Name: HM3 Lara McKinley
Branch of Service: U.S. Navy
Deployment: Iraq / Kuwait
Wish: Getaway to Catalina
of Goal Raised
Description of Injury:
Kayaking off Catalina Island!
In 2003 I was deployed to the Northern Kuwait / Iraq border with the 1 MEF 4th LAR/4th MED in support of OIF. I was supporting the 1st Medical Battalion as a combat hospital corpsman. During that time I was regularly charged with assisting in casualty care for 14+ hours per day. We were treating and supporting combat forces as casualties and personnel with severe injuries were being medivaced into our care on a daily basis. We regularly received non-friendly forces with severe injuries as well. On more than one occasion, we had to make difficult decisions on who to treat as we had very limited aid available to us.
I was part of regular convoys to retrieve the wounded and on one particular occasion I was standing beside my ambulance as a bomb exploded. The residue of the blast knocked me to the ground and left me unconscious.
Since my time in the military I have a service dog, Corpsman, to help me recover from TBI and PTSD. I was diagnosed with breast cancer and can now call myself a survivor. In 2015 I went back to Chapman University in order to pursue my BA in Social Work with a Minor in Applied Psychology.
My family and I want to make a small getaway to a tiny island off the coast of Southern California. Catalina Island would be the perfect place for us to reconnect and enjoy quality time together. I am so thankful for the students and staff at Chapman University who have made it their mission to help fund this mini-vacation for us! Family time is most important .