“When my parents immigrated from Korea and the Dominican Republic, they felt it was very important for the whole family to have a sense of civic duty and not to have an empty patriotism. In many ways the military was an expectation for me. I joined a reserve special operations capable airborne unit called Anglico. While in the reserves, I obtained my degree from Norwich Military College in Vermont before getting recruited by the Coast Guard as an officer during the war on drugs. My mom passed away while I was in the Coast Guard so I decided to transition out after taking time off to care for her. I attended Yale University and studied philosophy, religion, and the psychology of religion. I felt empowered by my mom’s death to pursue a higher level of purpose and calling so I chose a monastic religious life for my future. I took vows in 2001, but several years later I left the Dominican Order order in good standing. By that time, I had completed clinical training in psychoanalysis and worked at different mental health facilities. With that experience, I started working at a Vet Center in Long Island where I counseled the first wave of troops coming back from Iraq. In 2007 during the surge, the Army was opening up huge recruitment opportunities for older veterans like myself and I felt compelled to do more after working with those troops. I went back in and deployed to Iraq for a year. I didn’t sign an extended contract so after my year deployment I got out and returned to the VA. I retired in 2017 after 15 years of federal service and am now pursuing my doctorate at Columbia University to research veteran spirituality. I’m interested in continuing to serve veterans as a veteran. That fire is still within me and I’m very grateful for the many different opportunities I’ve had in my life.”
“Facing Stigma” with Mike K.
Posted: August 6, 2021