Why we're focusing on trauma



By Bill Krugler President, JobsWork MKE


Imagine… seeing a family member shot and killed… being threatened at gunpoint… witnessing domestic violence in your home.


Tragically, this is reality for the people we serve at JobsWork MKE. 100% have been traumatized, with approximately 50% continuing to suffer from PTSD -- a higher percentage than even combat veterans.


We used to think the biggest barriers for our Members were in their present lives: transportation, childcare, addiction. We’ve learned many of these issues stem from earlier trauma, which has severe impact unless treated.


Trauma victims are more likely to be depressed, abuse substances, and contemplate suicide. As a result, they struggle to get, and keep, jobs. That’s why we at JobsWork MKE are increasing our focus on trauma-informed care.


Trauma is not new to us. For years, we have been working with a trauma expert, who speaks to incoming Members at our introductory workshops. That’s having a positive impact. As you’ll read in our success stories, we are helping some Members transform their lives. For the first time, many are recognizing the trauma they have experienced, and the damage it has done. As one Member put it, “There were a lot of things mentally I didn't really know about myself that I learned.”


But we must go deeper. We must do more to help Members understand and manage their trauma so they can achieve their long-term employment goals. We are currently working with mental health experts to develop our expanded trauma plan. We are exploring adding trauma specialists, more trauma-informed activities, a network of clinicians, and related services.


We believe this increased, intensive focus will yield even better results. More Members will be mentally healthy enough to get and keep jobs. More Members will break the cycle of poverty through sustainable, long-term employment -- and transform their lives.