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SCU Honors our Veterans

SCU Honors our Veterans

Every day, but especially on Veterans Day, we acknowledge and honor those who have put on a uniform to serve our country.

At SCU, we are committed to embracing diversity and persons of every background. We honor the efforts of the countless veterans whose service experience is varied and personal to each individual.

To celebrate Veterans Day, we’re honored to highlight the following SCU student and faculty veterans by sharing with you some of their stories.  

SCU DC Student Joe Rivera, during his service days, serving in the U.S. NavyWE SALUTE SCU STUDENT VETERAN: JOE RIVERA

SCU DC Student 

U.S. Armed Forces service branch: U.S. Navy

Joe’s Service Story

“I wanted to leave my hometown and see what the world had to offer, I had this sense of adventure in me, not sure where it came from, but all I knew is that I wanted to get out there and do something. Also, I knew I wasn’t the college type, I mean I had good grades, but I wasn’t ready to go to a university and focus on a career after high school. My grandfather on my mother’s side served in the US Navy during WW2 and would tell me stories about his time in, and I was intrigued by them. Finally, I wanted to stand on my own two feet and say I could do it on my own.”

Where did you serve the majority of your time in service?

“After basic training in Great Lakes, Illinois, I was soon stationed out of Norfolk, Virginia on the USS Enterprise. I spent 5 years there, then finished out my career at Portsmouth Naval Hospital until January 2008.”

Did you receive any awards or honors?

“My most notable medal is my Navy Achievement Medal, received on Oct. 15, 2007.”

What were your most memorable connections?

“My everyday shipmates and friends while I served were special to me. I am still friends with them today. While on deployment circa 2004, Ben Affleck came aboard my ship, a short time later Robin Williams, Wrestler Kurt Angle, and some others I can’t remember.”

Was there anything or anyone that helped you during the transition from military to civilian life? And what advice do you have for others transitioning out of the military?

“I did not have much guidance besides counselors who made sure you are ready to depart from military life. I thought I had it all figured out. I had lots of advice; I would say make sure you have a plan and a backup plan. You never know what circumstances may arise. Ask lots of questions, it doesn’t matter if you upset anyone or ruffle feathers. This is your life and your career, the more you know the better. Check all paperwork prior to leaving and make sure the military signed every important document. If your plan is to work or go to college, do your research first. Make sure the career you have chosen is really the best option for you. Make sure your finances are in order and you have proper living conditions set up. Remember to learn from everyone, even the ones that you dislike. Every encounter is a learning situation. Be proud but also be humble and have an eagerness to learn and an open mind.”

Joe Rivera, SCU DC StudentWhat inspired you to begin your career in healthcare after the military?

“My last duty station was Portsmouth Naval Hospital, in Virginia. I was sent to physical therapy for chronic knee pain. Upon receiving therapy, I asked questions and fell in love with what I saw. Also working in the hospital and visiting wards daily as an IT I got to see multiple jobs/careers up close. I knew what I didn’t want, and I knew what I did want. Eventually focusing on getting my Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Life had other plans and I fell into SCU by chance and since then have never looked back.”

What are some of your hopes for the future, and how to you plan to use your degree from SCU?

“I hope to be the best I can be for my patients. One thing about me is that I truly care about people. I know what it’s like to be in pain and seeing the smiles of relief on a patient is its own reward. I plan to own and operate my own clinic and work with anyone who walks through the door, does not matter what they look like or where they came from. Everyone deserves to live a healthy, pain-free life and I want to offer that.”

 


SCU DC Student Rodolfo Rascon, during his time serving in the U.S. Marine Corps

WE SALUTE SCU STUDENT VETERAN RODOLFO RASCON

SCU DC student

Branch of U.S. Armed Forces service: U.S. Marine Corps

Rodolfo’s Service Story

“I joined the military because I believed in serving my family and my country. The first is the instinctive impulse to protect family and make sure nothing bad ever occurs to them. Young children should be focusing on toys and practicing sports, not thoughts of that sort.

I remember TVs at school started to turn on around eight in the morning; they didn’t usually turn on all at once, but this time felt different. A school full of children observed the twin towers collapsing that September morning. Every channel broadcast news of the attack on our nation. This was one of the biggest attacks on American soil since Pearl Harbor. I was afraid, as were my friends, family, and neighbors. Everyone in our small New Mexico town was on high alert that day, but it was also a time of unification since everyone had the same goal: to catch whoever did this.

