After I graduated from high school in 2002, I joined the Army Reserve as a Cargo Specialist (88H). Unfortunately, I was injured in Basic Training and my injuries were not diagnosed until Advanced Individual Training, and I was unable to deploy to Afghanistan with my unit. I was discharged in 2005 under conditions other than honorable (OTH) and now suffer from permanent disabilities affecting my feet/ankles, knees, and back. My compensation claim was pending with the VA for over four years before receiving assistance via connections I made through the Women Veterans Alliance. I now also suffer from a severe depressive disorder, a recurrent anxiety disorder, and a panic disorder.
I’ve been through a lot of tough things as a result of being injured in the Army and receiving a “bad” discharge – financial and housing problems that continue to this day. I used to think I didn’t deserve to be called a veteran and hid my service because of the shame I carried from getting hurt so early on and not deploying during such a crucial time.
I didn’t have access to my G.I. Bill because of my discharge, but I was able to use VA Vocational Rehabilitation to complete my bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Political Science at the University of California, Davis. During that time, I met fellow veterans who not only supported me but also inspired me to keep striving for the things I want in life. I worked for UC Davis and used my position as an analyst and adviser in Undergraduate Admissions for over four years and now continue to advocate for veterans and military in all of public higher education as Operations Program Manager for Service to School.
I struggle every day – psychologically and physically – with the fact that I am in my thirties and permanently disabled. I often think it was all for nothing. But serving my brothers and sisters in arms in the small ways that I can is one of the larger goals in my life that keeps me going.