USF Sarasota-Manatee graduate Kendra Simpkins is on a mission to help relieve veterans of the stress and trauma in their lives

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USFSM Spotlight: Kendra Simpkins
 
SARASOTA, Fla. (Oct. 28, 2019) – USF Sarasota-Manatee graduate Kendra Simpkins is on a mission to help relieve veterans of the stress and trauma in their lives.

“Sometimes their experience is related to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), but other times it’s connected to past trauma or a more current traumatic incident,” says Simpkins, 37, who graduated USFSM with a psychology degree in 2014. “Regardless, I want them to know that there’s help for them.”

An Army veteran and a successful clinical therapist in Sarasota, Simpkins founded the nonprofit Operation Warrior Resolution after enduring her own service-related trauma.

Unable to get the treatment she wanted from the Veterans Administration after her discharge, she turned to knowledgeable therapists and alternative treatments, including yoga. She also enrolled as a psychology student at USF Sarasota-Manatee, where she was embraced by fellow student veterans.

“I just don’t know where I would be without them,” she said.

Simpkins graduated with honors and went on to earn a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University in New York in 2016.

She now works in private practice, focusing on a treatment called Rapid Resolution Therapy (RRT). RRT helps sufferers move past traumatic episodes by focusing on the root problem and replacing troubling behaviors and emotions with positive, healthy ones.

“Rapid Resolution Therapy neutralizes the memory of a traumatic incident so that there’s no longer a physical and emotional reaction to the event,” Simpkins said.

Once on her feet, she resolved to help other vets, which led to the formation of Operation Warrior Resolution with her partner, Ryan Praefke, in January 2018.

Since then, Simpkins has helped dozens of vets both in private and group settings using RRT techniques and alternative treatments, including yoga, equine therapy, acupuncture, deep body massage and nutritional guidance. All of the treatments are provided at no cost to the veterans, who are evenly divided between men and women.

“Too often in therapy programs, the patient is made to fit a particular treatment instead of the other way around,” said Simpkins, who also holds weekend retreats near the beach for intensive sessions. “Our program focuses the individual and introduces treatments specific to that person.”

Because of her own military background, Simpkins says she understands how veterans view PTSD and manage emotional challenges like survivor’s guilt and depression. Through RRT, she’s helping them process memories of traumatic episodes differently, so they no longer produce the same emotional response. Simpkins also volunteers for the Wounded Warrior Project.

“We’re dedicated to this because we really believe in what we’re doing,” she said, referring to herself and her team, which includes four other mental health professionals. “There’s a deep sense of appreciation and honor for providing somebody with a sense of peace and hope again. As for me, I see this as a way to continue to serve.”

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About USF Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM)
USF Sarasota-Manatee is a regional campus of the University of South Florida system, offering the prestige of a nationally ranked research university with the convenience of a hometown location, including classes in Manatee and Sarasota counties and online. USFSM is ideal for those interested in pursuing a baccalaureate or master’s degree, professional certification, or continuing education credit in a small, personal setting with distinguished faculty and a dynamic curriculum of more than 40 academic programs. Website: www.usfsm.edu.
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