Student Veteran Series: Pamela Brodman

Photo courtesy of Pamela Brodman.

Jessica Wade
Editor in Chief

UNO senior Pamela Brodman said that she wouldn’t recognize herself from where she was five years ago.

“It’s definitely quite a dramatic change, but I’m happy with it,” Brodman said.

The 36-year-old, Spanish-born veteran smiled as she talked about an upcoming class trip to Ireland, and she laughed as she pointed out her bright purple hair, a style choice she couldn’t make while serving. In her own words, Brodman is “completely thriving in an academic environment.” But, while Brodman has flourished at UNO, there are still challenges she has—and continues to—overcome.

While serving, Brodman was sexually assaulted, a traumatic experience that would later develop into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

A severe wrist injury also resulted in chronic pain.

“I had a very deteriorating issue with my wrist where I broke it in six places, and then through repetition at work, I developed very advanced arthritis where they needed to fuse my wrist and so I can’t bend it,” Brodman said. “I lost 90 percent mobility of my wrist, which created a chain of issues with my shoulder, my neck, my back.”

Brodman was medically retired after serving in the Air Force for 15 years, and since retiring has been able to improve her PTSD through EMDR, a therapy treatment meant to disassociate emotions from memory.

Before retiring, Brodman deployed with a fellow linguist named Marcus Brodman to an island in the Caribbean.

“We fell in love there, and about a year and a half or so later, we decided to get married,” Brodman said. “We’ve been married since 2011, we don’t have children, the nature of my health kind of prevents that, but we have dogs—we love dogs.”

The couple fosters dogs for the Humane Society and the Heartland German Sheppard Rescue.

“So, in the year-and-a-half we’ve been fostering, we’ve fostered about 12 dogs and they’ve been great. I don’t care that my house is destroyed, I will not trade that for a minute,” Brodman said. “I think my husband—he loves the dogs as much I do—but I think he tolerates more than anything because it makes me so happy, and I adore him for that.”

Pamela with her husband Marcus Brodman. Photo courtesy of Pamela Brodman.

After marrying Marcus and medically retiring, Brodman very quickly made plans for her future.

“I was 34, not the exactly the age where you’re like, ‘okay I guess I’m done for my life’,” Brodman said. “I had always wanted to work in the publishing industry either as a publisher, author or an editor of some kind.”

Brodman began her search for the right university.

“All of the research, all of the paths that I went through, they all came down to UNO,” Brodman said. “It had the best language program, one of the best English programs and was rated as one of the best universities for veterans to attend, had the greatest number of student veterans enrolled, and so, to me, it’s like it’s made for me.”

Fluent in Farsi, Spanish, English and “able to get by” in French, Brodman had college credits through the Department of Defense Language Institute and in 2016 enrolled as a junior at UNO.

Brodman credits UNO’s Office of Military and Veteran Services for helping her through her first year at UNO.

“The way that I scheduled my classes I would always have a break in between them, and I would always make a beeline from all of my classes to the Veterans Office and I would sit there until my next class and I would talk to other veterans or the advisors. That was my place to re-center.”

Set to graduate next year, Brodman is pursuing a double major in English and Spanish and a minor in French and is again planning for her future.

“I want to work in publishing, I’d like ideally to climb to the point of being an editor. I’d love to be able to publish my own books and write my own books, which just this March one of my short stories was published in anthology. For me writing and editing, anything to do with words, is magic.”