When Xiomara A. Sosa joined the Army, she never dreamed she’d one day become a successful mental health counselor in charge of two nonprofit organizations. Like many young enlistees, the native New Yorker was simply seeking a college education. Then again, based on her family history, she might have known she’d eventually go the humanitarian route.
“I’ve been involved in volunteer work for as long as I can remember,” says Sosa, who started the “You Are Strong! Center on Veterans Health and Human Services” — an agency committed to advocating for the mental health needs of servicemen and women — in 2011. She also runs her own private consulting practice and “Get-Right!,” a nonprofit focused on mental health issues facing children and families.
“My parents come from countries that are developing, and so many people have such huge needs,” Sosa adds. We’d travel there for summers and lived there at times. My parents always took back clothes, toiletries, whatever they knew people could use that we as Americans took for granted.”
Following her tour of duty, Sosa landed a position at the U.S. Army Research Institute for Behavioral and Social Sciences. That got her started on an impressive career that, over the past 20-plus years, has included stints at numerous nonprofits. She’s worked on behalf of impoverished families, LGBT journalists, and Hispanic professionals, among other people in need, and given her military background, it was only natural she turn to vets.
“There’s an unspoken bond, experience, frame of reference only veterans can understand,” Sosa says. “Also, my life-long love, who I met in basic training, is a retired Iraq veteran. As the one person I still hold on the highest pedestal, I am always inspired to give all that I can.”
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