Seneca Pender - Fellow
There's a tradition of military service in Seneca Pender's family. He says he always wanted to enlist and finally did so two years after leaving high school. He was deployed to Iraq from March 2007 through August 2008, where he served as an Army medic with the 2nd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division from Ft. Stewart, GA.
Following his discharge, Pender began pursuing a degree in psychology. He learned about the paid fellowship with Congressman David Cicilline in Pawtucket, RI, through a campus organization. Pender applied and was selected to fill the job as a veterans case worker.
Pender's duties include staffing veterans’ events for the Congressman and working with the local Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) office to assist homeless veterans and returning service members. One of Pender's biggest challenges in his current role is explaining the VA backlog to veterans who have been waiting endlessly to receive benefits. The job's biggest reward? Meeting so many different individuals and organizations offering help to veterans and active duty personnel.
As an Army combat medic, Pender learned the importance of preparation. “I never wanted to be in a situation where someone’s life depended on me and I wasn’t prepared," he says. "I think when you are immersed in an environment where dying and being seriously injured are significant realities; the idea of being prepared becomes a makeup of who you are. At least it has for me.”
Pender hopes to complete his master’s degree in social work in December 2013. Ultimately, he hopes to have a career as a social worker in the VA hospital.