In the months that followed, we didn’t just study; we also practiced for bomb and active shooter situations. I made a promise that when I grew up, I would serve my country to stop anyone from ever hurting our nation again because I did not want anyone to feel that terror.

Because I was not a U.S. resident at the time, getting there was a difficult and lengthy process, but I persevered and eventually succeeded. I waited quietly and patiently. I would like to give thanks to God for my success and the desire I had to do something greater than myself for others. My legal status was granted to me during the summer following my junior year of high school. The majority of people rejoice and are ecstatic, but I headed right to the Marine Corps Recruiting Office. In 2007, I enrolled during my senior year of high school, and two weeks after I finished, I headed out to boot camp for the Marine Corps.

During the nearly ten years I devoted to serving my country, I made many friends, accomplished things I had never imagined humanly possible, and traveled to and experienced places and cultures I would never have known. But my objective was achieved. Because the folks back home mattered to me and their safety was the most crucial factor, I heeded to the call to action. I went about precisely doing that for several years, assisting people wherever I went. It continues to be the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. It gave me drive, ambition, and motivation to work toward the goals I had established for myself. I proudly and respectfully served my nation, and if needed, I would do it again.”

Where did you serve the majority of your time in service?

“At Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and Camp Pendleton, California. I served with some of the best men and women I’ve ever known.”

SCU DC Student Rodolfo Rascon, during his time serving in the U.S. Marine CorpsDid you receive any awards or honors?

“Many daring people are rewarded with the highest accolades, and they are justifiably proud of themselves for receiving them. But what makes me the proudest is the honor I earned in Bakersfield, California, a little but mighty community. As a result of my community service, I was awarded a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition. That meant more to me than anything else. It was one of the best experiences of my life to be around individuals who cared for others.”

What were your most memorable connections?

“Though I had the chance to meet many excellent people while serving in the United States Marine Corps, there are three persons who specifically contributed to my development as a Marine. They talked to me, offered me suggestions, or scolded me when I was off. The most crucial aspect was that they showed up when it mattered.

  • I’ll always remember Sgt. Saenz, first and foremost. He was a natural leader who was beloved by all of his Marines. Whenever I needed advice or was angry, he would always find a way to support me.
  • Rodriguez, arrived in his dress uniform and looked sharp when I checked him in. I remember thinking this guy is going to be a good addition to the team. In times of mission, this man was the stern, by-the-book kind. But man, he was the best if you needed a joke to lighten the mood, a story to lift your spirits, or any other form of consolation under the most trying of circumstances. He always knew a man who would set you up if you couldn’t get what you actually needed.
  • The life of the party was Cpl. Villarreal. He was a confidant, friend, and jokester who you could always turn to when you wanted to get something off your mind or get something off your chest. He had all the answers in his head. You experienced a depressive state. He always reminded you of the people back home. He would always find a way to make everyone smile, no matter the situation.

All those who had the privilege of knowing these three Marines will always miss them. They were the best men I have ever had the privilege of knowing.”

Was there anything or anyone that helped you during the transition from military to civilian life and do you have any advice for others transitioning out of the military?

“There wasn’t a lot of assistance available for transitioning military personnel at the time I left the service. It was challenging because we were largely responsible for figuring out how to live independently of the military. The finest piece of advice I can give any veteran is to build a solid support system, whether it be a family, a military friend, or another veteran; don’t go it alone. I also offer suggestions on how to use the resources the VA now offers to aid with transition. Finally, develop a plan, set a goal, and persevere until you’ve reached it.”

What inspired you to begin your career in healthcare after the military?

“My enthusiasm for the healthcare field actually began after I met different doctors who weren’t interested in my injuries and encountered mismanagement of my own chronic pain. They didn’t pose the right inquiries. I had the impression that I was merely waiting to hear “next” on an assembly line. I then said that much like my motivation for joining the military, I couldn’t be the only one going through this. I asserted that action was required. So, I looked into holistic medicine, sought their care, and only then was I shown how a patient should be treated. It was what motivated me to pursue a career as a chiropractor.”

What are some of your hopes for the future, and how to you plan to use your degree from SCU?

“I intend to continue helping the veteran community and the Latino community in the future. My goal is to open a clinic where I can provide the best possible care for both communities. Every day, I converse with many members of my community, including veterans. Tell me about their medical care; I want to improve it and give them a fresh outlook on patient care and appropriate medical treatment. Because there are individuals in pain right now who depend on competent doctors who care about them, I won’t stop working until I accomplish the objective I’ve set.”

