As an Interrogator in the US Army, Special Agent Karen Claflin Pollard understood the possibility she could be injured at the hands of an enemy combatant. But she never imagined she would be sexually assaulted by a “friend.” That assault in 1991 left Karen with a traumatic brain injury, multiple broken bones including a badly broken jaw, lacerations, contusions and post-traumatic stress. The physical injuries were life-threatening, with debilitating chronic pain that would affect her mental health and quality of life for years to come.
Karen is tough, stoic and resilient. These characteristics served her well on active duty, but not during her recovery when they only served to mask her symptoms. She had difficulty convincing her doctors to investigate her complaints, a humiliating experience. Friends and family members assumed Karen was okay until her physical and mental health declined to a point that her struggles became painfully obvious. She began having fainting episodes, sleep disturbances, and weight gain from inactivity and poor self-care habits. Over a ten-year period, she made more than 50 trips to the emergency room for a racing heart and dangerously low blood pressure. Doctors dismissed the episodes as “panic attacks.” They prescribed pills – lots of them, but none provided more than temporary relief. Karen felt so alone and isolated she contemplated suicide – not because she didn’t want to live, but because she felt she was running out of ways to escape the daily physical and emotional pain.
In 2017, Karen attended her first military retreat at Quantum Leap Farm. It’s here, she says, that she found her tribe — the people who started her on her journey to wellness. Karen says she learned how to live again practicing healthier self-care habits, being her own best health care advocate, seeking the advice of peers who were successfully navigating this same path. Knowing she was not the only one going through this turmoil, experiencing a sense of belonging, and feeling supported gave Karen the inspiration she needed to change her life. Currently, Karen finds fulfillment mentoring other Veterans attending retreats at Quantum Leap Farm.
Although participants arrive as individuals, she says they depart as a family – a tribe of people they can count on when they need help, support or encouragement to keep moving forward.
Your gifts to The Patriot Fund help Veterans like Karen transition quickly and more peacefully into society, communities and their families. Long wait times for access to help and resources lead to prolonged suffering and increased suicide rates. Your gifts enable Veteran service organizations like Quantum Leap Farm to continue operating, and increase the number of Veterans they can serve. Our sincerest thanks for supporting The Patriot Fund and its benefitting charities. Together, we’re changing lives!