You’ve served your country, now it’s our turn to serve you.
Our Road Home Program team is dedicated to supporting you and your loved ones as you face the challenges of life after deployment. We will provide you with the support and care you deserve without judgment and without an agenda. Collectively, we have helped hundreds of veterans cope with and heal from the invisible wounds of war.
We also know that when you come home from war changed and haunted, your families, friends and significant others are suffering too. Our family programs provide your loved ones with the support and help they need to thrive. We look forward to working with you and your family on your road home.
Mark Pollack, MD
Grainger Professor and Chairman,
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
“We want to make sure that veterans and the families receive the kind of care that they need and have so dearly earned and get connected to resources that they can use to take control of their health, jobs, and social and family lives.”
Mark Pollack is the chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center. Before coming to Rush, he was the director of the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital. He co-founded the Home Base Program for Veterans in Boston, which helps veterans and their families adjust to life upon returning home from deployments.
In addition to Pollack’s clinical expertise in treating post-traumatic stress, he also understands the needs of military families firsthand. His brother served in the U.S. military for 25 years, including a stint in Iraq.
Rebecca Van Horn, MD
“Our veterans have placed the protection of our collective freedom and values above their own needs. Road Home offers veterans and their families trauma-informed care to help them navigate the challenges of returning home.”
Rebecca Van Horn is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center. She completed her residency at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, working extensively with veterans at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System throughout her training. Van Horn went on to complete additional post-graduate training in geriatrics at UCLA as a Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Health Professions Scholar.
Prior to her medical training, Van Horn completed graduate work in Media Studies at UCLA and maintains strong clinical interest in the ways in which imagery shapes social perception and understanding. She is the granddaughter of two WWII veterans.
Niranjan Karnik, MD, PhD
Vice Chair of Innovation
“When a veteran returns home, they are not the only ones who have sacrificed. The children and families of veterans are also facing many challenges and need special care. The Road Home Program is unique because we will work with the entire family to support them through the process of recovery and reintegration.”
Niranjan Karnik is the Cynthia Oudejans Harris Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Section of Population Behavioral Health. He holds appointments in the Department of Community, Systems & Mental Health Nursing, Section of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and Rush Addiction Medicine Program (RAMP). Before coming to Rush, he worked at the University of Chicago and the University of California in San Francisco.
Karnik completed his residency and fellowship at Stanford University. He spent a substantial part of his residency working at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in California, where he provided care to veterans from World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars and the first Gulf War.
He has a special expertise in homelessness, substance abuse, PTSD and military sexual trauma.
Will Beiersdorf, MPA
Executive Director of the Road Home Program
“Having served in the Navy and Army, I realize the important role people play when they put on that Navy, Army, Marine, Air Force or Coast Guard uniform. They place themselves on the frontline for our freedoms. That sense of sacrifice and service has driven me to be a part of the community that supports our heroes if they get injured or suffer other challenges from their service to our country. They’ve stepped up for us, now it’s time to step up for them.”
Will Beiersdorf is a Naval Reserve and Illinois Army National Guard veteran. He served in Operations Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom. Beiersdorf founded Salute, Inc., a not-for-profit foundation focused on assisting and supporting injured military members and their families. He has been working with the military and veteran community for more than 12 years.
Beiersdorf also has an accounting degree from DePaul University and earned his master’s degree in public administration from Troy University. He has worked in public accounting and health care for more than 20 years.
Patricia Normand, MD
Director of Wellness and Integrative Health
“Our goal here at the Road Home Program is to help our veterans and their families rediscover their ability to be healthy and whole, now and into the future. I am grateful for this opportunity to honor their service and say thank you for your sacrifice for our country.”
Patricia Normand is an assistant professor in the departments of Psychiatry, Preventive Medicine and Internal Medicine at Rush University Medical Center. She helps develop the stress reduction component of behavioral lifestyle interventions for chronic diseases through the RUMC Prevention Center. In addition, she teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at Rush as well leading the weekly meditation group at the Rush Meditation Room. She also works with various departments at Rush teaching young physicians how to incorporate mindfulness into their personal and professional life.
Normand completed her psychiatric residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and trained in teaching MBSR at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare and Society where the program was developed.
Michael B. Brennan, PsyD, ABPP
“I have chosen to dedicate my career to helping those who have proudly served our country and helped protect our country’s values. I served on active duty, and I will continue to be part of programs that support military personnel, such as the Road Home, until I retire. One of my favorite quotes is from John F. Kennedy who said, ‘As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.’ His words help explain my commitment to our veterans.”
Mike Brennan is a board-certified clinical psychologist, and he has experience working within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He is also a trainer with the 7302nd Medical Training Support Battalion, U.S. Army Reserves in Madison, WI.
Brennan served five years on active duty in the United States Army. He was assigned to San Antonio Military Medical Center, and he became the first psychologist embedded within the 3d Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas. He deployed to the eastern region of Afghanistan for nine months with the Regiment and was responsible for the mental health care of more than 7,000 military personnel. While stationed at Ft. Hood, he served as a clinician, consultant, teacher and administrator for more than 4,200 soldiers, 50 Commanders and 25 medical personnel.
