One of the most important assets we have here at Brazos Valley Cares is its people, the ones who bring life to our organization and ensure that BVC can fulfill its mission to help area veterans in need.
With Memorial Day close at hand, we felt it was important to recognize all of those who help us support our veterans through the efforts of this great organization.
Dr. Carrie Elk of the Elk Institute
Among those who make Brazos Valley Cares what it is today, Dr. Carrie Elk gives endlessly to the veterans supported by BVC and we are eternally grateful for the work that she accomplishes.
June is National PTSD month and June 27 is National PTSD day, which serves to remind us all that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is suffered by many people and in particular, countless military veterans who have served in war zones.
In recognition of this debilitating disorder and the many ways that BVC strives to help veterans deal with it, we sat down with Dr. Elk to learn more about her unique and effective treatment for PTSD and how she came to be a vital part of BVC services.
A Brief Background
Practicing psychology for more than 20 years, Dr. Elk’s career has been one guided by God who put her down the path that led her to an important role helping military veterans with PTSD.
After being a caretaker to her father until his passing from cancer after which she was diagnosed with cancer a year later, her life took some very interesting turns that led to cancer surgery, a full recovery, and a new direction for her life from that point.
After beginning to work with a military counseling service, Dr. Elk found herself recognizing the number of veterans calling in with many different personal and psychological issues, most of which seemed to begin after deployment or some war-zone related trauma that led to obstacles that kept vets from getting the assistance they really needed.
The branches of the military services recognize Dr. Elk as an SME or Subject Matter Expert on PTSD and she has been treating veterans with PTSD for over 11 years.
Her specialty is in treating traumatically-stored memories using what she describes as a 'combined imaginal exposure approach' using only select aspects of the existing empirically-based methodologies in which traumatized individuals learn how to reprocess difficult memories so they can remember them without the associated trauma.
What is PTSD According to Dr. Elk?
Dr. Elk stresses that PTSD doesn't come about because the person is mentally ill or took some sort of wrong action or even worse labeled as someone who can't deal with their own mental illness.
PTSD is a natural physiological response to a threatening or traumatic situation that has been stored in memory differently and can be abruptly and painfully brought back by certain triggers.
After realizing how vital it was that there be necessary counseling services for those military vets suffering from PTSD, Dr. Elk made it her mission to ensure that veterans got this vital help free of charge, either through donations or sponsorship - and the Elk Institute was founded.
Dr. Carrie Elk and Brazos Valley Cares
Dr. Elk’s involvement with BVC is a relationship of which she is extremely proud and supportive - here is the story of how it all came about.
Dr. Elk heard from a young veteran located in the Brazos Valley who suffered from PTSD and had heard of her from a fellow soldier who knew of her invaluable work in dealing with veterans suffering from PTSD.
Through the Elk Institute in Florida, this veteran was flown there and received treatment from Dr. Elk. Towards the end of his treatment, he knew he had to return back to the Brazos Valley and speak with his employer about his battle with PTSD - and he dreaded having to do that.
Dr. Elk volunteered to come back to support him during this meeting, which she did and while in the Brazos Valley, she met his sponsoring family who had adopted him and provided a home setting for him.
This family met Dr. Elk and in their conversations, asked what made it possible for this veteran to go to Florida for desperately needed PTSD treatment, who paid for all of that because they wanted to make a contribution on his behalf.
Instead, Dr. Elk suggested that they make a contribution through BVC that could sponsor other local veterans who could benefit from her care - and this was the beginning of Dr. Elk’s ongoing relationship with BVC and her return once a year to BCS in order to work with more local veterans in need of help with PTSD.
Dr. Elk Comments About Brazos Valley Cares
Based on her own experience and personal perspective, Brazos Valley Cares in a truly unique group of caring people and friends who serve area veterans in ways that are not otherwise being provided.
She stated that everyone in BVC truly cares about local veterans, not just as many civic organizations would do but on a human level, reaching out to another person who needs a helping hand.
From her perspective, all the members of BVC put their heart, mind, and resources into helping area veterans and if any need is identified, they will drop everything and work to make it happen or find someone who can - as personified by them bringing Dr. Elk herself to the Brazos Valley where she can meet with more veterans while she is here!
Dr. Elk is also amazed at the way BVC recognizes her help with local veterans and cares about her as a person, not just as a paid professional hired to come and perform a particular service - it is a degree of caring and kindness that she seldom encounters in her work.
She shared a personal memory that really touched her and demonstrated the caring spirit of this group.
Her personal story is part of her presentation to every group and a lot of that story centers around the care she gave to her father during his end of life and how it helped guide her to the work she does today.
A particularly heartwarming story Dr. Elk shared was when one of the BVC members asked for her father's name and where he was buried in Pennsylvania, then made arrangements to have a wreath placed on his grave as a vet and had a picture sent to her of that moment so she too could share in that remembrance.
It is for this reason and more that Dr. Elk strongly supports the efforts of Brazos Valley Cares, especially now for the vets already dealing with PTSD who must also face COVID-19 restrictions that can make their home life even more troubling and unsettling.
How Can You Help Brazos Valley Cares?
Today, we are proud and thankful to have the opportunity to work with Dr. Elk and bring her once (maybe twice?) a year to help our local area veterans, all made possible by your generous contributions throughout the year.
Our major fundraiser of the year, Steak Your Support, had to be postponed in March due to newly imposed COVID-19 restrictions - but it has been rescheduled to be a virtual event on August 8, 2020 and we hope that you can join with us as we raise funds to help our local veterans for another year.
Reservations are still available and we’d love for you to join us!
Help make this a great year for Brazos Valley Cares and local veterans by joining us on August 8 or donating directly to the organization.