Countless Pacific University students and alumni have committed their lives to the service of their country with the U.S. Armed Forces.Wanda Laukkanen | Writer
He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in clinical laboratory sciences online from the University of Cincinnati.
The military, he said, adjusted his schedule to allow him to gain the lab experience required by the program.
He is using Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, along with Pacific’s Yellow Ribbon Program — a supplement to help veterans afford private institution tuition — to pay for his schooling. In addition, he is benefiting from a new grant recently received by the School of Physician Assistant Studies to train military veterans for careers as physician assistants and to train PAs who will serve rural areas.
“No other school I applied to had the financial aid program that Pacific has,” Bradley said. “It is amazing.”
He is looking forward to the five clinical rotations in rural settings that are part of the new rural healthcare track within the PA program, he said, explaining that in small communities, PAs are the first line of medical care.
Military veterans were, of course, receiving education benefits even before the 2009 Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Marji Burniston ’98, OT ’01 and Carol Rymer O.D. ’92 both had military assistance in earning their educations at Pacific — and both are using their Pacific degrees to serve in healthcare positions in the Army today.
Burniston joined up in 1983, a year after graduating from high school in Redmond, Ore. She spent 13 years as an Army mechanic, serving in Germany and Korea, as well as on domestic bases.
At the time, she said, the military was just a way to escape living paycheck to paycheck in a small town.
“I knew the Army was only a stepping stone for me, a secure fun place of employment until I figured out what I wanted to be when I grow up,” she said.
After 13 years, she left the military and came to Pacific, earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology, at age 35, then a master’s degree in occupational therapy.
“Once I made the transition back into the civilian world, into the world of a full-time college student, I loved it. I loved every minute of it,” she said.
She worked in the private sector for five years before re-joining the Army.
“Wow, Army life was very different from that I knew 10 years before,” she said.
She is the occupational therapy clinic chief at Moncrief Army Community Hospital at Fort Jackson, S.C. However, she is due to deploy to Afghanistan this spring for a nine-month tour of duty, likely at the Concussion Care Center, where she would work with soldiers who have sustained mild to moderate traumatic brain injuries.
“We rotate into various positions which may require us to specialize in that role,” she said. “We find ourselves constantly treating ‘outside the box,’ creating very specific treatment plans and interventions to a very specific need.”
“We have treated amazing injuries, illnesses and mental health conditions that are not typical nor common to the civilian patients seen outside the Army.”
Carol Rymer, meanwhile, joined the Army after her first year of optometry school at Pacific, when military scholarships for optometry students were suddenly reactivated in 1988.