Barton Fort Leavenworth student studies to ‘pay it forward’ as veterans’ counselor

March 3, 2017
Story and portrait by Brandon Steinert

Victoria Fortune was in the first wave of Soldiers deployed to Iraq in the early 2000s. Like many of her comrades, upon returning home she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

With a calm demeanor and a smile, Fortune explained she has a great deal of gratitude for social workers at a VA hospital who helped her cope with the disorder, allowing her to live a normal life; she has since married and followed her husband as his career as a U.S. Army officer takes them around the globe to Korea, Alaska and most recently Leavenworth in July of 2016. In addition to being a mother and student, Fortune is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society as the group’s Public Relations officer.

Her appreciation and admiration for the social workers’ efforts has manifested into the pursuit of an education in social work, starting with Barton, so she can help others overcome similar challenges and succeed when they transition to civilian life.

“The social workers helped us a lot and they were there for us,” she said. “It didn’t matter what we needed, they would try to help us. I feel like that’s something I want to give back through the VA for doing that for me.”

She had already earned an associate’s degree in medical science in 2008 and worked as a nurse for an OB-GYN clinic for a few years before deciding to return to school to study social work, the motivation for which she said probably originated from her childhood; her experience at the VA Hospital was just a catalyst that gave her direction.

“Ever since I was young, my main inspiration was seeing one of my teachers helping these students whose parents were not really there,” she said. “I saw how she helped these kids accomplish so much and it caught my attention. It made me realize I want to help people.”

When she is finished with Barton’s program, she will continue to a university.

“Barton is helping me transfer. They really try to go the extra mile to help you get what you need,” she said. “I’ve been very impressed with the school.”