March is National Social Work Month, and we at HOPE are incredibly proud to have 16 social workers on our staff in various roles with various certifications. These individuals serve our warriors by providing care in critical areas such as PTSD, mental health, and financial wellness. Since most of our staff is part of the warrior community themselves, our social workers understand the importance of continuous support and use their personal experiences to go the extra mile for our clients. In 2023 alone, our social workers spent 4,600 hours working with 1,300 unique clients!

In addition to the incredible social workers we have on staff, we have a Master of Social Work (MSW) Internship Program so we can help aspiring social workers continue to provide support for our warriors into the future. We take great pride in our MSW internship program. Throughout most of the year, we have several interns working directly with clients to provide clinical case management while developing their skills and learning about military culture. HOPE has had over 70 interns since the program launched in 2012, and in fact, 8 of the 16 social workers on our staff have completed their internship hours with HOPE!

Meet some of this amazing team and learn more about them below!

Meet our Social Workers:

Brianne SampsonShelley RodriguezJenna LaFrattaTaylor SturgillJory WatsonDanielle DiPrimaKady LukeLaura BuhrJessica HowerJessica SkousenNicole HowardMichele BrackinHaley Lewis

Brianne Sampson, MSW, LCSW, LCAS & Internship Program Lead

Brianne Sampson currently serves as the Director of Clinical Support Services and Emotional Wellness at Hope For The Warriors. Brianne obtained her Bachelor of Science in Human Services Management in 2012 and graduated with honors from East Carolina University with a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree in 2014. She originally came to HOPE as an MSW intern in 2013 and was offered full-time employment upon graduation. She worked her way up from Regional Social Worker to her current role. Brianne currently holds credentials as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in CA, PA, NC, and VA and Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist (LCAS) in North Carolina. Brianne, also, oversees the Master of Social Work Internship Program.

Brianne is married to her high school sweetheart who retired from the Marine Corps just over a year ago after 20 years of honorable service. Together they have two children, one of whom will be starting college in the fall and another in high school. Brianne holds the military and veteran community close to her heart and remains grateful she can stay connected to the community, both professionally and personally.

Shelley Rodriguez, MSW, LMSW, CFSW

 

Shelley Rodriguez is a native of Texas.  She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1997 with a BA in Psychology.  In 2016, she graduated from University of New England with a Master of Social Work degree.  Shelley holds a Financial Social Work certification and a LMSW license from the state of South Carolina.

Shelley has worked for Hope For the Warriors since 2012, when she was hired to develop and implement the “Family Reintegration Program”.  Since that time, she has worked as a Regional Social Worker and is currently the director of Clinical Case Management and Financial Wellness.

Shelley returned home to Texas when her husband retired from the Marine Corps in 2022.  Shelley is an avid Texas Longhorns fan and is thrilled to be back in Texas, close to extended family. Shelley and her husband have two adult children, one son in law, and one grandchild.

Jenna LaFratta, MSW, LMSW

Jenna LaFratta

Jenna LaFratta is a military child, gold star sister, and a licensed master social worker. Jenna feels it is one of her purposes in life to give back to the military community through volunteer work and social work. Before coming to hope Jenna was a private therapist specializing in grief, postpartum depression, and eating disorders. Not feeling like that was the right focus for her career in social work, Jenna shifted her focus to military social work. In her short time with HOPE Jenna has worked as a RSW (regional social worker). Jenna provides veterans and their families support while working with them to help with financial needs. Jenna is looking forward to growing in her role at Hope for the Warriors.

Taylor Sturgill, BSW (MSW Student)

Taylor Sturgill

Taylor Sturgill has served with Hope For The Warriors since 2017, where she began her journey as an Intake Services Coordinator. She currently serves as HOPE’s Transition and Financial Wellness Case Manager, where she provides both critical transition services and support to military members seeking to return to safe and independent driving through the Drive For Hope program. She plans to graduate from George Mason University in the spring with her Master of Social Work degree. She also holds a Bachelor of Social Work and an Associate degree in Psychology.

Taylor was born and raised in Maryland, and after spending 10 years in North Carolina, she has returned home and lives with her husband Jonathan, USMC veteran, and their children, Emma (11) and Carter (5). Taylor’s passions include supporting individuals who have experienced trauma, reading memoirs, homeschooling, and cooking nutritional and delicious meals. Taylor and her husband own a photography business, and together they work to capture life’s most precious moments.

Taylor plans to continue gathering knowledge through education and experience in hopes of providing quality intervention and advocacy for individuals who have experienced trauma.

Jory Watson, MSW, LCSW

Jory WatsonJory Watson is both a military spouse and military child. This personal connection with the military community led to Jory’s focus on military social work while completing her Master of Social Work degree with the University of Southern California. Throughout her time with HOPE Jory has worked as the Director of Intake Services and the Director of Client Engagement. Jory has returned her focus to clinical work and is currently serving as a Regional Clinical Social Worker. Jory provides clinical support services, clinical case management and MSW intern supervision. Jory is passionate about supporting the development of future social workers which has led to her work as an adjunct professor. Jory’s areas of special interest in practice include the use of mindfulness in the treatment of PTSD and trauma, psychological approaches to pain management, post traumatic growth, and the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to improve resiliency.

