Aaron Heliker — On the Road to Recovery

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Veteran Aaron Heliker finds the staff and the support for Success in the Collison Repair program at CCC

Aaron Heliker arrived at Clackamas Community College in January 2014, about four and a half years after his rehabilitation journey began.

In the U.S. Air Force, he became part of the Red Horse, a select unit of just 500 service members. Aaron was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan seven times over nine years.

Aaron was seriously wounded in an attack in Afghanistan in 2009 that left him with traumatic brain injury, partial blindness and hearing loss, nerve damage in his leg, a reconstructed shoulder, severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and debilitating survivor’s guilt.

His long and difficult recovery led him to equine therapy, and he is the subject of the documentary “Riding My Way Back” and continues to be involved with Wounded Warrior outreach.

The Veterans Administration suggested Aaron enroll in school to continue his recovery. With a background in auto body work, it seemed a natural fit to pursue a community college program in the field. At Clackamas, he found the staff and program to meet his needs.

“I came here and talked to Dave Bradley, and I immediately felt at ease,” Aaron said.

Aaron enrolled at CCC, and staff in the Automotive program agreed to work with him to meet all his medical and rehabilitation appointments. He was concerned about his ability to find success in the classroom.

“A lot of my early training came back to me,” Aaron said. “CCC doesn’t let you cut corners. They make you do things right.”

Aaron is working toward an associate’s degree in Collision Repair and Refinishing. He also continues his work with equine therapy for veterans, earning a certification in the program that led to his own healing.

“CCC has been the right fit for me to develop the skills I need,” he said. “If you’re willing to work hard, the staff here will support you to help you reach your goals.”

 


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