Dr. Brad Evans MS ’02, PsyD ’05 is owner of Pathfinders Counseling and Consulting, a mental health practice serving veterans and their families in Texas. He has served in the U.S. Army, Air Force, and Army Reserves.
Tell us a bit about your military service.
I started off as an enlisted Army soldier in special operations. After completing my first enlistment and obtaining a background in basic psychology, I was convinced I wanted to formally study psychology. During my time at Pacific University, Sept. 11 happened, and I decided I wanted to return to active duty. I was accepted to Wilford Hall Medical Center (an Air Force internship) and was commissioned as an officer in the USAF. I spent four more years on active duty with the Air Force before going to work for Department of the Army as a civilian psychologist. I returned to the Army Reserves as an officer and psychologist in 2011, which allowed me to purse my civilian aspirations while continuing to serve in the military part-time.
Why did you establish a practice devoted to serving military, veterans and families?
After spending years working with active duty and veterans, I knew that my passion was with this population. This is a group of people that is as diverse as any you could imagine, and the hardships endured not only by our military personnel but their families is immense. When I opened my clinic in 2012 I knew I had made the right decision. Less than four years later, we have experienced an 1,100 percent growth in providers. We now provide services to thousands of active duty, veterans, and their families across two large areas of Texas each year.
What are the most critical needs you see?
They need more providers and, particularly, more providers with some background or understanding of military personnel. This is a tight-knight group with very unique experiences who don’t open up easily. Sharing a common background certainly helps with this. I would also say that despite the number of veteran-centric organizations that exist, we need more outreach, more specific training of providers to adequately care for them, and more understanding of the unique needs of veterans.
In your view, how can others help support active duty military, veterans and families?
One of the best and most helpful things that others can do to support active duty military, veterans, and their families is simply to acknowledge them. We are on the downslope of the longest war in American history, and many have already forgotten that we still have troops in harms way in both Afghanistan and Iraq (yes, also in Iraq) and numerous other locations, even if not involved in war as it is commonly defined. Remembering these brave men and women can be as simple as taking a few seconds out of our day to remind ourselves that they exist. If people are inclined to do more, perhaps they can get involved with veteran service organizations. You can write “any soldier” letters. Most importantly, we can appreciate the willingness of the soldier, sailor, Marine or airman to serve, regardless of our own personal views on war or military activity.