotional disturbance and maladaptive behavior,” according to the official RRT website.

“It just seems like a conversation, but the practitioner is very intentional in the languaging and the way that we’re speaking to somebody, because just in the way you speak to people it can cause an emotional response.”
Kendra Simpkins

After becoming certified in neuroscience and trauma-informed yoga, Simpkins determined experiential treatments offer people the best chance at healing.

Brain-based healing is an experiential process, meaning the clinician facilitates and guides the session. It is interactive, creative and can include movement.

“It just seems like a conversation, but the practitioner is very intentional in the languaging and the way that we’re speaking to somebody, because just in the way you speak to people it can cause an emotional response,” said Simpkins.

“We’ll use also some techniques to get the nervous system to start to come into a space of balance, because the nervous system has to be deactivated and they have to feel in the present moment in order for the brain to begin to resolve trauma.”

Guided meditation or guided visualization is often used to deactivate the nervous system before interactive techniques and movement are implemented to actually have the brain fully process the trauma.

According to Operation Warrior Resolution’s website, the treatment, also known as the Cortina Method, “causes the brain to fully process and integrate trauma without having to re-experience or relive painful past events.” It utilizes the brain’s natural capacity to re-wire itself, and negative emotions and destructive behaviors are eliminated as the brain becomes optimized.

“With traditional talk therapy, you know, you might have a person that has about 12 points that they want to deal with and it can take them six or seven months to kind of resolve,” said Jerrod Klein, OWR’s lead trauma resolution expert. “Or, you know, contrary, they can have two or three points that take them over a year and a half to resolve the anxiety, depression, and things like that.”

With brain-based healing, Klein says it’s not uncommon to help treat people within three visits.

Chuck Eason, an Operation Warrior Resolution client, says he’s noticed a change after just one session. Eason served in the Army for 10 years and was deployed oversees multiple times. After returning home, he tried several counseling methods to treat anxiety and help with anger management.

Wanting to get back to his calm, go-with-the flow personality, Eason decided to give brain-based healing a try after a friend, a Green Beret, recommended it.

“I thought, ‘I might as well try it,’” said Eason. “It had immediate affects, and it’s still ongoing. It is pretty crazy to think you can have that big of a change that quickly.”

Eason recommends the treatment and Operation Warrior Resolution to anyone open to new methods of treatment in their healing journey.

Aside from the brain-based healing treatment, Operation Warrior Resolution offers a variety of other services meant to promote healing in veterans. These include a 90-day tactical healing program featuring a retreat and coaching sessions, combat conscious yoga, class specifically designed for veterans and their families, a couples’ retreat and more.

More information is on the Operation Warrior Resolution website.

Sarah Owens is a reporter for the Community News Collaborative. Connect with her at slowens@cncfl.org.

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