Sheila Dugan, MD
Director of Rush Program for Abdominal and Pelvic Health
“As a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor, also known as a physiatrist, I am an expert in diagnosing musculoskeletal and neurological problems, seen through the lens of functional problems. As the daughter of a Navy veteran and through my training at the Chicagoland VA hospitals, I have seen firsthand the acute and chronic impact to the mind, body and spirit resulting from military service for our country. My particular area of focus on pelvic wellness, including the important functioning of the pelvic floor muscles related to bowel, bladder and sexual health, provides our veterans with a comprehensive assessment that can have a profound impact on pain, pelvic floor dysfunctions and quality of life. It is my privilege to work with each and every veteran I meet.”
Sheila Dugan, M.D., is an associate professor in the Rush departments of PM&R, Preventive Medicine and Neurological Surgery. She is the Medical Director of University Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation where she sees patients with pain and functional problems related to neurological and musculoskeletal disorders. She directs the Rush Program for Abdominal and Pelvic Health. She chairs the Rush Women’s Leadership Council and serves on the ADA Committee and Diversity Leadership Committee.
Sheila has published numerous scientific manuscripts, book chapters and articles, and lectures locally and nationally. Her research interests include pelvic wellness; health equity; the health benefits of physical activity, in particular in underserved populations; and pain, function and visceral fat in women at menopause.
Sheila received her bachelor’s degrees in Biology from the University of Chicago and Physical Therapy from Northwestern University and her MD from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She did her internship at the University of Chicago in Internal Medicine and her residency at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in PM&R. Prior to coming to Rush she was on faculty at the Harvard Medical School and worked at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Jonathan Goldner, PhD
Director of Family Services
“I am proud to have joined a program committed to helping serve the men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving us and our country. The Road Home program understands the impact that veterans’ experiences have had on them and their loved ones. I appreciate the opportunity to help veterans and their families reconnect and reintegrate into civilian life.”
Jon Goldner is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center. Before coming to Rush, Goldner worked in a variety of outpatient settings with families who have experienced trauma and loss. Most recently, he worked as a supervising psychologist at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Under the Rainbow program in Chicago. In addition to providing treatment, he trained doctoral students in clinical psychology and developed an internship program for social work students. He received his doctorate degree from Loyola University Chicago, with a specialization in children and families, and his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University.
Philip Held, PhD
“I both admire and am extremely grateful for our veterans’ service. Joining the Road Home Program is my attempt at giving back to the men and women who have given their all. I feel honored to continue to closely work with our veterans and to assist them with getting back on track after they have mustered the courage to ask for help.”
Philip Held is a counseling psychologist and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center. Held is also the Research Director of the Road Home Program.
Before joining the Road Home Program, Held completed a postdoctoral fellowship, specializing in Cognitive Processing Therapy at the Center for Trauma Recovery in St. Louis, MO. Held obtained his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Tennessee, where he was part of the Military Health and Stress research group.
Held’s research interests include the treatment of PTSD and other trauma-related disorders using evidence-based treatments. Held is particularly interested in improving the effectiveness of existing treatments and the delivery of evidence-based treatments in intensive formats. Held also conducts research in the area of moral injury.
Neeral Sheth, DO, FAPA
Associate Medical Director
“It truly is an honor to serve veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms. At Road Home we strive to provide holistic and individualized care based on the individual’s personal preferences and needs. My role is to provide treatment that improves quality of life and helps clients fulfill their goals. Sometimes that is with the help of medications and sometimes not. I’m here to help our veterans and their families find out what is right for them.”
Neeral Sheth is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Northwestern University and his Medical Degree from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his psychiatry residency at Rush University Medical Center, serving as chief resident during his final year. His clinical interests center around PTSD, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and addiction medicine. In addition, other interests include cognitive behavioral therapy, cultural psychiatry, LGBTQ health, and medical education.
Lynne Bergero, MHSA
“Being from a family with five veterans over four generations (my grandfather and father, brothers and nephew served in the Army, Marines and Navy), I’m inspired to help veterans and their families move forward on their journey of healing and wholeness.”
Ms. Bergero most recently served for over 15 years as a Project Director at The Joint Commission. In this capacity, she was primarily responsible for research and development of accreditation standards for Emergency Management and Patient Rights in the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation. She also supervised operations teams in managed care organizations, and was a health educator for a statewide health care foundation. Ms. Bergero received her Master of Health Services Administration degree from the University of Michigan-School of Public Health, and completed her Bachelor of Science in Education degree at Northwestern University. Ms. Bergero is a certified Green Belt with training in Lean Six Sigma processes, and a volunteer with the Chicago Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
Thad Rydberg, MA, LCPC
Social Work Services Manager
“Our country’s service members and families are one of the most valued groups in our society. Their committed duty to our country to keep us safe is immeasurable. I am honored to be part of the community to serve veterans and their families as they transition back to their lives as civilians.”
Thad Rydberg has worked with people affected by war trauma for over 18 years in the USA, Spain, Southern Sudan and Kenya with grassroots and international organizations. He worked with the United Nations – Operations Lifeline Sudan while in Southern Sudan and Kenya. He is trained in several intervention strategies such as Prolonged Exposure Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Harm Reduction Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. He has particular interests in cultural reintegration and resiliency.
He is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and a member of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.
Jennifer Coleman, PhD
“The sacrifice given by service members and veterans may never be truly repaid, but we can start by providing them with the best mental health care psychology has to offer. As a psychologist who has worked with veterans and their family members at various VA Hospitals, at a Veteran’s Benefit Clinic and now at the Road Home Program, I have felt honored to serve this community.”
