When Nadine Brinton, D.C., graduated as class valedictorian at the Summer 2012 commencement of Palmer College’s West Campus, the achievement was symbolic of more than the culmination of her chiropractic studies – it marked the completion of a personal journey that was preceded by five years of military service in Iraq.
Now in the process of developing a practice at Hanson Family Chiropractic near her hometown of Ukiah, Calif., Dr. Brinton, who served as a Campus Guide while a student, feels a great deal of pride about her chiropractic achievements. She’s equally proud of the military chapter that preceded her Palmer education, which Dr. Brinton chronicles in her new book, “Perceptions from War: The Enemy Lies Within.” The book was co-authored with her childhood friend Strada Morris.
Dr. Brinton completed her basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, where she earned the Physical Fitness Award. This helped prepare her for the physical rigors of her deployment to active combat duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom II, during which she served as a Russian linguist, survived several severe vehicle accidents as a convoy driver, and spent every day armed with a machine gun, while also wearing combat helmet and bulletproof vest (filled with ammunition).
By the time Dr. Brinton received an honorable discharge in 2005, her body was painfully contorted. She credits chiropractic care for literally changing her life by providing relief from perpetual pain.
In reflecting on that experience, Dr. Brinton says, “It wasn’t until I was adjusted by a chiropractor near my hometown (West Campus ’96 alumnus Dr. Richard Naval) that I experienced relief and actually felt like a woman in her twenties again. Chiropractic care restored sensation to my body. It was as if my nerves had been fried by the stress and no longer gave me sensations of taste, smell, touch and others. It was as if I were numb or walking through life like a zombie. After my first adjustment, I could not believe the relief my body experienced.”
Although Dr. Brinton has recovered from most of the physical injuries suffered during her military service, the emotional and mental consequences of active duty aren’t as visible and take longer to heal. Telling her story, especially from the perspective of a woman in combat, and publishing the book have helped Dr. Brinton immensely in the healing process.
"Through the process, I emotionally healed and was able to move on from the past and onto my new endeavors,” she said.
Her other endeavors include development of a Facebook page, “Operation For Veterans By Veterans,” which is dedicated to helping other veterans transition to civilian life and provides links to organizations dedicated to a similar mission (including information about the Palmer-supported Yellow Ribbon GI Education Program).
Dr. Brinton says the healing process has been defined by ups and downs, but the combination her recent achievements have her feeling energized and excited about the next chapter of life.
“When I saw the completed book, I could not believe it; it was an out-of-body experience, in such that I could disconnect from the ‘soldier Nadine’ to the newly awarded chiropractor,” said Dr. Brinton. “I was delighted and excited to share my story with other soldiers who were still stuck in the PTSD fog. Now I look forward to the opportunity of helping others – military and civilian -- experience the life-changing health benefits of chiropractic care, just as it changed my life.”