Posts Tagged ‘BSN’

In 2005, Laura Gomez-Clinton learned that her husband, SSG Juan Hernandez, had been injured while serving in Iraq. She spent the next two years by his side as he recovered at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Though his physical wounds eventually healed, SSG Hernandez could not overcome his PTSD. He passed away in October 2009, leaving Laura to raise their children, Abby and Aaron.

Laura was suddenly a 26-year-old widow with two young children. She took the time to mourn, but quickly realized that she needed to take control of her life and provide for her children. She thought about the care and attention that her husband had received from the nursing staff at Walter Reed and decided that she, too, could offer that support to others.

In 2010, Laura enrolled in Emory University. With the assistance of a $3,000 Heartland 4 Heroes/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Laura is just a few months away from completing her Nursing degree. This May, she will graduate from Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing with her BSN.

Laura has excelled academically and has already been offered full-time employment in the Emergency Department of Spalding Regional Hospital and the OR at Emory University Midtown Hospital. She says, “The hardest part is behind me. I am so proud of my husband’s service and I know that he would be proud of what I have accomplished for our family. Knowing that I have the support of this scholarship means so much to me. Thank you!”

Laura is one of five scholars to receive the Heartland 4 Heroes/ThanksUSA scholarship for the 2013-2014 academic year. Heartland 4 Heroes and ThanksUSA will be holding their 2nd Annual Golf Tournament Fundraiser, in conjunction with Red Cloud Food Services, Inc. on April 7, 2014, at The Governor’s Club in Brentwood, Tennessee. 

Heartland 4 Heroes/ThanksUSA Scholarships benefit the spouses and children of those serving in the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army located at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.



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Victoria Whitmore

ThanksUSA Scholars are awesome! They excel academically, give back to their communities, and inspire others. This week’s featured scholar, Victoria Whitmore, represents all of these qualities and more. Tori received a $3000 ESA Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship for her Nursing studies at Hardin-Simmons University. Tori has always excelled academically, but when she sought guidance about college and career choices, she was given the standard, “anything you put your mind to” advice. She considered poli-sci, but soon discovered that it wasn’t a good fit . Tori explains, “I wanted to do something hands-on, something that maximized my desire to restore, something that almost always resolved, and something that gave me the autonomy to make some of my own decisions. Nursing provided these opportunities.”

As she completes her junior year of studies, Tori considers her first career move. “As it stands, I hope to begin my career with the Veterans Affairs, or VA, hospital system. Although my Dad (CPT Eric Whitmore, USAF) was in and out of the service throughout my elementary and junior high years, I was immersed into the military community when mid-high school he was stationed in the Far East. Not just an island, but an island off of the island (that is, Okinawa). The sense of isolation soldiers and their families’ experience there can swallow a person and drive them to obsessive and intense workouts, substance abuse, or one another. As the chaplain’s daughter, I really only had one option. I found comfort by befriending those who suffered as I did and who, on an island 70×7 miles, would be those I saw daily at school, church, and in our neighborhood.

I’ve learned that our geriatric population also falls prey to isolation as their senses deteriorate and they spend more time in solitude. Those soldiers who returned home post-Vietnam and were met with resistance are particularly at risk and often don’t access their due benefits because of their distrust of the feds or the colossal amounts of so-called red tape. Who can reach them? Those who have suffered as they have.

I can’t pretend to have experienced the same events that veterans have undergone. But a community unlike any other I’ve encountered exists between those who have lost or feared loss in association with the US military; multiple times in complete strangers I have discovered old friends. As a nurse, I have the opportunity to stay connected with this community, while reducing suffering in all its expressions.”

Katie & Tori Whitmore

Though she didn’t realize it at the time, growing up in a military family prepared Tori for many aspects of college life. “I was very fortunate to have a father whose specialties in the USAF allowed him to be transferred to very diverse locations. Because he began his career as an enlisted broadcaster, he had a late start to the chaplaincy, which slowed his ranking as an officer. He was less “valuable” in terms of assignment placements so was more apt for getting those he was interested in. Thus, I spent roughly half of my life in overseas assignments in Portugal, Holland, and Japan.


Although I enjoyed the opportunities to explore the world through my father’s military career, I found that moving became more difficult as I grew older and tried to develop more meaningful relationships. Entering junior high in southwestern Oklahoma was no easy task and uprooting to Japan once settled was a huge hit. Texans just can’t do without their Friday night football and marching band!”

When she first entered Hardin-Simmons University, Tori immediately looked for ways to incorporate her global views and understanding into her college experience. Along with her sister, Katie, she became part of the International Student Fellowship. “The next year as the event coordinator, I was planning projects to introduce the Chinese Malaysians to cattle ranching and the cattle ranchers to Chinese New Year. Both were successful!”

Tori Whitmore with members of Hardin-Simmons International Student Fellowship

Tori also looked for a way to give back to the local community. She visited several churches and eventually found a special ministry which primarily served the homeless, impoverished, and underprivileged. Tori began volunteering with the kindergarten and first grade Sunday School class and after several weeks of assisting, the lead teaching position became available. Tori says, ” Here, on a golden platter, was my place of service. I look forward to seeing “my kids” every week!”

Next year, Tori will graduate from Hardin-Simmons with her BSN and will begin to serve others as a Registered Nurse. ThanksUSA is confident that Tori will make an excellent nurse and we look forward to bringing our supporters updates on her academics and future career. In closing, Tori delivers a special thank-you to the ESA Foundation for sponsoring her ThanksUSA scholarship:

“Many scholarships are available for first-year college students and then expire. Having faced my second year with significantly reduced financial aid, I was extremely concerned about entrance into nursing school in my third year. The ThanksUSA scholarship I received not only covered costs comparable to my $2,000 textbooks, but also my uniforms and other specialty equipment needed for the field. As a person who takes my studies very seriously, it’s a huge relief to be able to spend more time focusing on them and less time at the workplace to pay for school. Thank y’all so much!”

You can support students like Tori by making a $10 donation today…simply text THANKSUSA to 85944 to make your $10 donation.



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