Jennifer Coleman is a clinical psychologist at the Road Home Program and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Rush University Medical Center. She has worked at RHP since 2017. She earned a Master’s of Science and Ph.D. from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, in addition to a Master’s of Arts in Mental Health Counseling from Boston College in MA. She has been working with service members, veterans, and their family since 2013. She specializes in providing evidence-based therapies for individuals with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, in addition to researching health disparities in the veteran community. Dr. Coleman is the proud grand-daughter of two veterans.
Tom Cothran, PhD
“It is a special honor and privilege to work with veterans and to have the opportunity to provide a quality service to an unquestionably deserving community. I am passionate about the functioning of the human brain and understanding how challenges faced by our veterans related to PTSD, mild traumatic brain injury, chronic pain, and other issues can interfere with cognitive effectiveness. My goal is to understand how someone’s thinking and memory abilities function in the context of their life and to provide practical recommendations and strategies for success.”
Tom is a postdoctoral fellow in a two-year neuropsychology fellowship program at Rush University Medical Center. He has dual appointments in the Department of Psychiatry, Road Home Program and in the Department of Behavioral Sciences. He earned his bachelor’s degree at University of Southern Maine and his doctorate at Illinois Institute of Technology in the clinical psychology program, rehabilitation psychology specialization track.
Tom completed his pre-doctoral internship in the Neuropsychology track at RUMC. He has extensive training in the assessment of adolescents, adults, and seniors in outpatient and inpatient medical settings with various cognitive, neurological, and emotional disorders (e.g., PTSD, traumatic brain injury, depression, anxiety, ADHD, stroke, dementia, substance abuse and alcoholism, and co-occurring medical conditions). He has a particular interest in comorbid mild TBI and PTSD and cognitive rehabilitation. Both of Tom’s grandfathers served in the United States Army. His maternal grandfather served in World War II and his paternal grandfather served in the Vietnam War.
Rebecca Durkin, MD
“The challenges that face veterans and their families are unique from the general population. It is important that they have a program dedicated specifically to meeting their needs. I am honored to work at the Road Home Program and see it as one way that I can give back to those who have served.”
Rebecca Durkin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center. She received her medical degree from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and completed her psychiatry residency at Rush University Medical Center. She has a special interest in working with patients with treatment resistant mood disorders. She is the proud wife of an Army veteran who served in Iraq.
Jennifer Edidin, PhD
“The Road Home Program serves the whole family, because the children and families of veterans may also experience challenges and benefit from support. I appreciate the opportunity to help parents better understand their child’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as to help them develop a plan to meet their child’s unique needs.”
Jennifer Edidin is a child psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center, with a specialization in pediatric neuropsychology. She has worked in various settings with children, adolescents, emerging adults, and their families.
Before coming to Rush, Edidin received her bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College and her doctorate from Loyola University Chicago, with a focus in children and families. She completed her internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago. During her fellowship, she worked extensively with homeless youth. Edidin has particular interests in the development of executive functioning, psychosocial development, and neurodevelopmental disabilities.
Oluwatoyin O. Hines, MA, MS, MEd, PhD, LCPC, NCC
Clinical Professional Counselor
“I am passionate about assisting veterans, veterans’ families and veteran communities in their processes of transition, growth, resiliency and wellness. Being a member of the team at the Road Home Program enables me to continually support and engage the community of veterans and their families.”
Oluwatoyin Hines is a licensed professional counselor. She has more than 21 years of military service and currently serves in the Illinois National Guard as a Chaplain. As Brigade Chaplain, Hines provides supervision to the Brigade Unit Ministry Teams; advises Command on religious support, morale and ethics; offers guidance in strategic operations and religious support planning; conduct religious services and provides pastoral counseling support.
Raushanah Jackson, MS, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
“As the daughter, sister and spouse of veterans, I feel passionate about serving veterans and their families to address the struggles that occur in the individual, family and couple context. Given the sacrifices veterans and their families have made, each person deserves the very best that we can give them at the Road Home Program. I am honored to be a part of the team that serves this community.”
Raushanah Jackson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a Master of Science degree in Counseling. Before coming to The Road Home Program at Rush, Ms. Jackson has worked in a variety of contexts, as a school psychologist, and as a mental health professional serving children and adolescents in schools, residential treatment, outpatient, and private practice. Ms. Jackson has also provided early intervention services, as well as individual, family and couple counseling services in the Marine and Family Programs at Camp Pendleton. Ms. Jackson received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology at Ball State University and her Master of Science degree in Clinical Counseling at California State University – Hayward.
Brian Klassen, PhD
“Many veterans have witnessed moments of real human connection and camaraderie alongside moments of abject terror –literally, the best and worst of the human experience. Often, veterans who want to talk about these experiences with others find that they are judged, misunderstood or simply ignored. It is for this reason that I strive to listen carefully and understand each veteran’s individual experience. For more than a decade, conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Global War on Terror have placed heavy burdens on service members and their families, and they have responded with honor and integrity. Now, it is time we respond to their challenges with the best we have.”
