“You can put your head in the sand, or you can fight.”
– Emily White.
Emily White is more than just a mental health counselor; she is a lifeline for the young minds of our future. Through her inspiring journey, Emily’s story reflects the power of strength, community, and the support provided by veteran nonprofits like Hope For The Warriors.
Emily starts her day early at Fred Fifer Middle School in Delaware, welcoming students and their parents with a warm smile. Her role is crucial, as she provides support and guidance to students, each facing unique challenges. Some are high-achieving academic stars, while others confront various personal obstacles.
Emily’s decision to become a therapist is rooted in her difficult upbringing. Raised by parents who struggled with addiction, she spent significant time in foster care and kinship care. During this challenging period, she says social workers played a pivotal role. “I wanted to pay it forward.”
One of the remarkable aspects of Emily’s approach is her deep understanding of the importance of physical outlets for kids, particularly those who have experienced trauma. It’s not just about sports; it’s about finding a healthy avenue to release their emotions and cope with their past. However, working with student-athletes presents unique challenges. Some grapple with high anxiety and perfectionism, leading to panic attacks. Others lack opportunities due to poverty and family issues. Emily is unwavering in her commitment to helping these young individuals find balance and the necessary resources to thrive.
One of her current endeavors involves developing an emotional wellness curriculum for student-athletes. This curriculum explores techniques like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and mental rehearsal to boost their confidence and help them cope with high-stress moments. Her ability to navigate high-stress situations is not just a product of her training but a skill she has honed throughout her life. Her journey took an unexpected turn when her husband, David, needed treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Hope For The Warriors became their lifeline, offering support during times of instability. “What sets HOPE apart is its strength-based approach,” Emily says.
HOPE awarded Emily with a Spouse and Caregiver scholarship for the fall semester, enabling her to return to school at the University of Kentucky without the stress and pressure of working her second job as often. This financial relief allows her to balance her full-time job, raise four children, maintain a private practice, and pursue a doctorate program.
HOPE’s support serves as a reminder that her husband’s service mattered, even if people don’t know the full extent of his sacrifices. It’s a testament to the far-reaching effects of organizations like HOPE and their ability to touch the lives of veterans, caregivers, and their families. “Now, more than ever, organizations like HOPE are crucial,” Emily says. She specifically mentions the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan and how many service members and veterans have been profoundly affected by the events in the region, including David, who served in the Army for nearly a decade, enduring multiple deployments. After his medical separation, they faced a new set of challenges. “Being a caregiver was tough,” Emily says. “With support and therapy, we’ve come a long way.”
For other military spouses facing similar obstacles, Emily offers this advice: “You have two options. You can put your head in the sand, or you can fight. It’s worth fighting for.”
Balancing motherhood, work, and caregiving can be incredibly challenging, but Emily encourages everyone to build their village and remember that they are not alone in this journey.
Emily’s story is a testament to the power of resilience and the profound impact of organizations like Hope For The Warriors. Together, we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of our veterans, caregivers, and their families. It’s a reminder that in the face of adversity, there is always HOPE.
Want to get involved? Click here for more information on upcoming events, and volunteer opportunities, or join our Circle of Hope to support the military community year-round.