Headstrong, UCCS Veterans Health and Trauma Clinic offer expanded access for veterans

Gerard Ilaria, clinical director and co-founder, Headstrong Project, addresses a crowd of partners and staff at the UCCS Veterans and Health Trauma Clinic.

Veterans who experience what is known as the “hidden wounds of war” like anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, have a new option for treatment in a partnership between the UCCS Veterans Health and Trauma Clinic and the Headstrong Project. Veterans who enroll with Headstrong receive free, confidential and hassle-free care, and can receive the customized care with the licensed clinicians at UCCS.

“We only recruit therapists who have been doing trauma work for a considerable amount of time and who have seen almost everything,” said Gerard Ilaria, clinical director and co-founder, Headstrong Project. “We’re about good, seasoned clinical care. We’re there for five months or five years. That’s our model and that’s distinct from other mental health models nationally.”

The partnership with Headstrong allows veterans to receive mental health care with partner clinics and providers in eight cities without costs or paperwork for the veterans. The organization covers all costs with the support of private donors to receive care for as long as needed. Headstrong also manages all paperwork on behalf of the veterans.

“Headstrong and our clinic are like-minded in terms of priorities and treatment,” said Valerie Anderson, director, Veterans Health and Trauma Clinic. “Sometimes the very process of trying to get help can be so daunting and difficult for people. Having a program like this allows more members of the community who need help to get help.”

Colorado Springs has the highest concentration of veterans in Colorado. The Veterans Health and Trauma Clinic has worked with more than 1,200 clients since 2014, with 260 active clients working with 12 clinicians and four psychology graduate students. Approximately 80 percent of the clinic’s clients are active duty service members, veterans, former military and family members. The clinic also supports first responders; survivors of physical, psychological, sexual and combat trauma; UCCS student veterans transitioning to academic life; and veterans and community members with eating disorders.

The UCCS Veterans Health and Trauma Clinic has worked with Headstrong clients since summer 2017. Headstrong was founded in 2012 in partnership with Weill Cornell Medicine, the school of medicine of Cornell University, in New York City.

Veterans who are interested in the program services through the Headstrong Project can visit getheadstrong.org. For additional information on the UCCS Veterans Health and Trauma Clinic, visit uccs.edu/healthcircle.

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