WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – This month, 10 on Your Side continues to recognize Remarkable Women in our community.
Back in the fall, we asked for nominations from you to honor and recognize the Remarkable Women in your lives. Our panel of judges selected four finalists. One winner will go on to our national Remarkable Women celebration, hosted by our parent company, Nexstar Media.
This week’s Remarkable Woman is on a mission to serve her country, in her own way.
Healing the invisible wounds of those who’ve served is the monumental task Katie Ross has taken on.
It’s a mission that’s deeply personal to her. Ross has known the military, and the challenges that come with it, her entire life.
“I was a military brat growing up, moved all around,” Ross said. “My dad did several deployments, we were stationed overseas.”
She then married into it and saw the challenges in a different way.
“After multiple combat deployments, my husband retired after 20 years in the military,” Ross said, “but with several mild traumatic brain injuries and PTSD and my kids had to seek some therapeutic support.”
The family received Gil, a trained PTSD service dog and therapy dog, from a nonprofit. However, Ross wanted to do more.
“I saw the common challenges and the difficulty getting the right type of support,” Ross said.
Ross got her masters at Norfolk State University, then interned at the Hampton VA, working with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who had attempted suicide, and victims of military sexual trauma. She also helped form a community collaborative of service providers in Hampton Roads who are focused on helping military veterans and their families.
“If someone is struggling with their mental health or substance use, it’s not in isolation,” Ross said.
Most recently, she started working with Summit Behavioral Healthcare, focused specifically on helping veterans.
She said, “We built a framework behind it called ‘Tactical Recovery’ and it is in 18 treatment centers across the country right now, as well as 4-5 psychiatric hospitals,” Ross said.
That includes two treatment centers in in Hampton Roads, where Ross said they’ve helped more than 2,700 military community members in just two years. However, she’s not resting on that accomplishment.
“The suicide rates in this population are staggering,” Ross said. “Significantly higher than the civilian community.”
That’s why Ross, through Tactical Recovery, is teaching other providers nationwide how to specifically help military members.
“How do we identify the strengths? Lean into the strengths? Build those up and make sure that we learn over time,” Ross said. “We’re creating new programs, new resources to eventually eliminate suicide in this population.”
All of this is why her dad, James Griffaw, nominated her to be one of our Remarkable Women finalists. As a 25-year veteran of the Navy, he understands first-hand the necessity of her work.
“What she’s doing is so important to the military community, the veterans and saving lives for some of the people who’ve sacrificed so much for our nation,” Griffaw said. ” It makes us very proud to see her succeed in this way.”
Ross was truly touched by the nomination.
“I think every kid wants to make their parents proud,” Ross said. “It meant even more because he is a veteran himself.”
As she does change lives, she’s found her way of serving our country.
“There are some really amazing things that come from being part of the military community,” Ross said.
You can learn more about Tactical Recovery by clicking here. Ross and her husband also helped start a nonprofit that helps children and families impacted by war heal. Click here to learn more about the Mountain Seed Foundation.