Brian Klassen is a clinical psychologist and faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center. Brian spent his formative years training at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, completing rotations in chronic pain management, residential substance use disorder treatment, and PTSD. Brian has special expertise in providing front-line treatments for PTSD, including Prolonged Exposure and Cognitive Processing Therapy. In addition to outpatient assessment and psychotherapy, Brian has been especially involved in planning and providing services for the Road Home’s Intensive Outpatient Program.
Brian earned his doctorate at Wayne State University and his bachelors at Calvin College. Brian’s scholarly work has been recognized by the American Psychological Association and the National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Ashton Lofgreen, PhD
“The veterans I’ve worked with have taught me the value of community, the meaning of sacrifice, and the resilience of the human spirit. It has been an honor to bear witness to each veteran’s unique journey of recovery. I am grateful to continue working with and learning from veterans and their families as part of the team at Road Home.”
Ashton Lofgreen is a Clinical Psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center.
Before joining the Road Home Program, Lofgreen completed her internship at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital and her postdoctoral fellowship at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.
Lofgreen has specialized training in evidence-based therapies for PTSD. She has a particular interest in treatment of the emotional and relational aftermath of interpersonal traumas, such as military sexual trauma. Her training has also prepared her for work with a variety of the complex challenges that vets often face upon returning home, including chronic pain, substance use disorders, and moral injury.
Lofgreen received her doctorate from Auburn University and her bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University.
Lindsey Matt, PhD
“Fred Rogers said ‘Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable.’ I am grateful to work at the Road Home Program, and am privileged to have the opportunity to listen nonjudgmentally to veterans as they share their ‘mentionable’ events as part of their journey home.”
Lindsey Matt is a postdoctoral fellow at the Road Home Program. She completed her graduate education at Kent State University in Ohio. Before coming to Rush, she completed her clinical internship at the Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center where she provided evidence-based treatments to veterans who experienced complex trauma including military sexual assault and combat.
She also worked with individuals with comorbid substance concerns. Lindsey’s interests are in assessing and improving emotion dysregulation, especially in those who have experienced interpersonal trauma.
She is the proud niece and granddaughter of multiple marine and navy veterans.
Patricia McDaniel, MSW, LCSW
Clinical Social Worker
“Before I retired from the Army, I knew that my next career would be helping others who have served in uniform and who suffer from PTSD. Now, I am honored to be a member of the passionate and dedicated helping community of the Road Home Program as I compassionately assist my fellow veterans and service members along their path to wellness and reintegration.”
Patricia McDaniel is a Gulf War veteran who retired from the U.S. Army as a master sergeant conducting database management at the Pentagon. She utilized her veteran’s benefits and graduated summa cum laude from the Catholic University of America with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. There, she was a member of the Anxiety, Mindfulness, and Psychotherapy Integration Research lab. She then earned her master’s degree in social work from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago where she focused on learning cognitive behavioral therapies.
McDaniel is a licensed clinical social worker and a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, the National Association of Social Workers, and the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Tim Murakami, MSW, LCSW
Clinical Social Worker
“I consider it an immense privilege to accompany veterans here at the Road Home Program along their path of recovery and growth. In my work with clients, I strive to embody a spirit of humility and respect for the uniqueness of each veteran’s story, and a confidence in each individual’s capacity to live a meaningful life in line with their deepest values. Working with clients who have experienced trauma requires a holistic, team-based approach, and I am grateful for the opportunity to support veterans as part of the committed, passionate and skillful team here at the Road Home Program.”
Prior to joining the Road Home Program, Tim Murakami worked as a substance use counselor at a Chicago-based community mental health agency serving diverse populations through trauma-informed and mindfulness-based interventions. Past experience also includes outpatient mental health counseling, clinical case management for participants in the Cook County Mental Health Court Program, and over five years as a manager for a transitional employment program serving individuals facing barriers to employment. Murakami has a particular interest in the intersection of trauma and mindfulness-based therapies, and has received specialized training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy and other contextual behavioral interventions. He is also trained in Motivational Interviewing and Harm Reduction Psychotherapy.
Murakami received his Master of Arts in social work from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from North Park University.
Megan O’Rourke, LCSW
Clinical Social Worker
“Over time, we may find that the patterns we’ve developed to survive our most painful experiences are now getting in the way of the life we want to live. It takes immense strength to survive traumatic experiences, and immense courage to invite someone to join you as you consider the way forward. It’s a great honor to bear witness to the courage of the men, women and children whose lives have been impacted by service to our country.”
Before joining the Road Home program, Megan worked with children, adolescents, and families impacted by intergenerational complex trauma in the educational and child welfare systems. Her training has prepared her to support clients in addressing challenges resulting from exposure to trauma, including substance use disorders, relational difficulties, and negative self-perception. Megan strives to empower clients to recognize the resiliency that has sustained them, while building on intrinsic strengths to move towards fulfillment. Megan received her bachelors’ degree in Public Policy and master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan. She is the proud niece and granddaughter of multiple Army, Navy, and Air Force veterans.
Ebony Robinson, BSN, MPH
RN Clinical Coordinator
“I am truly honored to be working with our veterans and their families who have put their lives at stake for us. For those reasons, they deserve the upmost care and support during their transition to civilian life.”
Ebony received her BSN from Saint Xavier University and her MPH from Kaplan University. She is currently working for her DNP from Rush University.
Ebony worked at Ingalls Memorial Hospital for 5 years. She has been a Community Health Nurse for 3 years at Rush University and a RN Clinical Coordinator for 1 year at the Road Home Program.
