banner image

New Video Helps Veterans Navigate Difficult Path to Mental Health Care

November 10, 2021

CONTACT  Catherine Herman

518-527-8215 |


New Video Helps Veterans Navigate Difficult Path to Mental Health Care

Renowned PTSD Expert, Combat Veteran, and Daughter of a

Multi-tour Special Forces Vet Share Their Experience and Offer Advice

November 10, 2021- Palo Alto, CA - According to the Veteran’s Administration approximately 22 veterans die by suicide every day.  And less than 50 percent of returning Veterans in need of mental health care receive treatment.  Families and loved ones of military veterans can benefit from a new online video that features renowned PTSD expert Dr. Josef Ruzek, combat veteran and clinical psychologist Kristen Vescera, and Ashlynn Steinbaugh, the daughter of a special forces Veteran whose family worked tirelessly to obtain needed mental health care. In this compelling video, they share their personal experiences, discuss issues surrounding Veterans and mental health and how to navigate getting mental health care for Veterans and their families.

This virtual panel discussion is produced by Palo Alto University, which is dedicated to the fields of psychology and counseling. It is available free online at .

Topics addressed include:

  • Obstacles to seeking mental health care 
  • How to approach a reluctant Veteran who needs care
  • What to expect from treatment
  • How families and friends can support Veterans during the treatment process
  • Identifying resources for families and Veterans

About the panelists

Josef Ruzek, PhD, is a clinical psychologist specializing in treatment of post-traumatic stress problems. He is a founding director of the Early Intervention Clinic, a research clinic of Palo Alto University which provides counseling services to individuals who have experienced a recent traumatic event. He served as Director of the Dissemination and Training Division of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD and is coeditor of two editions of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies for Trauma, and a contributing author for the National Center for PTSD’s Iraq War Clinician Guide. He is also a co-editor of Caring for Veterans with Deployment-Related Stress Disorders: Iraq, Afghanistan, and Beyond, published by the American Psychological Association. 

Kristen Vescera, PhD, is an Operation Enduring Freedom Combat Veteran and spent 10 years enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve. She received her PhD in clinical psychology at Palo Alto University in 2021 where she studied resilience factors for Service Member and Veteran mental health. She earned her master’s degree in Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, concentrating on public mental health communication and education and holds a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and Counselor Education from the University of Colorado Denver. She is currently working at the VA's Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention in Canandaigua, NY as a Health Systems Specialist focusing on developing, disseminating, and evaluating national training and education programs aimed at preventing and reducing Veteran suicide.

Ashlynn Steinbaugh, BS, is the daughter of a retired Army Special Forces medic with 13 combat tours. Ashlynn grew up in a military community where she was connected to other children and families that had one or both parents in the military. She is an active participant of nonprofit organizations for Veterans in California and Oregon where she volunteers her time working at Veteran events. She is currently a second year in the Ph.D. Clinical Psychology program at Palo Alto University, where she is studying neuropsychology.

About Palo Alto University

Palo Alto University (PAU), a private, non-profit university located in the heart of Northern California’s Silicon Valley, is dedicated to addressing pressing and emerging issues in the fields of psychology and counseling to equitably meet the needs of today’s diverse communities. PAU offers undergraduate and graduate programs with online, hybrid and residential options. An engaged faculty, who make significant contributions to their fields and thrive as teachers and mentors, prepare practitioners, researchers and leaders through rigorous educational programs, research and extensive hands-on clinical practice opportunities. When you put all of this together, PAU creates a legacy of confident, competent, and compassionate professionals who are at the forefront of psychology and counseling and make a difference every day in the lives of others.


PAU was founded in 1975 as the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology (PGSP), an independent, professional school and re-incorporated as Palo Alto University in August 2009. Continuously accredited since 1986 by WASC, PAU’s doctoral programs are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) and its master’s in counseling programs by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP).