For Trimester 2/3 student Christopher Ruppel, chiropractic was never part of his plan—that is, until his two tours to Iraq in 2007 and 2008. While there, the medical interactions he had with local Iraqi children opened his eyes to the options in health care and gave him a sense of purpose and fulfillment unlike anything he had experienced before.
“If you would have told me I was going to be anything other than a soldier when I was in high school, I would have most definitely laughed at you,” Christopher said.
And a soldier he was. Christopher spent seven years in the United States Army with the Recon Sniper section. In his two tours to Iraq, he went on 87 convoy logistic patrol missions and four reconnaissance and surveillance missions. He received multiple awards, including the Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and many others. In addition to his time spent in Iraq, he was also a combat lifesaver and was certified in land mine detection, counterterrorism and advanced ground fighting tactics.
Now, as a student of chiropractic, he is still dealing with the effects of combat. While in Iraq, Christopher was involved in nine improvised explosive device attacks. Previous injuries from these blasts are currently causing severe, chronic migraines, for which he must miss several days of class.
As a result, Christopher is currently in a split trimester and is thankful that Logan faculty and Sandy Periello, associate dean of student affairs, have been so accommodating and understanding. At the same time, Christopher is dedicated to serving his profession and is a member of the Student American Chiropractic Association (SACA) and the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) in addition to serving as Education Coordinator.
Christopher isn’t the only student at Logan in a split trimester due to challenges as a veteran. For Trimester 2/3 student Samuel Durbin, his biggest challenge has been balancing all of his responsibilities, including school, work and family (he recently married and has two kids, ages three and six.)
“The candle only has so many ends that you can burn,” Samuel said. “It’s hard to figure out when to quit studying and go home to have a home life.”
Samuel joined the Air Force in March 2006 and worked as a police officer in San Antonio for six years. While stationed at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, he was deployed three times—once to Afghanistan in 2007 and twice to Iraq in 2009 and 2011. He also spent a year each in Korea and Italy before voluntarily separating from active duty in May 2014. He is currently in the Air Force Reserve and works one weekend a month and two weeks a year conducting combat arms training and maintenance at Scott Air Force Base near Belleville, Ill.
Like Christopher, Samuel became interested in chiropractic during active duty, but for a different reason. Samuel had painful back problems after his last deployment in 2011 and sought chiropractic to alleviate the issue.
“When you’re bouncing around in vehicles and carrying 50 to 100 pounds of gear and supplies all the time, it’s inevitable that you will have back pain,” Samuel said.
Realizing its benefits, he began his chiropractic studies at Logan in January 2015, and he hopes that his job in the reserves and his job in chiropractic can overlap at some point, whether he’s researching, practicing sports rehabilitation or working with veterans directly.
Christopher wrestled and played football and baseball in high school; he also played rugby in college. He, too, would love for his future career as a chiropractor to be sports related. However, he’s also considering working for the Department of Veterans Affairs for a few years while saving to open his own practice. Regardless, he’s excited for the opportunity to fulfill his desire to help others.
Both Christopher and Samuel are proud of their time in the military and thankful for the opportunities it has given and will continue to give them. Because of their service and because they were injured in Iraq, each of them receives full tuition coverage.
For Samuel, those injuries allow him to better empathize with his patients.