Yolanda Poullard looked back on her time in the Army and realized she missed using her leadership skills. While serving, she led more than 150 soldiers on a communications team. They helped connect units around Iraq. But after leaving the military, Yolanda struggled to find that new chance to guide others. Now, she may help lead veterans to the mental health care many need.
It is estimated more than 600,000 veterans live with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The challenges associated with repeatedly reliving traumatic experiences can be crippling to anyone. For veterans, this can make the transition to civilian life even more daunting.
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) created Warrior Care Network® to provide lifesaving clinical mental health care for veterans managing PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and combat stress. WWP partnered with four top academic medical centers to create Warrior Care Network, then included VA in the process to ensure veterans can seamlessly transition into and out of treatment.
Warrior Care Network has been a life-changing experience for Yolanda. She lives with the invisible wounds of war.
“These are the wounds that don’t break the skin; they are hard to reach, hard to treat, and hard to heal,” she said. “These are the wounds that wake you up at night in a sweat, that leave you feeling helpless and alone. These are the wounds that don’t break the skin, but break the heart, spirit, and mind of a soldier.”
A heavy load for anyone to cope with. For Yolanda, it impacted her life at home. “My life was full of depression and sadness,” she said. “You come back from the war, you’re a totally different person. I just couldn’t function. I needed someone to help drive, cook, sleep, help me raise my daughter. I wouldn’t do anything.”
She said she tried numerous ways to address her PTSD. “I tried so many programs, and I wasn’t getting anywhere. I still felt the same.”
Yolanda thought nothing would help. “I guess this is how I would have to live the rest of my life.”
She eventually listened to the suggestion to try Warrior Care Network. She said she started to notice a change as soon as the evaluation process started. The clinical treatment provided by Warrior Care Network partner Operation Mend helped Yolanda carefully relive her traumas to find effective ways to cope with each issue. Cognitive treatment retrained the brain, while mindfulness efforts helped Yolanda address stress in her life.
“After my treatment, it brought brightness back into my home, and we could all function as a family.”
Yolanda also appreciated how Warrior Care Network stayed with her when she returned home. Clinicians used monthly calls to provide follow-up care with Yolanda. She also had new knowledge to use every day. “When I came home, it’s like ‘how do I live?’ Warrior Care Network provided the tools and skills to help me. It is really what took me out of this dark hole and gave me my life back.”
Yolanda immediately used those skills she brought back with her to help as her whole family dealt with tragedy. Her nephew died after being stabbed. “It was like the pieces were shattered all over the floor for me. No one in my family was prepared for that or did counseling. Through what I learned at Warrior Care Network, I was able to pick my family up, encourage them to get help, and continue on.”
The three weeks Yolanda spent at Warrior Care Network were life-changing, for her and her family. “I can honestly say Warrior Care Network helped me learn life skills to handle my invisible wounds. Now I am volunteering. I started a program at my church to help individuals with problems. I’m not a counselor, but I help them find resources."
In 2021, Yolanda completed a doctoral (Ph.D.) degree in organizational leadership. She started her degree while still in the military and thanks many of her fellow soldiers, her family, her church, and WWP support in pursuing her educational endeavors.
“After retiring from the military and dealing with my invisible wounds, I am grateful and appreciative to Wounded Warrior Project’s Warrior Care Network for helping me get my life back, which led me completing my Ph.D.," Yolanda said. "As I move to the next phase of my life, I am grateful for supportive family and friends and look forward to the next chapter.”
WWP is committed to helping wounded veterans achieve their highest ambition. When they’re ready to start their next mission, WWP stands ready to serve.
Contact: Rob Louis – Public Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org, 904.627.0432
About Wounded Warrior Project:
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers – helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.