How We Are Different
We are combat veterans who have expertise in treating post-traumatic stress (disorder), often referred to as PTS(D). We utilize our military and crisis training to find solutions to resiliency challenges in individuals with all types of field-related trauma.
Our Bigger Purpose
Giving back, honoring losses and providing for the greater good is integrated in every step of our ongoing care plan.
Our Dedicated Team
Lt Col David Tharp, PsyD
CEO / Co-Founder
A clinical psychologist who is both a combat veteran and a former first responder himself, Dr. David Tharp founded Project Healing Heroes in 2016 to facilitate resiliency and reintegration for other combat veterans, service members, first responders, and their family members as they serve our nation both at home and abroad. Through his own experiences and clinical work, he recognized that PTSD and suicide are two of the most challenging issues facing our veterans and first responders today.
David served as the PTSD Program Manager at the VA Medical Center in Waco, TX, the third largest PTSD program in the country for the Department of Veterans Affairs. He is also a Lt Col in the Air Force Reserves at the United States Air Force Academy and experienced firsthand the cost of war on our military men and women - and their families - after serving as a NATO Medical Advisor in Kandahar, Afghanistan. As the Medical Advisor to the commander of Kandahar Airfield (COMKAF), David was responsible for 28 countries’ medical assets and for notifying the country or service of those KIA (killed in action) as well as any civilians. His other responsibilities included medical response to casualties from rocket attacks, which occurred daily, and serving as an advisor to the US Army mental health team.
For David’s tireless efforts to NATO, the Air Force and our country, he received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the third highest Department of Defense award given. In addition, he is a two-time national and Congressional award winner, first with the Disabled American Veterans National Commanders Award for the Department of Veteran Affairs in 2012 and then in 2014 from the Air Force Association as the Department of Veterans Affairs employee of the year. David was also in the top 2 percent of all federal agents at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, GA.
Along with his military- and mental health-related career, David has professional experience as a computer engineer, hospital chaplain, Lean Six Sigma blackbelt and strategic management liaison.
According to feedback provided to Project Healing Heroes, David is a highly engaging and compelling speaker. His thought provoking and interactive style is highly sought after and appreciated by audiences of all sizes. If you would like for him to speak at an event, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to include as much detail about the event as possible.
Ronna served for ten years on the board of directors of a nonprofit that assists wounded warriors. She has worked in cardiology, taught at the Department of Health and Kinesiology at UT Tyler, and is currently pursuing her law degree at SMU.
Board of Directors
Capt Katherine Taylor, MD
Board Member / Co-Founder
Dr. Katherine Taylor is an active-duty US Air Force psychiatrist. Prior to active-duty service, she was in the US Air Force Reserves for eight years while attending medical school and completing residency.
Dr. Taylor has received numerous awards throughout her medical education and career, including demonstrating humanism in medicine and excellence in psychiatry. She was honored by her peers for demonstrating personal strength, determination, and courage in overcoming significant adversity while pursuing her dream of becoming a physician. Throughout residency, she consistently performed in the top 1% of psychiatry residents nationally on annual in-training exams. She is passionate and committed to serving those who serve.
Brig Gen Jeffrey Kendall
Brig Gen Jeffrey Kendall is the president of JBK Integrated Solutions, a consulting company in New Braunfels, Texas. He is a retired US Air Force Brigadier General and highly decorated combat veteran who served in various command assignments around the globe.
Leila Harrison, PhD
Dr. Leila Harrison has worked in medical education since 2002 in Texas and Washington. She has held several leadership roles and currently serves as the Associate Dean for Admissions, Recruitment, and Inclusion at the Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine in Spokane, WA. She has served on state and national committees through the Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP) in Texas, supporting economically disadvantaged students pursuing medicine, and with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in Washington, DC, as a Holistic Review in Admissions Facilitator, Committee on Admissions Liaison, and Situational Judgment Test working committee. She has worked extensively in advising military veterans interested in pursuing medicine.
Dr. Harrison is originally from New Mexico. She is married to an Army combat veteran with four deployments and 25+ years of service across active duty, Reserves, and National Guard. She is passionate about serving veterans, and her educational background in psychology lends to her interest in creating systems and tools to support veterans and their families.
