Before deploying to Iraq with the 1st Infantry Division near Tikrit in 2004, Chris had thought electromechanical engineering would be his field. His goals shifted because of his experience on a recovery team in Iraq and some first aid training he received. He called his friend, NVF Counselor Eric Buss, for help on his applications to medical school.
It had taken several attempts at getting back into school before he had the traction that earned his 3.9 GPA at UCLA and high scores on the MCAT. He’d been a good student before the Army, but afterward he lacked focus. Transitioning back from combat presented its own set of issues. “I had some anger and anxiety issues, but it wasn’t too severe.” Like many vets, he started to self-medicate, “and that quickly got out of control.”
Towards the end of a 6-month residential treatment program for OEF/OIF Vets on the VA campus in Los Angeles, he started an EMT course at UCLA. He moved to veterans transition housing for a year, finished the EMT course and started at Santa Monica College. “Student Veterans of America was helpful in forming a network of people like me, older Veterans (22+) returning to school. The Veterans Club was especially gratifying because I was able to share what I had learned about returning home from war and adjusting to life as a civilian.”
“For the past four years I have excelled in a demanding scientific course load, majoring in Physiological Science and minoring in Biomedical Research.” Chris is now deciding among several medical schools. His story shows the importance of vet-to-vet connection and what can happen if treatment and housing options are available to help vets rebuild their lives. Often that connection starts with an NVF Counselor on our LifeLine for Vets, 888.777.4443.
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The worst part of war should not be coming home.