A boost in funding to a local nonprofit organization could benefit Barstow soldiers and veterans.

The Board of Supervisors increased its contract with the Claremont-based nonprofit Trauma Resource Institute by $145,892 to provide the service.

The move boosts overall funding for the organization from $680,000 to $825,892. The county signed the original contract in 2010.

The group's therapy model called the Community Resiliency Model focuses on the biological basis of trauma, rather than talking about traumatic experiences like more traditional forms of therapy would, according to the organization's website.

The program is funded under the Mental Health Service Act, a 2005 ballot proposition that instituted a 1 percent tax on people with incomes over $1 million to fund mental health services. Part of the law is designed to fund programs that are considered innovative or unusual, in the hopes of learning more about effective mental health treatment, said Lynn Neuenswander, public information officer for the county Department of Behavioral Health.

Mariann Ruffolo, Mental Health Service Act coordinator for the Department of Behavioral Health, said the training was designed to help people who may come in contact with veterans who have experienced trauma.

People like pastors and Veterans Administration workers may encounter veterans in need of help but lack the professional training to know how to best serve them, Ruffolo said. If these community members respond appropriately, they can help the veteran seek all necessary treatment, Ruffolo said.

The Department of Behavioral Health will provide support services for the Trauma Research Institute, Ruffolo said.

Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt said in a written statement that the training provided an important service to the county's 120,000 veterans.

"This training will help veterans to recognize potential problems in their colleagues and help them implement personal strategies to handle those problems," Mitzelfelt said.

The organization primarily serves disaster victims around the world, but also works with veterans in San Bernardino County. The organization has ongoing projects in Gaza, Kuwait and Kenya, among others, and has helped trauma victims in Haiti recover from the country's devastating earthquake in Jan. 2010.

Co-directors Elaine Miller-Karas and Laurie Leitch were en route to Haiti Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

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(760) 256-4126 or spearson@desertdispatch.com