From Personal Tragedy to Healing Others: Katie Travis, Grief Counselor in Warren, Transforms Pain into Purpose

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In the serene town of Warren, Pennsylvania, grief counselor Katie Travis is not just a compassionate presence; she’s a beacon of hope for those grappling with loss. In her role as the TAPS senior peer mentor coordinator and grief counselor at the Schorman Center in Hospice of Warren County, Travis transforms personal tragedy into a force for healing.

Raised in the embrace of a military family, Travis’s connection to the armed forces was established from the very beginning. Her father, an Army/Special Forces veteran, instilled in her the values of service and community. This early exposure laid the foundation for a future dedicated to supporting military families facing unique challenges.

“I decided to become a counselor with a goal of working with military kids and spouses,” Travis shared.

In 2014, tragedy struck when Travis lost her significant other to suicide. He was an active-duty Army combat medic battling PTSD. The aftermath left Travis grappling with immense grief and navigating a system that failed to recognize their relationship due to their unmarried status.

“My world imploded; nothing seemed right for a very long time, but I found a grief counselor and put in the work on my post-traumatic grief journey,” she recalled.

Despite her profound loss, Travis encountered obstacles due to the lack of official recognition of their relationship by the government.

“The government did not consider me his family, and I received no form of assistance from them,” she explained.

A Turning Point For Katie Travis

In 2018, while working for the Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center, Travis’s trajectory took a transformative turn. Introduced to the TAPS program and its women’s empowerment initiative, she found an unexpected opportunity for healing and support.

“My executive director’s wife had told them my story,” she shared. “I was working with a newly widowed Army spouse at the time, and Erin (with the women’s empowerment program) asked why I wasn’t coming up myself. They basically made my executive director allow me to take a half-day on Friday so that I could drive up to Denver for the seminar.”

From that pivotal moment, Travis dedicated herself to education, obtaining her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, while engaging in internships and fieldwork, all while working full-time.

“When things settled down for me, I decided to give back and become a peer mentor for TAPS,” she explained. “I started exploring the TAPS website after completing my volunteer application and discovered they were hiring. The rest is history.”

In February, Travis moved to Warren County, Pennsylvania, and immersed herself in researching local resources. This led her to the Schorman Center, where she now serves as a grief counselor.

“After meeting with the team, I was asked if I’d like to come on board as a grief counselor,” she said.

Travis brings over ten years of experience working with military children at Fort Carson and managing the veteran and family resource department at the Mt. Carmel Veteran Services Center. Her journey with TAPS spans nearly two years.

Katie Travis’s story exemplifies resilience, turning personal pain into a purpose-driven career dedicated to aiding others through grief. As she continues her work in Warren, she stands as a testament to the transformative power of compassion, understanding, and the unwavering commitment to helping those navigating the difficult path of loss.

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