 


Dr. Michael Fanning, during his service days with the U.S. Air Force

WE SALUTE SCU FACULTY VETERAN DR. MICHAEL FANNING

Tactical Sports Medicine Lead Clinician, SCU Health System

Branch of U.S. Armed Forces service: U.S. Air Force

Dr. Fanning’s Service Story

“Joining the military was partially motivated by the events on 9/11 but mostly because I need to straighten myself out. I knew joining the military would give me discipline, accountability for my actions, a skill and education benefits. I just happened to stumble upon the TACP Field in Basic Training, which was a blessing.”

Where did you serve the majority of your time in service?

“The majority of my time was spent at Fort Benning in Georgia. Though much of my training took me throughout the United States, and two deployments to Iraq.”

Dr. Michael Fanning, during his service days with the U.S. Air ForceWhat were the most memorable and meaningful connections you made?

“I met a lot of great people, from diverse backgrounds and from all over the country who wanted to give back to their country.”

Was there anything or anyone that helped you during the transition from military to civilian life? And do you have any advice for others transitioning out of the military?

“Building a community. It does not need to be with other veterans, but that is helpful. Write. Writing helps process your thoughts and helps make sense of your time in the military.”

Dr. Michael FanningWhat inspired you to begin your career in healthcare after the military?

“While on my second deployment, I injured my wrist. I sought care multiple times but was not taken seriously. Eventually, I got an x-ray which showed a fracture of the scaphoid. And due to not being managed appropriately, the scaphoid became necrotic, and I was sent back to Georgia for surgery. I hated the feeling of not being listened to, and thought I could help fix that.”

 

 


Dr. Dan Handley during his service days in the U.S. Navy, pictured on the lower left.

WE SALUTE SCU FACULTY VETERAN DR. DAN HANDLEY

Program Director, Human Genetics and Genomics Department

Branch of U.S. Armed Forces service: U.S. Navy (submarine service). Dr. Handley is pictured on the lower left, in the group photo.

Dr. Handley’s Service Story

“I’ve always been interested in science and technology, and joined specifically for submarine duty as an electronics technician and nuclear propulsion reactor operator. I saw it as something few people have ever experienced and a position with great responsibility and potential for personal growth. For me, military service was also intended to be a stepping stone towards college and ultimately graduate school.”

Where did you serve the majority of your time in service?

“I spent the first two years of my service in electronics and nuclear engineering training. Graduating at the top of my class, I was chosen to serve as a nuclear reactor operations instructor. During the final part of my duty I was assigned to a fast attack submarine out of Charleston, SC.”

Did you receive any awards or honors?

“As the top student in my class in Electronic Technician ‘A’ School, I was awarded a letter of recognition. Later, in addition to being Qualified in Submarines and receiving a Good Conduct Medal, I received a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, a submarine squadron Citation for exemplary performance in the reactor controls division, and a submarine squadron Letter of Commendation for contributions to a mission ‘of great importance to the United States.’ Our ship also received the prestigious Battle Efficiency ‘E’ designation, for which I was awarded a Battle ‘E’ ribbon.”

Was there anything or anyone that helped you during the transition from military to civilian life? And do you have any advice for others transitioning out of the military?

“Directly out of the military, I attended Johns Hopkins University. The stark contrast in the two cultures required an extraordinary adjustment. Fortunately, I made many great friendships at Hopkins that still endure today. Those friends helped me make the transition from the military to academia.”

Dan Handley headshotWhat inspired you to begin your career in health care after the military?

“From my earliest memories, I had always known I wanted to be a scientist. Having a difficult family background, I knew I had to find my own path to reach my aspirations. Military service seemed to be the best option, even though it would extend the time required for me to achieve my ultimate educational goals.”

 

 

 


 

“We continue our work to provide veteran-friendly admissions and employment processes, to grow our campus services, to provide pathways into integrative, whole-person healthcare career opportunities, and to be a supportive and welcoming environment for all veterans,” said SCU President John Scaringe, DC, EdD. “To each of our veterans in the SCU community, we thank you! We appreciate your service and we value your contributions to our community through your military service, and throughout your lives.”

Veterans Day is an official University holiday, with campus closed on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. We sincerely you for your service, veterans!

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