Alumnae/i Feature

Serving Those Who Served: Eli Lorenzo's Dedication to Veteran Care

Eli Lorenzo

“The [Trauma Practice Certificate] program challenged me to think about how I would handle different clinical situations and why. I graduated feeling prepared and confident.”

Eliezer “Eli” Lorenzo ’23MSW is a case manager for a new practice framework at VA Boston Health Care called Care Coordination and Integrated Case Management (CCICM). Through phone calls and home visits, Lorenzo reaches out to veterans who have a history of complex medical and case management needs yet no longer receive VA services. He identifies the veterans’ healthcare priorities and works to re-engage them by coordinating a comprehensive plan of care that includes medical and behavioral health services. Lorenzo also manages referrals to VA resources such as housing support.

Having served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, Lorenzo brings a profound understanding to the challenges that his clients face. “I see a lot of depression, anxiety, PTSD,” he says. “The veterans feel withdrawn and disconnected.” The goal of the program’s seamless approach is to improve healthcare access and outcomes, with an emphasis on reducing ER visits and hospitalizations and enhancing social and emotional wellbeing.

Lorenzo, who collaborates with a multidisciplinary CCICM comprehensive care team, describes their mission as critical: “We’re putting resources in place before the veteran ends up in a worse situation.”

On Choosing Simmons

Before his deployment to Afghanistan as a combat medic, Lorenzo had worked as a researcher and paramedic. However, a debilitating back injury sustained in the line of duty left him unable to return to his civilian job. This setback led Lorenzo to explore a career in social work, where he could apply his undergraduate psychology degree and strong interest in mental health and trauma. Lorenzo was drawn to Simmons’ School of Social Work for its well-established clinical program. “Simmons had a great reputation for preparing students for success,” he says. He also appreciated its diverse learning environment, comprised of students “from all walks of life.”

How Simmons Prepared Him

Lorenzo, who arrived at Simmons with the goal of working with veterans, enrolled in the Social Work Trauma Practice Certificate program. He benefitted from the small class size at Simmons, where his professors knew him and class discussions were lively. “There was a camaraderie around learning,” he says. For his first placement, Lorenzo interned at Casa Esperanza, a bilingual behavioral health clinic that serves Boston’s Latinx community. He conducted one-on-one therapy and facilitated groups as well as provided case management. His second placement was in the Grant and Per Diem Program at VA Boston Health Care. There, he coordinated transitional housing and support services for veterans experiencing homelessness. In addition, Lorenzo was active in the Simmons chapter of Student Veterans of America and collaborated with Associate Professor Abbie K. Frost, PhD, on research about veterans without housing or VA support (he currently continues on the project as a research associate). “The program challenged me to think about how I would handle different clinical situations and why,” he says. “I graduated feeling prepared and confident.”

Why the work is meaningful

“Our goal is to reach out to as many veterans as possible and to make sure they receive all the services they deserve,” says Lorenzo. “To open those doors for veterans is very gratifying. As my motto goes, ‘The tour ended, but the mission continues. No one is left behind.’”

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