Kevin Russell, MA, LCPC
Clinical Professional Counselor
“I have learned so much from each and every veteran and family member I have worked with over the years. I have been truly inspired by the stories of courage from our returning Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans and our Vietnam combat veterans. I feel honored to be trusted with something so personal.”
Kevin Russell is the son of a Korean War veteran and grandson of a WWII veteran. Russell has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Roosevelt University.
Russell has 27 years of experience in the mental health field and is a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC). He was the past director of mental health services at Pioneer Center for Human Services located in the northwest suburbs.
For the last three years, Russell has been managing the Veterans and Family Services Resource Center at TLS Veterans. He was also an active member of the McHenry County Suicide Task Force and a board member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Mark Schimmelpfennig, MDiv
Chaplain, Spiritual Care
“As a veteran who has also traveled on my own road home, I am truly blessed and privileged to be able to provide spiritual care to our veterans and families towards the goals of trauma recovery and moral injury repair.”
Mark Schimmelpfennig is the Staff Chaplain at the Road Home Program. He provides spiritual care and counseling, specializing in PTSD and trauma recovery, as well as moral injury repair to the veterans and families in all of our programs.
Mark received his Masters of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, in 2009. He has been at the Road Home Program for almost two years, and before that completed Chaplaincy programs at both Rush University and Northwestern hospitals.
Mark is a veteran of the U.S. Army.
Blake Schroedter, PsyD
“As a fellow veteran, I am honored to continue serving my country by assisting our brave men and women returning home from the battlefield and military service.”
Blake Schroedter is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Rush University. He is a clinical psychologist for the Road Home Program, where he oversees clinical operations at the Effingham, Illinois clinic focused on increasing access to care for rural veterans.
He completed his postdoctoral research fellowship at Rush University Medical Center in 2017 and psychology internship at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in 2016. He is an adjunct online professor at Adler University, where he teaches a course on the psychology of combat.
He is the recipient of the following scholarships: Pat Tillman Scholarship – 2013, National Football League Tillman Scholarship – 2013, Alfred Adler Scholarship – 2012 and the Cummins Veteran Scholarship – 2007.
He is also a 2013 recipient of the Presidential Service Award. Blake joined the Illinois Army National Guard in 2001 at the age of 17. He is currently assigned to the Joint Force Medical Department, where he holds the rank of Captain.
He was awarded the Bronze Star and Golden Combat Spurs in 2009 during a deployment to Afghanistan for his role in training and operating with the Afghanistan National Army, while assigned as a combat advisor. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for Valor and Combat Action Badge in 2005 during a year-long deployment to Iraq.
Benjamin Shulman, MA, LPC
“I believe in taking a holistic approach to mental health care. Seeing a patient as a whole allows clinicians to understand the patient and how to help. I am very excited to be a part of the Road Home Program and to help support veterans and their families. Military service men and women have given so much to our country, and I am honored to be part of a team that can give back.”
Ben Shulman is a graduate of the Adler School of Professional Psychology (now Adler University) in Chicago, where he received a master’s degree in counseling, with a specialization in clinical mental health counseling. His experience in the field includes an internship at Ingalls Memorial Hospital’s Intensive Outpatient Program for adults in Flossmoor, Ill. He also worked as a research assistant for clinical drug trials. Shulman received a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Indiana University in Bloomington.
Shulman’s grandfather served in the United States Army during the Korean War. His grandfather was a physician at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, where he ran one of the first outpatient mental health centers in the Army at that time.
Christine Szewczyk, MSW, LCSW
Clinical Social Worker
“It takes incredible courage and integrity to make the sacrifices our veterans make. I am grateful for the opportunity to devote my service to them in the Road Home Program.”
Christine Szewczyk has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has been a licensed clinical social worker since 2005. Prior to joining the Road Home Program, she worked at Rush University Medical Center as the social worker care coordinator for the mood disorders unit.
She has previous experience as a clinical therapist and administrator in community mental health and therapeutic day school settings. Szewczyk believes strongly in the need to provide comprehensive and compassionate care to veterans.
Kaitlin Thompson, LCSW, CADC
Clinical Social Worker
“Veterans bravely sacrifice so much for the greater good and deserve all the support they need while serving and when coming home. Every veteran’s experience is unique and complex and the journey rarely ends at the completion of service. I am proud to become part of that journey by working with veterans in a collaborative, compassionate style to help navigate through any residual turmoil and conflict from their service and uncover new strategies for coping, taking control, and moving forward.“
Kaitlin Thompson has worked with individuals struggling with mental health symptoms, experiences of trauma, and substance abuse for over 9 years.
Thompson is a registered yoga teacher and incorporates a whole person approach. She is interested in exploring the mind-body connection to support ongoing positive change and increased awareness.
Before coming to the Road Home Program, Thompson was at Heartland’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, working with veterans experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Thompson is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and a certified alcohol and drug counselor (CADC) with a master’s degree of social work from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Northeastern University in Boston, MA.
Vanessa Tirone, PhD
“Too many veterans feel alone in their efforts to cope with difficult situations and emotions. I am proud to be part of Road Home’s mission to provide cutting edge treatment to every veteran.”
