Originally from North Carolina, Kristie Combs attended Appalachian State University where she graduated with a Bachelor’s in social work in 2013. During her junior year, Combs was assigned to select a population on which she had little knowledge and spend a full semester researching problems, strengths, interventions, and treatment plans. She chose the military population after witnessing two family members go through a divorce when their husbands returned from combat showing severe symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
With little knowledge about the military, Combs assumed that the only problem service members and veterans experienced was PTSD. However, through research she learned about other issues that prevail in this population: high number of suicides, homelessness, substance abuse and lack of resources for returning National Guard and Reservist. Combs recognized that these issues needed to be addressed on a larger scale, so she moved to Washington, DC for an independent study opportunity in Congress to learn about the legislation and bills being created to support service members and veterans. She recognized the need for mental health professionals in the Department of Veteran Affair’s Health System and decided to pursue a Master’s in social work.
Combs was accepted to the Master of Social Work Program at the University of Southern California – the only university offering a sub-concentration in military social work. While completing her degree at USC, she worked as a case manager at the Hawley Veterans Services Center. During this time, she provided clinical case management, one-on-one therapy, community outreach and facilitated weekly stress management classes.
At PsychArmor Institute, Combs is pursuing her passion to educate civilians about military and veteran issues and provide them with the resources to confidently help EVERY service member and veteran.