Shaina Purser took a leap of faith in 2017 and applied for services at Hope For The Warriors during her family’s transition from Army life to civilian life. Amidst the normal challenges that military families face during such a significant lifestyle change, Shaina began to notice her husband, a 12-year flight paramedic, was off. “As time went on, cracks began to show,” she said. “At the time, I was very unfamiliar with the signs and symptoms of the invisible wounds of war.”
Then she found the support and care she needed in HOPE’s Critical Care Coordination and the Caregiver Resource Hub. With these resources, the support she received from HOPE staff and shared time with other caregivers, Shaina felt she could better identify as a caregiver, as well as adapt and grow to meet the needs of her warrior.
It is hard to say whether or not I would have been in a place to continue my education if it weren’t for the support of the organization and its members.
The support she received also allowed her to grow as a professional and inspired her to become a social worker. With a desire to advocate and connect caregivers and military families like herself to necessary resources and services, and to be a voice for the military and special needs population, Shaina applied and was accepted into the University of Southern California’s Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.
Just as she took a leap of faith in applying for services, Shaina reached out in faith in applying for HOPE’s Military Spouse and Caregiver Scholarship. Shaina was able to effectively portray her work ethic and passion for the social work field during the application and wrote two compelling essays that inspired HOPE’s Scholarship Committee. She was selected to win the Restoring Hope Scholarship for Master of Social Work students to support tuition cost in the Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 academic semesters.
Shaina shares this about receiving a scholarship:
|The financial assistance provided by Hope For The Warriors has substantially decreased the stress in trying to fund my education, which could have been a significant impediment in my academic success. There are considerable costs associated with pursuing a graduate-level degree. Without assistance, I would be graduating with an enormous amount of debt. This would have required me to focus on how I would repay loans, rather than focusing on a meaningful career. The personalities behind the scenes have also had a tremendous impact on my success. I can’t emphasize enough how much the Hope For The Warriors team has influenced me and my continued success within the program. Knowing that I have others who believe in me has given me hope and strength, even when times are rough. I have been overwhelmed with the level of support and care that has been provided by Hope For The Warriors.|
Shaina graciously shares her scholarship-winning essay that addressed finding one’s unique purpose in life through a quote by Kallam Anji Reddy, “Everyone has a purpose in life and a unique talent to give to others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exaltation of own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.”
|Purpose adapts. It reshapes, renews and rejuvenates. Purpose has the ability to mend and empower those who have faced adversity. The idea of purpose has been a topic of interest for psychologists and philosophers alike. Richard J. Leider, author of The Power of Purpose: Find Meaning, Live Longer, Better, notes that purpose is a mindset. My own interpretation of purpose is similar to that of Mr. Leider. My mindset, or my purpose, is to find meaning within my own trials and to turn them into a tool for social change. Meaningful goals develop throughout our lives. We may not know our purpose right from the start, but we have the opportunity to find it through our own experiences and to use these events to foster purpose and help change the lives of others. What creates a meaningful sense of purpose is in our connection with others who have traveled paths similar to our own. Each experience thus far has come with its own set of obstacles. However, each has also come with a unique set of gifts as well. Much like finding purpose, overcoming adversity is not a single event, but rather a process. As I experience hardships in my journey, I try to use each as an opportunity to grow. For me, each obstacle is a unique moment that I can use to reframe and embrace my experience in a way that will allow me to connect with and help others. While I have always known that I want to help people in some capacity, it is through the experience of military life that I found my true direction and purpose. Becoming a military spouse introduced me to the unique complexities of military culture and further illustrated the exceptional need within this community. Upon my husband’s separation from the Army, we became privy to the challenges that veterans, their caregivers, and their families face, not only in their transition to civilian life, but also in seeking assistance and navigating the benefits system. Our experience revealed the support military members, veterans, and their families so desperately need; instilling a passion and purpose to advocate on behalf of these populations. It has encouraged me to utilize my own experience as a strength and tool to help others. Some have tried to dissuade me from seeking both specialized educational pursuits and military-specific internship experience, noting that it may limit my number of opportunities. For me, it is not simply a matter of choosing what is considered the right thing, but rather, it’s a matter of choosing what is right for me. My purpose, upon the completion of my MSW, is to assist and empower the military community in whatever capacity I can. It is my goal to work with an organization that serves veterans, military members, and their families. I seek to provide services both in my career and in voluntary service. With my purpose in serving military populations, I seek to attain an education that will allow me to provide specialized services to this unique population. Finding purpose is not solely an educational pursuit. By using each experience as an opportunity to heal others, I have found my purpose in the people around me and my connection with military culture. I believe that my unique blend of passion, experience, and purpose will make me an effectual social worker. It is my goal and purpose to make meaningful change in the care that veterans and their families receive, both individually and on a macro level.|
Read Shaina’s next blog where she shares her tips and tricks for managing life as a full-time graduate student, caregiver, wife, mom, her internship and more.
HOPE’s Fall 2020 Spouse and Caregiver Scholarship Application Period is open from April 1 to May 31. To receive an application, apply for services at www.hopeforthewarriors.org.