Hannah Simms knew she wanted to be an independent therapist, and when she became a military spouse, she saw that her calling was needed more than ever. “I’ve had a lot of spouses say to me, ‘I went to a therapist; they don’t understand the military lifestyle.’”
According to the Blue Star Families 2021 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, 21% of active-duty respondents reported wanting mental health care, but not receiving it, and 19% of active-duty families with an adolescent oldest child reported not currently receiving mental health care but would like to. The reason? Many blamed the system; 23% of those respondents said their child did not receive care because they were concerned that the status would limit or prevent future military service.
Armed with the understanding that military families desperately need mental health care, Hannah founded Rise Alone Therapy. It was a painstaking labor of love as she navigated not only the hardships of a new business, but also receiving approval for TriCare, the insurance for active-duty military families. The path to get licensed, credentialed, and certified with TriCare was a lengthy year-long process, taking roughly eight months to get just to get paneled with the insurance giant. Yet she pressed on, committed to the military families who yearn for compassionate mental health care. After two years, Rise Alone Therapy opened in January — and Hannah’s calendar was halfway full before the launch week was over. She knew she had found a pain point in the military lifestyle, and she fully intends to bring relief.
Recently Hannah was talking to a military-spouse friend who is a child psychologist, and the discussion turned to a topic she hears all too often. “She said people just don’t want to be associated [with mental health help] because they don’t want to get put on EFMP [Exceptional Family Member Program] status. She’s a psychologist herself and a spouse, and she’s saying that! There’s a pervasive stigma and there’s also a pervasive need, so that’s why I created Rise Alone Therapy.”
Hannah came to Austin, TX, as a Semi-Finalist for the Military Entrepreneur Challenge. Well spoken and concise, she was recognized for the social-impact her business would have on the military community, and went on to be a coveted Top Three Finalist, pitching in front of a live audience. Though her competition was fierce, she became the first Military Entrepreneur Challenge Winner in 2023, receiving a $2,000 Second Service Foundation grant and legal package from Holland & Knight LLP worth $25,000.
Hannah’s dedication to military families is so strong that her plans for the grant and the pro-bono legal services are to bring on a marriage counselor for military couples. “I view the more we grow as the more lives we’re able to impact, so that would be the first thing. That’s my goal. That’s actually a goal that I would like to get done by mid this year is get someone hired.”