Stepping Forward as an advocate for all U.S. veterans who protect the freedom and safety of the United States and who need healthcare benefit assistance is Chamberlain colleague Lisa Nucci, MBA, director of campus operations in Jacksonville. Lisa is no stranger to the veteran world. She is one herself, having served as a U.S. marine officer in the Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm in the 1990s.
After landing a teaching job out of college, Lisa quickly discovered her salary wasn’t commensurate with her skill set so she began to research other career options. “I was always good at leading people, planning, organizing and executing to exceed results” so it seemed a fit to join the U.S. Marine Corps. But not just any marine; Lisa had a higher calling and entered the program as a marine corps officer candidate.
Welcome to the Marines and Veteran Care
Intensity would be one way to describe her training. She learned the basics of being a marine and then went further to master the intricacies of being an officer. In the 10 years of both active and inactive service, Lisa moved up the ranks and at one time, served as captain of her command. Once her service duty concluded, she worked in various fields trying to find her niche. But it wasn’t until she was completing her master of business administration degree – a task that had been interrupted to serve her country – that she found higher education. Looking for an academic tutor, she met the director of enrollment at her college and thought this might be her calling – pairing a love of education with a job that required planning, leading and executing. She was quickly sold and has spent the better part of the last two decades in a higher-education role. At one point, though, Lisa had to take a break to care for her ailing father.
“I had to quickly learn how to maneuver the system and submit requests on his behalf so he could receive his home health, nursing and other services he earned as a veteran,” she remembered. “The task was daunting at times because we had to fight for services. He served during the Vietnam War but he wasn’t a service-connected veteran. I quickly learned how veterans were treated and where the gaps in care were, and that if you don’t have an advocate, you’re sitting on the sidelines and it’s terrible.”
Diving into the World of Patient Care
That eye-opening, firsthand experience led Lisa to research nursing and patient advocacy. Eventually it also led her to Chamberlain University in Jacksonville. “I was impressed by Chamberlain Care and the premise of practicing it with colleagues, the community and students. I’m in my dream job – I get to work with and help a lot of veterans.”
Lisa’s passion for veteran rights led her to join local Congressman and former Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s Veteran Advisory Board as a member of the subcommittee on healthcare. He and his colleagues are fighting for several veteran rights including those exposed to toxins during recent wars as well as those hurt or killed due to medical malpractice or misdiagnosis.
Fighting for Veterans
“I want to be able to influence law through my work with veterans,” Lisa said, mentioning that she personally receives Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare benefits. “I’ve had an excellent experience but that doesn’t happen with everyone so I want to close the gap. I try to connect veterans who have been ignored – those who don’t know where to turn – and connect them with resources to get them help.”
Lisa vividly remembers witnessing a veteran who had no legs and no home, and was circling a hardware store parking lot seeking help. It turns out he had applied for VA healthcare benefits 10 years prior but had been turned down. “We should be taking care of our veterans. They should all be receiving healthcare benefits. They should not have to fight for something that they’ve earned.” Lisa has pledged to continue making a difference for all those who have served our country.
By Heather L Hurtado
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