By Alena KairysDec 1, 2020
From a young age, Astorga knew she wanted to become a nurse and serve in the Air Force. After graduating from the University of Auburn with a nursing degree, the Alabama native was commissioned as an Officer in 2000.
She was deployed to Iraq in 2007, and later to Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011. In both deployments, she worked as a critical care nurse in combat theater hospitals, where she worked long hours tending to the injured. However, not all the wounded she cared for were her comrades. Sometimes they were local civilians or even prisoners of war. Astorga recalls, “I had a lot of moral battles and ethical battles while I was there and deployed in those areas. [They’re] human beings as well and when I became a nurse in the military, we take care of all casualties, no matter if it’s our soldiers or the enemy.” If being a nurse in a combat zone wasn’t challenging enough, Astorga also had to navigate a still very male-dominated profession. She said, “I felt like I had to continuously prove myself to my peers, my male counterparts, [and] my male superiors.”
When she returned from her second deployment, Astorga had trouble finding her place within society, and it took a toll on her mentally. Her struggle with depression led her to an early medical retirement in 2013. Following her military career, Astorga worked as a Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) at two private hospitals in Dayton, OH. The emotional pain she endured was still difficult to bear, and she sought support from various Veteran-oriented programs. One day, she came across Women Veterans Network, or WoVeN. WoVeN is a nationwide community of female Veterans whose mission is to provide support and sisterhood to its members. The ideals of WoVeN resonated with Astorga so much that she decided to become a Peer Leader and started a chapter in the Dayton area. Volunteering with WoVeN gave Astorga a new purpose in life: to let women Veterans know they matter and have not been forgotten.
While deployed, Astorga would often watch Peyton Manning’s football games in the breakroom during her downtime. Watching her favorite player gave her a sense of comfort and home during her overseas assignments. On November 8th, Astorga was surprised with a video call from Peyton Manning, who thanked her for her service and her work with WoVeN as a part of the NFL’s “Salute to Service”. She has also been featured in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ national campaign, I Am Not Invisible, which recognizes female Veterans for their contributions.
Astorga still resides in Dayton, OH. She enjoys spending time with her family and connecting with her WoVeN sisters. Along with lifting others up, Astorga is taking more time to care for herself. “I had been taking care of so many people in my life–patients, family–that I decided I [want to] take care of myself right now,” she says. “That’s where I am; working on a lot of things for [my] mental and physical health, as the years of being in a stressful work environment and all of that I’ve done have, of course, affected me physically.” Astorga is currently training to become a Veteran’s yoga instructor so she can help fellow Veterans with physicality through meditation and mindfulness.
NFM Salute is an initiative in which one military member or Veteran is chosen each month to be honored as the “Salute of the Month.” Salutes are chosen from nominations on the NFM Salute website, www.nfmsalute.com. The “Salute of the Month” will be featured on the website with a biography and information about his or her service, and NFM Lending will donate to a military or Veteran non-profit in the Salute’s name.
NFM Lending is proud to donate $2,500 to Veterans Yoga Project on behalf of Astorga. NFM looks forward to the opportunity to continue to honor military and Veterans through the NFM Salute initiative.
About NFM Lending
NFM Lending is a mortgage lending company currently licensed in 41 states in the U.S. The company was founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1998. NFM Lending and its family of companies includes Main Street Home Loans, BluPrint Home Loans, and Freedmont Mortgage Group. They attribute their success in the mortgage industry to their steadfast commitment to customers and the community. NFM Lending has firmly planted itself in the home loan marketplace as “America’s Common Sense Residential Mortgage Lender.™” For more information about NFM Lending, visit www.nfmlending.com, like our Facebook page, or follow us on Instagram.
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