Danielle DiPrima, MSW, LCSWA

DANIELLE DIPRIMADanielle DiPrima is both a Marine Corps veteran and military spouse.  Danielle’s interest in social work became apparent during her time as a military policeman. Danielle obtained a Bachelor of Social Work (2020) and a Master of Social Work (2022) through Indiana Wesleyan University. Danielle completed her Master of Social Work field placement with the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Hope For The Warriors providing mental health services to both veterans and active duty servicemember’s, as well as their families. During the field placement experience, Danielle’s passion to give back to the military members only grew. Danielle became employed as a Regional Social Worker with Hope for The Warriors in November of 2022.  Danielle provides clinical support services and clinical case management, assisting in the country’s battle against veteran homelessness. Danielle’s areas of special interest in practice include the use media (music, art, etc.) in the treatment of PTSD and trauma, holistic approaches to pain management, post traumatic growth, and the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to challenge negative thought patterns.  Danielle enjoys the clinical aspect of being social worker and is currently working towards her goal of becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and obtaining her trauma professional certification.

Kady Luke, MSW, LCSWA, CFSW

Kady Luke is a native of central Pennsylvania. She graduated from Liberty University in 2016 with a BA in Psychology. In 2020, she earned her Master of Social Work degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She is currently a Licensed Clinical Social Worker Associate and holds a Financial Social Work certification.

Kady joined Hope For The Warriors in 2021 as a Regional Social Worker. Presently, she serves in a dual capacity as both the Director of Intake Services and Regional Social Worker. In addition, she supports the Warrior’s Wish Program at HOPE.

Kady currently resides in North Carolina with her husband who is an active-duty Marine and their two children, Mason and Palmer. In her free time, she enjoys reading, spending time outside, and quilting.

Laura Buhr, MSW, LCSWA

Laura BuhrLaura Buhr is originally from New Jersey (Go Eagles!). She graduated from George Mason University with a BA in International Affairs. In 2023, she graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington with a Master of Social Work degree and is currently working on her clinical social work licensure in North Carolina.

Laura is a Regional Social Worker with Hope for the Warriors. Laura believes in meeting clients where they are with compassion. She acknowledges that while clients seeking services from HOPE have a shared connection to the military community, they all have unique and independent life experiences which should be honored.

Laura lives in Wilmington, North Carolina and is married to an active-duty Marine. Laura and her husband recently welcomed their first child together, Jack, on the 248th Marine Corps Birthday.

Jessica Hower, MSW

Jessica HowerJessica Hower holds a Master of Social Work degree from University of Southern California, specializing in Adult Mental Health and Wellness and Military Social Work. Jessica has been with Hope For The Warriors since 2012 and has worked as a Regional Social Worker for the Tampa, FL area.  Jess currently serves as the Director of Program Metrics and Analytics, co-managing the organization’s customer relationship management system, Salesforce.  Jess is also a certified Recovery Care Coordinator, certified Salesforce Administrator and Reiki Master. Additionally, Jess has more than 25 years’ experience as a military spouse.

Jessica Skousen, MSW

Jessica SkousenJessica Skousen graduated with her Master of Social Work in May 2022 from the University of Tennessee, completing the trauma treatment certificate during her studies. After completing a year-long internship with HOPE during her MSW program, she has been a full-time employee at Hope For The Warriors since May of 2023, starting out as one of our Intake Services Coordinators before transitioning to the role of Donor Relations Coordinator on our Development Team. As a military spouse and family member, Jessica is passionate about assisting both veterans and military spouses in need. In her previous role as Intake Services Coordinator, she was able to direct clients towards the best resources to suit their current needs and now as Donor Relations Coordinator, she is able to further our mission by helping connect donors to our cause and advocate for veterans on a different level, bringing her experience full circle.

Nicole Howard, MSW

Nicole HowardNicole Howard has been passionate about serving others since grade school. But, while others were outside playing, she was inside designing her future counseling office. Nicole spent her high school years volunteering to further that passion within her community and at her school. Since then, she has served her community in various roles before coming to HOPE 6 years ago as an Intake Service Coordinator. In those 6 years, she earned her bachelor’s degree and Master of Social Work and currently serves our team as our Lead Intake Services Coordinator. Having recently completed her MSW this year, Nicole is also completing her Financial Social Work certification and will be a certified Financial Social Worker in April!

Michele Brackin, MSW Student

Michele Brackin, a current MSW Student on track to graduate this May, started her career in the social work field about 13 years ago when she worked in child welfare. She joined the HOPE team 6 years ago when she heard about us, and our company name sparked her interest. After visiting our website and reading about our programs and services, she knew she wanted to work here. She said, “The mission and message were so beautiful and resonating; I was drawn to the belief in resilience and rebuilding.”

Michele serves on our transition team as a Career Transition Case Manager but started her time at HOPE as an Intake Service Coordinator. In this role, she served on the “front lines,” the first point of contact our clients speak with after connecting to services. She emphasizes the importance of building connections in her roles at HOPE and is honored to work with our clients and the military community. Today, she cultivates those connections by helping clients pursue their professional endeavors and build networks.

Michele shares, “My clients continue to inspire me daily. Some have faced incredible barriers, yet they remain hopeful and determined. The difficulties that sometimes come with transitioning from military service to civilian life have not slowed them down. They keep going. For me, it puts things into perspective.”

Haley Lewis, BSW

Haley Lewis, BSW, has served as one of HOPE’s Intakes Services Coordinators since 2021, working with our clients on the front lines after they connect to services through the application on our website. Each day, Haley and the team of Intakes Coordinators connect with dozens of individuals personally, hearing their stories and offering them solutions and next steps on how to access what they need. On average, the Intakes team works 300-400 intakes per month.

In her role, Haley is inspired by her team’s dedication to serving our country’s veterans, service members, and families and the perseverance and dedication of our clients as they seek help. She shares, “Some days, all our clients need is to speak with someone and share their stories. Their stories and determination are what drive me each day.”