Once a self-proclaimed troubled teen living at Toussaint Academy, today Laura is proudly serving our country. Looking back at the year and a half she spent at TASD from 2002 to 2003, Laura, 23, describes her experience both fondly and with blatant honesty. “That place was like Disneyland to me, compared to being at home,” she says. “When I was in TASD I was a total disaster, I had a lot of emotional issues – they helped me a lot.” Despite enduring an abusive childhood, Laura says she learned that everything happens for a reason, including finding TASD. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them,” she says. She particularly misses the staff, because “they are just like my parents in a way.”
In fact, TASD staff members were the first to send her a care package when she arrived with her Army unit in Iraq in August 2009. Living in a tent that was barely equipped with a place to sleep, Laura was grateful to get sheets, shampoo and other basic necessities to tide her over until she could visit the larger surrounding camps for supplies.
Her official title in the service is health care specialist, but she says she does the duties of a combat medic. In Iraq, she supported humanitarian missions, worked in clinics and helped teach Iraqi soldiers first aid and basic medical skills. While she did not initially want to be a medic, she says that she has learned to love her job and appreciate the skills that it has allowed her to obtain. If Laura decides to leave the Army, she is fully certified to work as an emergency medical technician. However, she has no plans to leave any time soon. In July 2010, she celebrated her second anniversary in the service. “I had wanted to join the military since I was young,” she says. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I joined the Army; I just knew I wanted to be a soldier.”After returning from Iraq in June 2010, Laura was stationed in Kansas. While she is considering re-enlisting and applying for nursing school, Laura said she is mostly looking forward to spending more time with her daughter.
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