Vanessa Tirone is a Clinical Psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center. Tirone completed her bachelor’s degree at the State University of New York College at Geneseo and her Masters and doctorate at the University of Tennessee. Her internship was at the VA Western New York Healthcare System and she completed a post-doctoral fellowship in trauma and women’s behavioral health at Rush. Outside of her academic career she has a history of advocacy with survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault.
Tirone specializes in providing evidenced-based therapy for PTSD, with particular attention to how gender and cultural identities impact individuals’ experiences. Her research looks at the impact of interpersonal violence on mental and physical health, relationship functioning, and engagement in care.
Wellness and Integrative Health
Mindfulness Training Instructor
“It is a privilege to be a part of The Road Home Program and serve our country’s bravest men and women. I believe healing happens when individuals get the opportunity to reunite the mind, body and spirit. Mindfulness is a tool that helps create a deeper sense of self-awareness and empowerment. This increased awareness allows one to deal with life’s challenges with greater ease and resiliency.”
Susan Gray serves as an ally by helping people experience the best of themselves at any given stage of healing. She draws upon her experience as a certified Mayo Clinic wellness coach and mindfulness teacher. Gray also teaches stress reduction through mindfulness and movement programs in the workplace.
Gray has been meditating since 1996 and studies mindfulness-based stress reduction at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Yoga Instructor, Certified Personal Trainer
“Being a part of such a caring, collaborative team at the Road Home Program is both humbling and inspiring. I am grateful for the privilege to teach yoga to the men and women who have served our country with sacrifice and bravery. Each person I meet has a unique story of accomplishment, honor and sometimes obstacles. Wellness for the body begins in the mind; they are deeply connected and rely on each other for balance. During yoga class, I encourage each person to listen to their own body and simply focus their attention there. This allows a quieting of the mind and a self-awareness, which many do not experience in everyday life. This can be an incredibly challenging, yet powerful and rewarding journey.”
Rebekah Marcano has studied and practiced a variety of yoga and wellness methods for more than 20 years. She has 16 years of teaching experience as a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and group fitness instructor.
She also develops fitness and wellness programs within large corporations, hoping to transform the often-stressful workplace culture and promote work-life balance. She is excited to bring her expertise of yoga and body movement to the Road Home Program.
Kristie Miller, RD, LDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Physical Activity Instructor
“I feel honored and inspired to be able to be a part of the Road Home Team. The veterans have sacrificed immensely for our country. They, as well as their families, deserve the help they need to improve their everyday lives. Assisting with the Road Home Program is my way of saying “thank you” and giving back to the veterans for all they have done for our country.”
Kristie Miller earned her bachelor’s degree in Dietetics at Indiana University and went on to complete her Dietetic Internship and Graduate Certificate Program at Bradley University. She is currently working on becoming a certified personal trainer. Kristie is eager to share her knowledge in nutrition and physical activity with the veterans of the Road Home Program.
Barbara Schmidt, L.Ac.
“I feel honored to work in a collaborative environment with skilled and passionate professionals who share a singular focus: to bring our expertise to bear in the healing process of the veterans who seek our help. I am excited to have the opportunity to show our veterans some of the power of acupuncture and how it can facilitate their healing.”
Barbara Schmidt is a licensed acupuncturist, graduating from acupuncture school magna cum laude in 2001. She chose the field of acupuncture for a mid-life career change from consulting engineering. When not at RHP, she splits her time between teaching for a local acupuncture college and working in private practice.
Schmidt comes from a military family whose members served in times of both peace and war (WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam).
Jennifer Ventrelle, MS, RD, CPT
Registered Dietitian and Certified Personal Trainer
“This country is a better, safer place thanks to our veterans and the sacrifices they’ve made. I feel grateful to be able to help improve the lifestyles of these veterans and their families, and give back in thanks for their honorable service.”
Jennifer earned her MS in Clinical Nutrition at Rush University and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine. She has over 10 years of clinical and teaching experience in nutrition and physical activity, and is currently involved in intervention design and implementation of clinical and workplace wellness programs focused on sustainable lifestyle change. Jennifer is excited to bring her expertise to our nation’s veterans and be a part of the Road Home team.
Clinical Research Assistant
“The women and men who have served in our armed forces have made incredible sacrifices for our nation, and I feel honored to work with them and their family members here at the Road Home Program. It is truly a privilege to be part of a team that affords high-quality care and uses research as a tool to help constantly improve care for veterans here and across the country.”
Jenna graduated from Santa Clara University with Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Spanish. Her research interests include improving treatment strategies for PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Long-term, she aspires to earn her PhD in clinical psychology and continue to do research in these areas.
Jenna is also the granddaughter of a U.S. Army veteran.
“It is an honor to contribute to research that helps ensure that veterans are receiving the best care possible. Having been in the Army myself, and having known several veterans in my personal life who have struggled with returning to civilian life, it is clear that there is a need to help provide support for those that have sacrificed so much for our country. I am proud to be part of an organization that has risen to this challenge.”
Randy Boley is a research coordinator in the Department of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center.
He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) where he majored in Psychology and conducted research focused on trauma and rehabilitation.
Clinical Research Assistant
“When I learned of the research being conducted at the Road Home Program I was amazed at what they are doing for our troops. As a Marine Corps veteran, I know the importance of their mission and want to be a part of it. It is an honor to contribute to research that is helping those who have made a great sacrifice for our freedom.”
