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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Veteran Fights to Finish what He Started

May 29, 2013

Christian Phipps RESIZEDGulf War veteran, Christian Phipps, knows something about pain and loss. Repeated injuries to his back – including a T-bone collision with a car that ran a stop sign – along with many surgeries to various damaged vertebrae, have put him on the sideline of careers and life while he struggled to find his way back. He had high hopes in May, 2010 that the Bakersfield Clinical and Administrative Medical Assisting program would help him get there.

But after just 10-months as a CAMA student, the stresses of his classes, reoccurring PTSD and back problems caused him to withdraw from the program and, for a time, become a full-time patient. Christian knew right away that although leaving school was necessary, it wasn’t the right move. “After a few months I humbled myself to the faculty and asked to be re-admitted,” says Christian. “I wanted to complete what I started and did everything they asked to show this time would be different.” His application was finally approved and his ‘start date’ was January 27th.

On January 26th Christian was assaulted, while riding his bike, and knocked unconscious. After a long night in the Emergency Room, he showed up for the first day of his afternoon program. “I told myself that as long as I’m here, can breathe and walk, and there are no visible signs of blood, nothing will keep me from obtaining my goal,” says Christian. “I had to work to get to get the OK to come back to school, and I appreciated this second chance.”

Christian has focused his determination and commitment to another area important to him, as well. As an Army veteran, Christian is very aware of other veterans who are struggling to resume civilian life, find out about educational opportunities and settle in to a career. Christian wants to start a veteran’s resource service that will help those who are interested in continuing their education, and he is exploring starting such a Veteran’s Student Body Club on campus. “I’d like to reach out into the community to let vets know about what is available to them, such as the Veteran’s Rehabilitation Assistance Program (VRAP),” he says, which can provide education financial assistance for up to 12-months. Talks are underway with SJVC representatives.

Christian sees his career future linked to the Veteran’s Healthcare Administration and a timeline that supports his vision. “With troops returning from Afghanistan in 2015 there will be a need for more professionals at every level to provide medical care and administrative support,” says Christian. He wants to help other veterans in any way he can. “Whatever department needs the most help is the direction I will go in,” he says. “It’s almost like I want to serve again,” says Christian. “By serving them, I am serving my country again.”

The life lesson isn’t missed on Christian’s 13-year old daughter, Kieran. “She is ‘Daddy’s Girl’ and the love of my life,” says Christian. “And, I know she is extremely happy for me.”

Looking back on all they have had to endure to get to this point, Christian sees only the bright side. “What a great story this will be at my graduation.”


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