When Nancy Hogan incurred a spinal injury in 1998, her military career was cut short, and her future shifted in an instant – one moment she was a West Point graduate with a bright future in the military; the next, she was a paralyzed veteran.
The ensuing transition from life as a military police officer to life as a civilian was not always smooth, nor easy. A grueling regimen of physical rehabilitation program eventually got her back on her feet, albeit with pain. But Hogan says the process of procuring disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs hit some “snags” along the way. The turning point, she says, was getting in touch with the Paralyzed Veterans of America, who helped her navigate the system’s byzantine bureaucracy.
As a result of the help she received from the PVA during that difficult time – as well as support from veterans she met during her rehab at the VA Hospital; others “who had been there, done that, got the t-shirt,” as Hogan calls these fellow survivors of the VA process – she realized she’d found her life’s calling: to serve as an advocate for other veterans. A career dedicated to veterans advocacy and law in effect chose her, Hogan says, not the other way around. “It gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning,” she says.
Hogan entered RWU Law in 2001 with the express purpose of gaining the legal expertise she needed to help her fellow veterans. She says she focused on employment law, family law and disability law – pointing out that, pre-9/11, Veterans Law wasn’t a major focus at most law schools.
Since graduation, she’s remained true to her goal of veterans’ advocacy in an impressive career that includes a stint as associate executive director of the Veterans Benefits Department for the PVA, and two years as counsel to Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, working on issues related to homelessness, women veterans and housing. Today, she’s the director of strategic outreach and legislative affairs for Veteran's Employment and Training (VETS) for the U.S. Department of Labor – tasked with educating returning veterans on employment opportunities, and advocating for their needs in Congress.