Stephanie Gattas founded the Pink Berets in 2016 to give women veterans something she couldn’t find for herself, an organization that was entirely focused on the needs of women veterans healing from PTSD and other trauma. The VA offers medical treatment and she found plenty of resources available to assist with things like paying bills and transportation, but she needed something that took a more holistic approach and that addressed women’s mental health directly.
“I decided to build an organization,” said Gattas. “I knew it would take time and a lot of work and would require a team of people who understood the mission.”
Pink Berets offers therapy and multiple services to help women veterans recover from trauma and to equip them with practical life skills. She started with equine therapy and later added culinary art therapy, art and photography, and a series of retreats for women to explore and try different programs to find the best fit.
“Everything that we offer in Pink Berets I’ve tried and beta tested. I’ve had these struggles and I wanted something that was more personalized,” she continued. “Equine therapy was life changing for me. It was the first time I felt in tune with my emotions. You can’t take any chances in front of an animal that size, you must be fully present. I wanted other people to experience that, so it was one of the first big projects to launch.”
Gattas said the culinary therapy program is similar because it requires you to be fully present or risk real danger in the kitchen. The culinary and art and photography programs are designed to give women options so that they find what resonates most with them personally.
The retreats launched in 2021 and have been a powerful addition to the Pink Berets program.
“It’s a weekend of allowing yourself to learn more about your journey and to try all the different therapies at once – things they probably never thought to do for themselves,” Gattas said. “It’s also an opportunity to build comradery with other women veterans and allows women to take back their life and to remember that sense of normalcy that they felt before trauma.”
The Catchafire system that Social Venture Partners San Antonio made available to organizations like the Pink Berets supported growth by offering a platform to share and advocate for those who need assistance. The Pink Berets have used Catchafire to build content for advocacy, create promotional material and to get established in Salesforce.
“Catchafire offers so much to enhance the organization,” she said. “We’ve worked with people from all over – India, Canada, the United States – they teach you fundraising, grant writing. The knowledge that we get from these people through Catchafire has been invaluable. And it was very easy to get started. There are webinars to teach you how to use it and they are constantly following up to make sure it is working efficiently for you.”
Gattas said members of the Pink Berets leadership team are largely entrepreneurs themselves so they understand the value of Catchafire and utilize it well.
“They offer help on social media, marketing, website building, you name it. It is a hub of all things business,” she continued.
For more information on Pink Berets, visit thepinkberets.org.