For over a year, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel economics reporter John Schmid dug into some of Milwaukee’s most pressing social issues through the lens of trauma, including poverty, crime, and unemployment. The result of his groundbreaking deep dive is a five-part series, “A Time to Heal,” produced through a fellowship funded by the Sheldon B. Lubar Fund for Public Policy Research at Marquette University’s Law School.
Through his due diligence, Schmid came to know SaintA for its work in using trauma informed care to help individuals and families survive – and thrive – after adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
“We are grateful for John Schmid’s commitment to documenting the intersection of ACE science, trauma informed care and economics,” says Ann Leinfelder Grove, SaintA Executive Vice President. “It’s an honor to be part of bringing this important story to the public.”
SaintA experts, including Leinfelder Grove and the agency’s Chief Clinical Officer, Tim Grove, contributed background information and shared insights for the series. They also were a conduit, identifying Milwaukeeans willing to share with Schmid their stories of struggle and ultimately, resiliency.
Shattered Dreams Shatter Families
The purpose of the series is to explore the economic reality of Milwaukee, one of the nation’s most impoverished cities. To do that, Schmid spoke to a diverse cross-section of individuals, including some whose families originally moved north to Milwaukee in the 1960s to find work in its booming industries. That is until the boom went bust.
In his introductory piece, Schmid writes, “As jobs disappeared, so did many of the dreams that came with them. And . . . people and their families began to break.”
The Cycle of Trauma is Hard to Stop
Also in the introductory story, Schmid says that Milwaukee isn’t in economic disarray only due to the obvious factors – lack of jobs, high crime rates, and low graduation rates – but also because of generational trauma.
The families who began to break under financial stress sometimes became violent or started to simply neglect their children. As Schmid writes, “The seeds of distress were planted years ago when the current generation of adults were children. [Experts] say new seeds are being planted right now.”
It’s a phenomenon he calls the “epidemic of childhood trauma,” which dates back about a half a century in Milwaukee. But perhaps the bigger question Schmid sets out to answer is what can be done to end generational trauma – and what are the real costs if it can’t be stopped?
According to Leinfelder Grove, the initial response to Schmid’s first article was remarkable. “Readers were emailing and posting the story’s link to their colleagues across the country,” she says. “With the knowledge of what has happened in our communities – and why – we have the collective power to create a community conversation that focuses on healing.”
This story will be updated as the “A Time to Heal,” series unfolds Monday, March 27 through Thursday, March 30 at jsonline.com.
- From generation to generation: An epidemic of childhood trauma haunts Milwaukee.
- An intractable problem: ‘A lot of people don’t have a rainbow in their story.’
- ‘I’m defying the odds’: Healing invisible scars demands resilience, intervention, time.
- The unlikeliest neighborhood: Amid industrial ruins, a transformative strategy emerges.
- Lessons from history: Immigration was, is, and will be a source of renewal in Milwaukee.