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Military Psychology Student Champions Social Justice Despite Health Obstacles

Stories | 08.30.19

Cedric Bills, a military psychology student, had served 17 years in the Army when he was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clotting disorder that culminated in two hematomas and two brain surgeries. After his third individual DVT in the same leg and first hematoma, Bills went on to serve five more years in the Army for a total of 22 years before he was medically retired. Despite his health issues, he still wanted to serve other veterans and active duty officers, so he began the Master of Arts in Military Psychology program at our Online Campus. He shared his story, his interest in military psychology, and his passion for helping others with us.

How did you shift careers after you were medically retired from the military?
I supported myself as a certified hypnotherapist for almost five years in Atlanta before I started working on my bachelor’s degree. I helped people stop smoking, lose weight, manage stress, and do a lot of other cool things all by showing them how to take control of their subconscious mind. Then I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 2012 from Clayton State University.

In June 2013, I was going to Wayne State University in a master’s program for Rehabilitation Counseling when, right at the end of my first term of two classes, I started having headaches for no reason, and ended up having to have an emergency craniotomy. I haven’t been the same since, especially since I suffered a grand mal seizure after that and other defects. It took me until 2018 before I thought I could take classes again at this level and do well. I do my homework around my pain, but I have the incredible support of my wife, and an awesome emotional support dog named Mocha. This is how I’ve made it all work so far.

What made you decide to attend Adler University?
I had 14 months remaining of my GI Bill benefits when I decided it was time for me to get back to working on my master’s degree. I searched far and wide for a program that fit this time constraint and an institution that had a solid reputation for providing excellence through their students that went out into the communities. My program had to be online because of my disabilities.

Why did you decide to study military psychology?
I knew I wanted to study psychology. Then when I read deeper into what this degree was about and checked out the course content, I thought I was dreaming. I thought Adler University had created this degree with me in mind. Of course, after attending the classes and being with all the other students, I see so many other students who are like me who love the military, love psychology, and think the two go well together. I’ve learned so much, and I can’t believe the luck I had when I found out about this program.

Why is advancing social justice important to you?
The advancement of social justice is important because I’ve always stood up for the person who was left out or who people seemed to be picking on. I was in an excellent position to do this because I was somewhat popular and an athlete in high school, so I could use my influence in a positive way like that. That same attitude followed me into the Army. I can’t stand injustice, and that means racism, sexism, hetero-sexism, homophobia, ageism, class-ism, or any other “ism” or discrimination.

I believe in equality and the words of Martin Luther King Jr. when he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” I believe in and stand for the advancement of that and all kinds of social justice, and that’s why it’s important to me.

How do you plan to help veterans or active duty military with your degree?
My disabilities have left me totally and permanently disabled, but I still believe I can contribute to my fellow veteran or military service members with all of the valuable information I’ve attained. I plan to figure out which topic or topics I want to speak on and do that either in a blog or in a book or two. Or, if I become more comfortable with speaking again, I could see myself doing a podcast. I will figure out a way to deliver the message because I do have one to offer!

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