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BEDFORD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — After serving as an active-duty soldier in the U.S. Army, Dr. Peggy Steinbrunner opened a mental health facility in Everett aimed at helping people who are hurting.

“I think we have the greatest military in the world,” Steinbrunner said. “We want to keep them the greatest, so it’s important for them to learn how to be as well as possible and help them to recover and manage all the stresses of serving.”

Dr. Steinbrunner said her identity as a psychologist, soldier and mother makes her the woman she is, but she didn’t always think a soldier would have been among those words.

“If four years before my original commission someone would have told me I was going to be in the army I probably would’ve laughed,” Steinbrunner said.

Her journey of service started the way many others do, through a recruiter.

“The recruiter said, ‘and what do you do?’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m gonna be a psychologist.’ And he said, ‘Well we need those too,'” Steinbrunner recalled.

After that initial conversation and some consideration, she applied and was chosen for the Army’s Health Professions Scholarship Program. She worked at Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Georgia where she completed her pre and postdoctoral training as an active-duty psychologist starting in 2011.

“I say very often that the best people you will ever meet are service members, It really kind of solidified my love of working with soldiers.”

During her time at Eisenhower, she cared for the mental health of her fellow service members.

“The things that they have to do are very difficult,” Steinbrunner said. “From leaving their family frequently for training or deployments, to actually being in combat.”

After leaving active duty in 2016, Dr. Steinbrunner transitioned into serving in the Pennsylvania National Guard where she still serves. She returned back to her hometown of Everett to launch the clinic, Horizon Behavioral Health, in 2020. The clinic focuses on providing behavioral health and wellness services.

“Just realizing the lack of services and the need that is pretty obvious and evident,” Steinbrunner said. “That there just really aren’t providers that are really motivated to come to small areas.”

With suicide rates among active-duty service members on the rise, it’s the services that Dr. Steinbrunner provides every day that make a big difference locally and beyond.

“When you see somebody seem to get better, it’s rewarding to see that because you want to help everybody that you can and she does too,” said Tina Jesk, who is the Patient Services Coordinator at Horizon Behavioral Health.

At Horizon Behavioral Health, Dr. Steinbrunner is able to do what she said is her life’s mission: try to leave a space better than she found it.

“I hope that when people come here that we help them to do all the things that they need to do a little better,” Steinbrunner said.

In addition to working with the Everett Area Better Business Association, Bedford Professional Women’s Association, Bedford County Human Service Counsel and Bedford County Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Steinbrunner also advocates helping those who suffer from substance use disorders.

“Sometimes, their lives have completely fallen apart,” Steinbrunner said. “They don’t have custody of their kids. They’re not working. They might be homeless and they just start to rebuild their lives one step at a time.”

Dr. Steinbrunner’s advocacy extends into her community where she works with an overdose awareness and education group.

“It’s getting them into treatment,” Steinbrunner said. “Life-saving avenues such as naloxone and harm reduction programs.”

She does it all while inspiring the next generation of female leaders.

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“She kept up with motherhood as well as her army duties,” Dr. Steinbrunner’s mom, Shirley Stuckey, said. “Peggy is just so set on reaching her goals and helping other women reach their goals.”

“Being a remarkable woman has, I think, an added importance to me, maybe on top of being a remarkable person,” Steinbrunner said. “And I want to set that example for my daughters and I want them to stand on my shoulders as they go forward and do great things.”