Col Peter Coldwell, MD
Col Peter Coldwell has served in the US military for 38 years and began his career on active duty as a Private Airborne medic and then served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is currently the State Surgeon for the Texas Army National Guard/Texas Military Forces.
Sammy Villela is a US Army veteran who served in various assignments while on active duty in support of U.S. international arms control treaty initiatives, weapons of mass destruction emergency response teams, counterespionage and special operations missions around the world. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors for Project Healing Heroes, Sammy is the chief financial officer of Strategic Global Commissioning, a nonprofit organization providing information services to Christian missionaries around the globe. He also currently leads a ministry team as part of a program known as God Behind Bars, which facilitates church services from his own church inside a Texas state penitentiary. With a love of history, Sammy also serves on the City of Cibolo, Texas’ Historical Committee.
As the former co-founder of a government contracting firm providing strategic planning and executive development to government and private sector clients, Sammy has published articles and white papers in military journals, newsletters and periodicals related to intelligence and military topics. His daytime job is as a Supervisory Counterintelligence Special Agent with the Department of Defense, managing and providing oversight to sensitive national security investigations and operations.
Sammy spent several years struggling with significant challenges related to PTSD following his service in both Iraq and Afghanistan. At one point, he found himself severely depressed, having lost his faith in God, coping with nightmares and feelings of guilt, and facing a divorce. It was then he contemplated the unimaginable. However, Sammy was able to overcome these challenges by completely changing his diet, exercising regularly, and receiving the help of a loving community that included friends, family and Project Healing Heroes, as well as by returning to his faith. Today, Sammy maintains a passion for helping veterans and their families realize the power of nutrition, community and faith to improve their physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. He is a noted public speaker on the topic of PTSD awareness, an advocate for veterans battling PTSD, and an event organizer for fundraising activities of Project Healing Heroes.
Strategic Advisory Panel
Terry is a board member and officer of Save A Warrior and USA Cares and a board member of WKU’s Kelly Autism Program. He is also an advisor to Smoky Mountain Service Dogs, Refuge for Women and The Center for Courageous Kids. He has held many positions in executive management throughout his career.
Jennifer Robinson, PhD
Dr. Robinson is a cognitive neuroscientist, Associate Professor of Psychology and Adjunct Professor in Electrical & Computer Engineering and Kinesiology at Auburn University. She is an avid veteran supporter, and has spent over a decade working to improve the diagnosis and understanding of PTSD.
Andrew James “AJ” Williams, PhD
Dr. Williams received his B.A. in psychology in 1980 and his Ph.D. in counseling in 1986 from the University of Texas, beginning his focus upon trauma recovery during his internship at the Temple VA. He worked for a rural MHMR for a year before moving on to a private outpatient clinic, where he subcontracted with Child Protective Services for 4.5 years. He also assessed adolescents and adults accused of child abuse for the court system and worked with victims and perpetrators of abuse in group, family and individual psychotherapy.
He was co-creator, clinical director and lead therapist for the Hays County Women's Center's Sexual Abuse Family Treatment project for 18 months, continuing after he left the private clinic to start a private practice specializing in trauma recovery. Dr. Williams became increasingly involved with a local trauma recovery and addictions residential treatment center for adults, first as consulting psychologist and then as clinical director. He also served as a child abuse group therapist through the Pebble Project in Austin.
In 1992, Dr. Williams joined the Federal Bureau of Prisons, working with female inmates with addictions and trauma for 15+ years. His last 7+ years with the women's prison were spent proposing, creating and serving as coordinator of Trauma Treatment Programs. The success of the program he created resulted in his being named the Psychologist of the Year for the Bureau of Prisons.
Dr. Williams also hired a consultant to train staff and set up a neurofeedback training component. Neurofeedback services were then offered to several dozen inmates over a period of 2-3 years. No inmates completing this component are known to have returned to prison.
Dr. Williams then worked primarily in trauma recovery for the VA and US Army for a total of 11 additional years before retiring in November of 2018. Approximately 44,000 of Dr. Williams' 50,000+ total hours of clinical experience have been with trauma and its treatment.
Dr. Williams has completed over 1,525 hours of continuing education and has given another 27 local- to international-level presentations in suicide prevention, attachment, hypnotherapy and trauma recovery. He has mentored and supervised approximately 30 students and postdoctoral psychologists throughout his career, primarily focusing upon trauma treatment.