Karyna Bravo is a Marine Corps veteran who was stationed with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3 in San Diego, California. She deployed to Bahrain in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2013.
Karyna earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Loyola University Chicago. Her research interests include examining resilience factors that assist with the prevention of PTSD.
Imran Desai, MBA
“It is an honor to work for our veterans, who sacrifice their lives so that we could have a safer life. I am committed to improve our data quality and enhance data visualization to improve the lives of our veterans.”
Imran is a Systems Analyst at the Road Home Program. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with an MBA degree concentrated in Business Analytics. He received his Bachelor’s degree in science from Purdue University.
Clinical Research Assistant
“My window into the world of the military came from books written by war correspondents and service members. The experiences were secondhand, confined to the page for me, but they left an impression. Over and over, I read about service members being misunderstood or wrongly treated as damaged goods upon returning home. I was drawn to the Road Home Program for the respect it shows veterans and for its commitment to understanding and supporting their lives after the military, and I am appreciative of the opportunity to work with and learn from the veterans who surround me each day.”
Victoria graduated from Northwestern University with Bachelor degrees in Psychology and Music Cognition. Her research interests include the role of constructing stories and narratives in treatment for combat-related PTSD, the development of social and peer support interventions for service members and veterans, and the improvement of existing treatments for PTSD. She aims to earn her PhD in clinical psychology and to continue working with military populations.
Michael Kerley, USN (Ret.)
Manager, Outreach & Networking
“Once I left the military I needed to find my new life’s mission. That new mission is outreach for the Road Home Program. Who we are, what we do and why we do it. During my service, I was honored and privileged to work alongside all branches of our armed forces. There are common threads that connect all of us – dedication to the defense of freedom, to service and shared sacrifice. Each of us have served but some are now suffering from the invisible wounds of war and life. My new mission is helping to inform our veterans and their families about this amazing program and how it can change their lives.”
Commander Michael M. Kerley, USN (Ret.) started his Navy career as an enlisted sailor, eventually being selected as a Chief Petty Officer, later a Chief Warrant Officer and finally as a senior Line Officer. He has recently retired after over 38 years on both active duty and in the reserve. Mike has served on various surface ships, amphibious assault craft, ground-based surveillance units and Navy Recruiting Command. While in the Navy reserve, he spent a number of years in the telecommunications industry. Mike holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL.
Sheri Gross, M.S.Ed
Senior Family Outreach Coordinator
“As the spouse of an Army veteran, I know firsthand how difficult coming home can be — and, even more so, how much family and community support is critical to making a successful transition into civilian life. While each person’s needs are unique, I have found that most veterans yearn for the sense of belonging and community they found in the military. Helping them find this feeling of ‘family’ in civilian life is essential. I am honored and humbled to be a part of an organization dedicated to connecting service members and their families to the help they need — and to each other.“
Sheri Gross is the spouse of a United States Army veteran with a background in mental health and higher education. Prior to joining the Road Home Program, she successfully established and sustained Saint Xavier University’s veteran program. There she helped create a safe, welcoming and collaborative space on campus for student veterans and their loved ones. She also worked in various mental health care settings with veterans and their family members in Illinois and Colorado. She is committed to helping veterans and their families navigate the military-to-civilian transition.
Gross received both a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master of Science in Education in counseling from Northern Illinois University.
Veteran Outreach Coordinator
“As a Marine Corps veteran I have seen and experienced firsthand the challenges of coming back home. I struggled with finding my purpose outside of the Marines. Since coming to the Road Home I have seen the veterans that come through our program leave in a better place than when they first walked through our doors. I have heard the testimonies from the veteran’s family and friends of how they have hope again. The Road Home Program has given me the opportunity to help the veteran community, it has given me a purpose.”
Ashton Kroner served in the United States Marine Corps for five years as a Field Radio Operator with 8th Communications Battalion, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. She deployed in 2009 in support of OIF receiving orders as a Lioness attached to 1st Battalion, 8th Marines in Al-Taqaddum Air Base. In 2011 she deployed to Camp Leatherneck in support of OEF with 8th Communications Battalion. From 2012 to 2015 she was a Recruiter stationed with 1st Marine Corps District RS Albany, New York.
After her time in service, Ashton completed her Bachelor’s degree from Purdue University, graduating as a Summa Cum Laude in July 2018. She worked at a medical device company as the Director of Recruiting prior to coming to the Road Home Program. She is a member of the Women Marines Association IL-2 Blanche S. Osborne Detachment, and the McHenry Detachment #1009 Marine Corps League.
Modie Lavin, USMC Gold Star Mother
Senior Family Outreach Coordinator
“As a Gold Star mother, I understand the challenges parents and families face in moving on with their lives. In the steps of Gold Star Mothers founder Grace Darling Siebold, I feel that I am honoring my son and his sacrifice for our country by helping our returning veterans and families adjust to civilian life.”
Modie understands the needs for mental health programs for military families firsthand. Modie’s son served as a Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 with 2nd Battalion/11th Marines. Her son, Cpl. Conner T. Lowry was KIA on 3/1/2012 in Helmand Provence, Afghanistan.
