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Year of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

MALS: Social Sciences

Directing Professor

Andrew Matzner


Trauma is not a new phenomenon, but understanding the breadth and gravity is something we have only recently begun to comprehend. An in depth examination of how we go to this point is the impetus for this essay. Much of the research into trauma focuses on soldiers; therefore, I reviewed research conducted by medical doctors and psychiatrists beginning with the Civil War and extending through the most recent wars fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. This provided an overview of the shifts in perception of trauma over the past one hundred forty years, eventually resulting in the inclusion of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a diagnosable mental health disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Additionally, the Adverse Childhood Experiences study was reviewed to gain a better understanding of the connection between traumatic experiences and long-term health and behavioral issues, and articles were reviewed on the neuroscience behind trauma and the impact on the brain and memory. Effective treatment modalities were researched. Finally the current movement towards creating trauma-informed communities was explored, including key components as defined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Council for Behavioral Health. Local efforts in the Roanoke Valley to create a trauma-informed care community over the past three years is described, detailing specific actions taken by five community agencies.