Lehman Student Veteran Honored for Service to Fellow Veterans and Her Community
May 25, 2011
A fourteen-year veteran of the U.S. Army, Dorcedious Davis began attending college mainly as a way to get out of the house while coping with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which was a result of her military service. Now a Lehman student, Davis not only has a thriving academic life but also has won numerous awards for her humanitarian work with fellow veterans.
"Just because you have a disability doesn't mean you're disabled," she says. "You may take a little longer, but that's no reason to give up."
Davis has remained true to that motto, attending class despite her illness and giving freely of her time to help women veterans, as well as those who are homeless, disabled, and ill. Much of the work has been carried out through the organization she helped to co-found—Veterans Action Group, Inc. (VAG)—which works with veterans to help them receive the benefits they have earned, as well as on other issues.
For her efforts, Davis was recently awarded the 2011 Women Veteran of the Year Award from a collective of Harlem-based veterans and community organizations, as well as citations from Congressman Charles B. Rangel, New York City Council Member Inez E. Dickens, and Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr. In March, she received the Key to Harlem at the Third Annual Celebration of Women in the Military. In April, she made an appearance on the "Dr. Oz Show" as part of a discussion about women veterans and PTSD.
"I remember when I couldn't go outside by myself," says the social work and African American studies major, "and now I'm a student at Lehman College. It shows me that you can work through it." A former Army specialist and combat medic, Davis has served in places like Germany, France, Panama, and throughout the United States. She was deployed overseas to Kuwait during the invasion, to the Persian Gulf, and as part of the Desert Storm operation.
During most of her deployments, Davis dealt with mass casualties that had incurred significant trauma. "You know everybody who's injured," she recalls. "Those are your buddies and comrades you serve together with on a daily basis. In the field, they become the only family you know for a while. You try your best to provide care to everybody, although you know everybody may not make it."
Davis came to Lehman after earning her associate's degree in human services from Borough of Manhattan Community College and chose Lehman primarily because of the supportive services that the Office of Student Disability Services and Veterans and Military Affairs provides for disabled students and veterans. Davis's passion for helping others made the social work major a natural choice, and the atmosphere of the campus has helped her to relax her and decrease the anxiety associated with PTSD, from which she is gradually recovering.
She remains very active in her community as an active evangelist of The First Baptist Church of Central Harlem and as a public relations representative for the American Legion, Charles Young Post 398. She is also a member of Military Women in Power's Bronx chapter and is the founder/first chairwoman of the Armed Forces, Veterans & Families Committee at the Mid-Manhattan Branch of the NAACP. In addition, she is the chaplain of the 715th Veterans Association in Brooklyn.
"If you can make it through the military, you can make it through school," says Davis. "I hope to be an inspiration to other people."