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A war hero continues to serve others

Oyoana Allende became an occupational therapist after suffering severe injuries in Iraq
By Laura Aka
November 30, 2020

Extraordinary circumstances inspired Oyoana Allende to become an occupational therapist. Allende was serving in the Marine Corps in Iraq in 2005 when her convoy was hit by a suicide bomber. She underwent extensive medical treatment, including reconstructive surgeries and occupational therapy sessions.

Allende credits Operation Mend for being instrumental in her recovery. “They help military service members or veterans with surgeries or constructive surgeries, medical treatments. They have programs for mental health targeted to the military veterans, but also to their families.”

Receiving occupational therapy helped Allende be able to do things for herself. “It was great to be able to be as independent as I could during the recovery process,” she says.

Allende returned to school to get her college degree and a Master’s in occupational therapy. “I’ve worked at two different hospitals. I worked in the acute care setting. I work with people that are recovering from hip surgery to heart transplant, lung transplants.”

“I help people to be able to be as independent as they can with their new condition – to where they’re recovering. To be able to be as independent with their self-care, and be able to do what they need to do.”

With her rewarding career in Texas, Allende says others should not be hesitant to seek out post-military services.

She says, “I know that can be very difficult because one might think, ‘Well, you were in the military, you could be strong. If you were able to go to war, then you should be able to face life after the military.’ But that’s not the case. It’s not always the case. So I think that having the courage to seek that help, I think that’s what helped me.”

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