Maureen Elias is an Army veteran, Army military spouse, mother of three, veteran advocate, and full-time student. Maureen served as a Counterintelligence Agent in the United States Army from 2001-2006. She received an honorable discharge after injuries sustained in training degraded to the point where she needed to separate from the service.
Maureen is set to graduate in December 2017 with a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland. While attending school, Maureen has served in various leadership positions to include President of the Bowie State University Student Veteran Association, Vice President of Internal Affairs for the Graduate Student Association, and President of the NCE/CPCE Prep Club, an organization she developed and implemented resulting in a 100 percent comprehensive exam pass rate among counseling students who regularly attended.
In January 2017, she was selected to represent her university at the White House Healthy Campus Day for her work on the Healthy Campus Challenge. In May 2017, she was awarded the Presidential Student Leadership Award, the top graduate student leadership award at her university. She is currently completing her internship at Creative Alternatives, an innovative Johns Hopkins Program that provides wraparound services for adults dealing with serious and persistent mental illnesses using a blend of traditional and nontraditional services.
As a fellow in the January 2017 class of High Ground Veterans Advocacy, she learned to transform the leadership and teamwork skills that she learned while in the military into effective advocacy techniques. She began her advocacy journey working towards bringing holistic therapies into treatment plans for veterans with PTSD. Read about her experience here. Her work as an advocate led to her employment as a research assistant and veterans advocate for The Veterans Health Council at Vietnam Veterans of America. She is currently working on policy to provide safe, accepting environments in continual care facilities for the aging LGBTQ+ veteran population.
Maureen was named 2017 Fort Meade Base Spouse of the Year, selected as one of the top 100 student veteran leaders in the nation, and won the LMI Student Veteran National Scholarship. She was selected as one of 25 rising veteran leaders for the Veterans in Global Leadership Fellowship, which has helped bring her voice to a national platform. She also volunteers with the Travis Manion Foundation and loves sharing about opportunities and experiences with other veterans.
Maureen’s goal is to be an advocate of mental health within the veteran community. She was invited to appear on the local veteran television station Veterans Forum in Bowie, MD where she had the opportunity to speak about both local and national recent veteran issues. She shared her experience and advice for disabled student veterans in the Spring 2017 Special Interest Group Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) Newsletter. Her experiences as a disabled woman veteran, mother, military spouse, and student give her a unique perspective as she advocates for veteran health issues. You can follow her on Twitter and Medium.
"Until we reduce the stigma around mental illness and increase access to services, we will not succeed in lowering the rate of mental health related emergency room visits, substance abuse, and suicide. It is imperative that the Department of Veterans Affairs treat and fund mental health with the same weight as physical health."