Students on the USAHS campus in St. Augustine, Florida, led by Flex Master of Occupational Therapy (Flex MOT) student Lureida Soto, were inspired to form an organization to support student veterans and family members of veterans and active-duty military. What began as the FLSA Student Veterans Club in fall 2021 has grown into a chapter of the Student Veterans of America, a nationwide organization with 1,500 chapters representing 750,000 student veterans in 50 states and four countries.
The USAHS chapter’s mission is to promote active participation of healthcare student veterans and family members through support, resources, networking opportunities, professional development workshops and community outreach events during and after educational pursuits in health sciences.
“Many times we, as military-affiliated students, feel lost when trying to use our military benefits and scholarships, and we do not know where to reach out for help when we encounter personal, professional or academic challenges,” says Soto.
“Forming this student organization and having a support team of like-minded individuals makes us feel that we have an occupational balance to succeed as USAHS graduate students and future clinicians.”
Soto was born and raised in Puerto Rico. At the age of 20, she enlisted in the United States Coast Guard through the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative Program (CSPI). After six years of military service, she became a civilian and is now in her seventh term of the Flex MOT program.
To form the group, Soto and fellow students worked with Instructor Kelli Cabrera, OTD, OTR/L, CHT, who prior to joining USAHS in 2021, was an active-duty occupational therapist in the United States Air Force. Dr. Cabrera was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, where she worked in the outpatient orthopedic clinic and the inpatient hospital. During this time, Dr. Cabrera helped establish the hospital’s first pain clinic, breast cancer rehabilitation program, Special Operations injury prevention program and mental health wellness classes. She worked closely with the Thunderbirds and provided ergonomic assessments for the HH-60 helicopter crews.
“The USAHS FLSA Student Veterans Club’s vision is to assist in establishing Student Veterans Club chapters at all the University campuses and operate as one entity,” says Dr. Cabrera. Leaders have presented the SVA’s vision and mission at all USAHS campuses to connect with student veterans and others who are interested in forming a chapter on their campus.
The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) offers hands-on Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) and Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degrees. Join a collaborative cohort of peers who learn under the mentorship of expert faculty-practitioners. Practice with mock patients in our state-of-the-art simulation centers and learn anatomy with our high-tech tools. Prepare for clinical practice with patients across the lifespan. The OTD program includes a capstone project and additional coursework in practice leadership and policymaking. Residential (online coursework + in-person labs on weekdays) and Flex (online coursework + in-person labs on weekends) formats are available.
The entry-level occupational therapy master’s degree (MOT) programs on the San Marcos, California; St. Augustine and Miami, Florida; and Austin, Texas, campuses and the entry-level occupational therapy doctoral degree (OTD) programs on the San Marcos, California; St. Augustine and Miami, Florida; Austin and Dallas, Texas, campuses are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is 301-652-AOTA, and its web address is www.acoteonline.org. Visit USAHS MOT Accreditation and OTD Accreditation for more information.