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Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists

Archive for November 2010

Why Dr. Elena Cherepanov Deserved the Carol Hacker Award

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Our last post was written by Dr. Elena Cherepanov in reaction to receiving the 2010 Carol Hacker award. As most of you read, Dr. Cherepanov was both surprised and completely honored to be this year’s recipient.

Now, ATSS President Kent Laidlaw explains what Dr. Cherepanov’s role is inside ATSS and why she was the unanimous choice for the 2010 Carol Hacker award:

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Elena Cherepanov, Certified Trauma Specialist, was the unanimous choice of the ATSS Board of Directors to be the recipient of the prestigious Carol Hacker Award for 2010.

Elena has worked tirelessly as the Chair of the Education and Training Committee for the past several years.

In this role, Elena reviews all of the submissions for individuals and/or organizations that want their trainings endorsed by ATSS and are suitable for the various certifications offered.

In addition to this significant role, she also acts as the ATSS representative for organizations that seek to have a memorandum of agreement or protocol with ATSS.

When the 2010 conference planning was ongoing, Elena volunteered to review all of the abstracts and submissions for potential workshops for the conference. A huge undertaking as we had approximately 40 abstracts submitted for consideration.

Elena has also volunteered to assume a variety of other Board-related responsibilities.

Based on this significant list of accomplishments, on behalf of ATSS, we are pleased to confirm Elena as the 2010 recipient of the Carol Hacker Award.

Written by traumalines

November 30, 2010 at 8:56 pm

ATSS Presents the 2010 Carol Hacker Award to Elena Cherepanov

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“I still find it hard to believe,” says Elena Cherepanov when she thinks back to receiving the Carol Hacker award.

Elena takes us on a little trip back in time, when she first found out about Carol Hacker and what she meant to ATSS:

In 2007, when I came to the conference in Maine, I’d just recently reconnected with ATSS after many years. I was new to the Board, and there was a lot going on in the organization and in my own life. I was in the midst of a major health crisis, still unsure which way it would go, and if I will even be able to continue with anything at all.

It all made me look back at my life in order to re-evaluate it. I was doing many things automatically, without investing; I felt numb and unreal and was desperately in need of a point of reference, something that is definite and untarnishable in my life.

Then I suddenly woke up to it…In a kaleidoscope of people, relationships, group dynamics, and egos, I sensed something very true.

Several very different people completely independently took me aside, to the corner of the room where there was a strange, copper shiny thing: some kind of combination of lantern and altar. I was told than that this is a very special object that was created to commemorate a person who was very dear to everybody in ATSS: Carol Hacker.

I was told that she used to be the ATSS president; that she was a great person, was very respected and loved by everybody. She recently passed away leaving behind a great legacy of positive and unifying energy.

I felt very important and thankful to everyone who brought me to the lantern in order to tell me the Carol Hacker story. Carol’s story was more than a personal account; she was the heart and soul of the organization. Back then I remember thinking, “How wonderful it must be to have such a great and positive impact on people, and leave a legacy that brings everyone together and one that keeps on giving.”

“To this day I remain very grateful to all who introduced me in such a personal way back then to the living history of ATSS,” explains Elena.

Later, ATSS went through a major crises and transitions, and eventually re-emerged in many different ways. I wasn’t even sure that the lantern survived through the organizational transition.

Elena was presented with the prestigious 2010 Carol Hacker award at this year’s conference:

Then in the process of preparing for the 2010 conference, it was brought up. I received the e-mail saying that this year it won’t be awarded at Toronto’s 2010 Conference since there were no nominations submitted, and the Conference Committee did not follow through.

 “Oh s…” I remember thinking. On one hand I could easily relate to this — everybody was so exhausted preparing for the conference that any extra task was an overload. On the other hand, not presenting the award somehow felt wrong.

They tricked me!!!! Not for a second did I ever imagine that I could be the next recipient of the Carol Hacker award!

The next thing I knew is that at the luncheon I was simply chatting with my table mates. Then Kent starts talking. We try to keep our voices down when all of the sudden I begin to pick up cues such as, “This person read all the submissions.”

My friend asks, “Does Kent mean you?” I reply, “No, can’t be.”

“Now for sure Kent means someone else and I have no idea who he is talking about,” I say to myself.  Then the reality gradually began to sink in. I heard my name being called and saw all the eyes turning towards me. Everyone is smiling.

My first intention was to duck under the table. But then I thought that I am expected to go to the podium and to say something (and preferably not in Russian).

It wasn’t until later in the day that I really got the opportunity to process this huge news. I received so many warm congratulations, handshakes and hugs from complete strangers acknowledging that Carol Hacker and her legacy is very much alive in the hearts of ATSS members. And at that time I knew that I was in the right place.

I cannot express how much I appreciate being the Carol Hacker Award recipient. It means the world to me!  This is more than an award; this is an honor, inspiration, and the point of highest professional and personal standards. I shall do my best to live up to it. 

Congratulations Elena!

Written by traumalines

November 23, 2010 at 9:15 pm

UPDATE: 9/11 Responders Finally Get Their Settlement

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All the way back in June we blogged about how many of the 9/11 first-responders and the clean-up crew were locked in a legal battle with the City of New York over a settlement to cover health costs. We learned this week that this ongoing chapter in the lives of many first-responders is now finally closed.

From (06/13/10):

About 10,000 “rescue and cleanup workers” employed by New York City to clean up ground zero after the World Trade Center have been stricken with a variety of serious illnesses.

A settlement was reached back in March but was later rejected by a federal judge. In addition to the physical and mental constraints, the workers have also had to pay expensive legal fees:

The workers sued the city and its contractors six years ago over respiratory illnesses and other injuries they say they suffered at the World Trade Center site in the 9/11 rescue and cleanup effort, arguing that they were not given protective equipment or adequate supervision.

