Monikka Woolfork - Fellow

Aug 30, 2011
Monikka Woolfork
Monikka Woolfork - Fellow

Of all the paths Monikka Woolfork could have taken, military service was an unlikely one.

Woolfork grew up on a tobacco farm in Valdosta, Georgia. Her mother, a middle school science teacher, made clear that Woolfork was to focus on her education and had to go to college. Woolfork, however, had plans of her own. Despite having no military veterans in her family, Woolfork dreamed of enlisting. “I went to college to join the military,” she recalls of her stint in the Army ROTC at Savannah State University.

Woolfork left college to follow her then-husband, an Army soldier, to the Washington, DC area. Later, Woolfork enlisted in the Army herself to become a pharmacy technician. After graduating and accepting a commission in the Army’s Medical Service Corps, Second Lieutenant Woolfork returned to active duty. During her deployment to Iraq, she served as brigade medical planner, overseeing a brigade’s medical assets and personnel.

Woolfork’s Iraq experience is hard for her to describe. “My deployment was the best and worst part of my career.” While she did a job she enjoyed in the ultimate proving ground, she saw a friend and colleague die in an explosion.

Back home, Woolfork continued raising her son and daughter, studying patient administration, and juggling a long list of responsibilities. She found herself often irritated, suffering from insomnia and other symptoms. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome.

While doing vocational rehabilitation work, Woolfork heard about the Wounded Warrior Program. “I realized I liked helping people,” she says, and the program seemed like an ideal way to do a form of patient advocacy. Also, she thought, “It was an opportunity to get some insight into how things work from the policy side.”

As a fellow in the office of Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Woolfork is learning a lot about a variety of challenges facing veterans. Her work involves the justice system, medical care, and homeless. “You never stop learning, and there’s always a need to help your fellow man and woman.” Beyond the opportunity to learn, Woolfork relishes the chance to help veterans. “Right now what I see is just being able to help those who don’t know where to go or what to do.”