Rebecca Patterson served six years in the US Navy (2005-2011) and deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of the War on Terrorism. Upon separation, she attended the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM) to earn her Bachelor of Science in chemistry. While at UWM, she served as president of the Student Veterans of America chapter and the inaugural veteran advocacy senator in Student Association.
After learning about the use of burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan and conducting further research, she decided to continue her education at the University of Maryland (UMD) to study environmental health. She graduated in 2018 with a Master of Public Health in environmental health sciences. Rebecca is now an assistant director for the Veterans Health Council of Vietnam Veterans of America, where she focuses on veteran health outcomes related to toxic exposures during military service.
Between her degrees, Rebecca completed a service year at SVA National as an AmeriCorps VISTA. The opportunity allowed her to pay the services which had been instrumental to her own success as a student veteran forward to others across the entire nation.
Rebecca was also a 2017 Mission Continues Fellow, 2018 Veterans in Global Leadership Fellow, and 2019 Fulbright Student semi-finalist.
"The use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam has led to widespread contamination on U.S. military installations, which has spread into water supplies of the surrounding communities. Fluorinated surfactants in the foam persist in the environment and are toxic to human health. Exposure to PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances) must be reduced."