It’s nearly six months later, but the first-responders and the clean-up crew have finally settled with the city. From the Washington Post:

More than 10,000 workers exposed to the tons of toxic dust that blanketed ground zero after the World Trade Center fell have ended their bruising legal fight with New York City and joined a settlement worth at least $625 million, officials said Friday.

The deal will resolve an overwhelming majority of the lawsuits over the city’s failure to provide protective equipment to the army of construction workers, police officers and firefighters who spent months clearing and sifting rubble after Sept. 11.

“This settlement is a fair and just resolution of these claims, protecting those who came to the aid of this City when we needed it most,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

Written by traumalines

November 22, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Upcoming ATSS Regional Meeting in Southern Ontario

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At the end of this month, the Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists ( is holding another regional meeting. While the last regional meeting was held in Hoboken, New Jersey, this upcoming gathering will be held in Southern Ontario.

The Southern Ontario Networking Group will be meeting on November 29, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at the Halton Regional Police Headquarters (1151 Bronte Road, Oakville), in their “Community Room.”

Join us for an informal opportunity to network with others who share an interest in trauma and critical incident stress related issues. The topic of this upcoming meeting is “Trauma Through the Eyes of Children and Teens.”

Featured Speaker

Cara Grosset, MSW, RSW, CT, will be the meeting’s featured speaker. Grosset is a social worker in private practice providing bereavement, trauma and EAP counseling, and is a consultant for Bereaved Families of Ontario. She also teaches Continuing Education at Mohawk College and is a volunteer mental health member of the Brant County Fire & Ambulance Critical Incident Response Team.

For more information

We ask that you bring a $5 donation, and please RSVP by Wednesday, November 24, 2010. Please contact Ron Mellish at 905-483-4354 or at

Parking and Directions

Attendees will be arriving into the Halton Region Complex. There is plenty of free parking, just follow the signs.

From the south, (Burlington , Oakville , etc) take 25 North just north of the QEW, turn right (east) at light and follow signs into the Halton Region Complex and to the police department location.                                                      

From the north, east and west, take 401 to #25 Hwy exit (Milton) south, travel almost to the QEW. Turn left (east) into the Halton Region Complex.  Proceed to the east end of the building.

Written by traumalines

November 17, 2010 at 8:53 pm

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Things You Should Do This Veterans Day

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In the days leading up to today, Veterans Day, I have read a lot of criticism of how the United States “supports” their troops.

This from Arianna Huffington:

Do you have anything special planned for Veterans Day? Did you even realize that [today] is Veterans Day?

Sadly, in much the same way that the wars we are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq have been pushed to the periphery of our national conversation, the day set aside to honor America’s veterans usually gets short shrift.

Despite all the lip service paid by politicians and pundits to supporting our troops, the needs and struggles of those returning home are rarely in the spotlight.

This from Bob Herbert:

The idea that the United States is at war and hardly any of its citizens are paying attention to the terrible burden being shouldered by its men and women in uniform is beyond appalling.

We can get fired up about Lady Gaga and the Tea Party crackpots. We’re into fantasy football, the baseball playoffs and our obsessively narcissistic tweets. But American soldiers fighting and dying in a foreign land? That is such a yawn.

You can’t help but at least partially agree with some of these sentiments. If you were to ask me, “Do you think Americans — the government and citizens alike — could be doing more to support our troops?” My answer would be “yes.”

But let’s make an effort to change all that.

If you have the means to give financially, there are countless organizations and programs that you can donate money to which will go to help support our soldiers. If you’re interested, be sure to check out “Salute to Service.”

Just because you donate any money doesn’t mean you can’t support our troops. The USO is running an initiative called “Thanks From Everywhere” — I mentioned it in last night’s blog post. All you have to do is simply type in your message of support which will be sent to our troops overseas.

And even if you don’t want to send a message, just remember not to forget about our soldiers; don’t forget that our servicemen and servicewoman are overseas in some very unfavorable conditions; don’t lose sight that these men and woman will be away from their families this holiday season.

Let’s all try and do as much as we can, whenever we can (not just on Veterans Day) to remember the service and sacrifice of our troops, past and present.

Written by traumalines

November 11, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Honoring Our Troops, Past and Present

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The Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists would like to wish everyone a Happy Veterans Day. I think most of us either know of someone who served or is serving in the armed forces, or someone who has been affected by or lived through a war.

What’s the history behind Veterans Day? According to the Department of Veterans Affairs:

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.

The USO has a great program running called “Thanks from Everywhere.” The goal is get citizens from around the country to send a personalized message of thanks and support to our troops. I did it just a few minutes ago, and it’s simple and doesn’t take much time at all.

Click here to send your thanks from wherever you are.

Personally, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my two grandfathers Joseph and Peter — WWII veterans — as well as my close friends Jerry, who served in Iraq, and Adam who was stationed in Africa, for their service and dedication to our country.

Is there a family member or a friend you’d like to thank or remember on this Veterans Day? Just leave us a comment and share your thanks and appreciation.

Written by traumalines

November 10, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Holiday Gift Giving

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As the holidays grow closer, our days seem to get busier and busier. Balancing work with family gatherings and gift shopping, it’s easy to get bogged down and forget about the soldiers who are overseas during this 2010 holiday season.

Yet, you can take just a few minutes and provide a gift to our soldiers who are away from home this year. While I’m sure there are more organizations doing so, the USO and the Red Cross are currently accepting donations that will help deliver some holiday cheer to our servicemen and servicewoman.

Click here to check out the Red Cross’ 2010 Holiday Giving Catalog.

This post is just a short reminder not to forget about our troops during the upcoming holiday season.

Written by traumalines

November 4, 2010 at 8:22 pm