Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Degree Student
Class of 2016
Military Branch: US Army
Years Served: 4.5
What prompted you to return to school?
I spent four and a half years in the Army. I deployed to Afghanistan as a combat medic, and spent my deployment patrolling in combat situations. My deployment affected me tremendously both physically and emotionally. After western medicine failed me I began searching for other healing modalities, and found natural medicine- including Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. I always knew that I was meant for the medical field, but wasn't sure where. The amount of healing I was able to achieve through Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine prompted me to look for a school and enroll. I knew for the first time in my life what my calling was, and had a tremendous need to learn more about it and share it with others.
Why did you choose AOMA?
My first acupuncture experiences were from people who had attended AOMA, and they were fabulous!!! They encouraged me to check it out. After spending a lot of time searching for/researching schools, it became apparent that AOMA was one of the best schools for Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, and here I am...
What military education benefits, such as the GI Bill, did you use while attending?
I am currently using the Vocational Rehabilitation program through the VA. It is a program much like the GI bill, but is only for medically retired/disabled veterans. It is an outstanding program.
What has your experience been like as a student?
For the most part my experience has been phenomenal. I love the campus, the administration has been more supportive and helpful than I ever could have imagined, all of the teachers/doctors have exceeded my expectations, and most of the student body has been accepting and become a family to me. Going to school this time has been different than before I deployed- I definitely have some different cognitive functioning, and it has taken some time to figure things out and adjust to how my brain works now.
What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?
My biggest advice is be kind to yourself, and give yourself grace. Some of the discoveries I made about my personal learning process were hard and unexpected- take them in stride, and understand that the school admin knows and understands these things happen, and are there for you. Give yourself room to make adjustments and get to know the scholarly side of yourself again, because it probably won't be the same. Don't be afraid to ask for help or make changes. It is important for you to understand that school in itself can trigger stress responses because it is so challenging at times- if you are prepared for this ahead of time you will be able to deal with it in a much better way. Also, give the same grace to your classmates, they can't ever understand what you've been through or how different you may be, and you should never expect them to. Be proud of what you have done and who you are, embrace your experience and knowledge, and use it to be an outstanding practitioner.
What challenges and rewards have you experienced while working with military and veteran populations in clinic?
I have only observed [in clinic] thus far, but my strong advice would be to make sure you get acupuncture once a week and take herbs. Take care of yourself, take care of your health needs- especially if you have PTSD or anxiety. I would also recommend staying connected with a social worker or counselor. Situations will arise in clinic that may take you to a place you don't want to go- if you are taking care of yourself and your needs, it will be easier to stay present and focused and deliver a good treatment. Use your ability to relate and experiences to your advantage- your clients will be able to respond to you in a way they couldn't to a civilian, and you will be able to understand them better than a civilian could if they struggle from the same issues. It is incredibly rewarding to see another veteran or trauma victim helped and healed using our medicine, there are few better feelings in the world than seeing someone walk in or out of clinic feeling better than they ever could have imagined! This is a powerful medicine for us, and now is the time to share it. I am honored to be a part of something so great.
Watch a video interview with Tasha