Modie Lavin is the Family Outreach Coordinator at Rush University Medical Center. Prior to coming to Rush, she was the Program Facilitator for Veterans at the Chicago Park District and worked closely with the Jesse Brown VA and other community service providers and organizations. Lavin chartered recreational-based programs for veterans as well as coordinated events. Lavin also directed resource fairs for veterans at various locations throughout Chicago, including a Resource Expo at Soldier Field alongside the Valor Games Midwest.
Lavin and her family consistently attend ceremonies and events honoring our fallen and veterans.
Senior Outreach Coordinator
“Knowing that I can personally make a difference in the life of a veteran struggling with PTSD or any other problems made me want to join the Road Home team. As a veteran myself, I know the transition from military to civilian life can be difficult. With all the help the Road Home Program offers, I know we can help make the transformation smooth.”
Justin Lyman is a United States Marine Corps. veteran. He was stationed in 29 Palms in California with the 7th Marine Regiment as a motor transport operator.
Lyman deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan in 2013 with Regimental Combat Team 7. He is currently attending DeVry University, pursuing a degree in business administration with a focus in project management.
Mary Ossowski, MA
Manager, Administrative Support
“I grew up listening to my dad’s stories of his WWII Navy days. He was profoundly affected by it and never got over some experiences. I am so glad the Road Home Program exists to help today’s Veterans cope with and heal from their experiences. What an honor to be a part of it!”
Mary has a BS in Human Services and Social Justice and an MA in International Studies from Wheaton College. Her passion for helping others led her to serve with an International faith-based organization in Spain for 25 years. Besides helping immigrants to Spain with self-sufficiency skills, she organized and led humanitarian aid trips in North Africa. She continues her involvement in the areas of social justice and compassion through several volunteer services.
“I was a freshman in High School when 9/11 occurred and I watched my best friends enlist in different branches of our military. While they were serving our country, I was learning how to advocate for them and their families. I feel very honored to be working with our veterans and their families. It takes a lot of courage to trust a complete stranger to advocate for you. We not only have a dedicated staff but also an innovative program designed to provide a safe environment while helping our veterans and their families heal. Thank you for your service.”
Catherine Cordell graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Family Services. At Eastern she was president of Student Council for Exceptional Children, worked with Habitat for Humanity, and volunteered on a Sexual Assault Crisis Hotline.
Cordell’s grandfather and great grandfather both served in the United States Army stationed in Texas.
Molly Knapp, LSW
“I am excited to be a part of the Road Home Program team because I have the opportunity to work alongside so many dedicated individuals who care deeply for veterans and their families.”
Molly Knapp is the Education Coordinator for the Road Home Program where she will provide training experiences for not only staff but community providers as well.
Molly graduated from Trinity Christian College, before moving on to Dominican University where she earned her Masters of Social Work in 2014. Molly is also a Licensed Social Worker in the state of Illinois. She previously worked in training and education in the Chicagoland area at a domestic violence agency where she created different bullying prevention programs and has also been training the community on military and veterans issues for the past few years.
“The price each veteran pays for our freedom is a high one — and one that lasts for the duration of his or her life. It is critical that we recognize each veteran’s sacrifices for us, not only on national holidays, but every day. This recognition includes responding to veterans’ emotional and physical pains and helping them with all of their needs. I am honored to be part of the Road Home Program, which provides a welcoming and safe environment for veterans and their families to heal, as well as resources to help them transition home.”
Liz Michalski is an honorably discharged Air Force veteran who served as an Air Operations Manager at the 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, as well as the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing, Cannon Air Force Base. She spent part of her tour as a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy.
Keeping with the “Service to Country” mantra, Michalski has been passionately serving the local and global community in numerous capacities and initiatives, including outreach, pastoral care and social justice ministries for our most vulnerable. Michalski is a member of the American Legion, Naperville Post #43 where she is Senior Vice Commander.
“Being a Navy Veteran myself, I am very thankful to be a part of this program. It feels so rewarding to be helping out my fellow veterans and their families with getting the care and treatment that they need.”
Rebecca Risley is a Navy active duty and reserve veteran with 22 years of military service. She served on the USS Kitty Hawk CV 63, and served on multiple deployments for both Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. She has 10 years of Supply logistics experience, as well as 10 years of Administrative experience. Her deployments include multiple locations, such as Japan, Kuwait, Cuba and Bahrain. Previously, she worked at the United States Postal Service and Walgreens Return Center. In addition, while attending college, Rebecca assisted veterans with processing GI Bill benefits and other veteran-specific benefits. She participates with many Veteran organizations. She has a General Studies degree and a Business Administration Certificate.
Marie Van Steenwyk
“I was 19 when I joined the US Navy. I wanted to see the world, serve my country and make a difference. Being a part of the Road Home Program allows me to help other service members who have returned home yet face many difficulties. I feel my experiences in the Navy and those as a veteran have prepared me to provide quality service and to all the veterans that need our assistance.”
Marie Van Steenwyk is a 12 year United States Navy and Naval Reserve veteran. After completing boot camp and A-school at Great Lakes Naval Station, she reported for duty at the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station, Europe Central in Naples, Italy where she was a watch supervisor at the Defense Messaging System’s Help Desk managing and troubleshooting 500-plus-user enterprise network and information security system for 24/7 availability.
After her time in the military she went back to school using her GI Bill and took a work/study position at the Evanston Vet Center where she found her passion for working with veterans and ultimately led her to her current position at the Road Home program. Marie is also Commander of VFW Post #198, Pvt. Georgle Harles.