2023 Pillars of Strength Scholarship Recipient
Lyra Helms has worked in health care for nearly a decade. She is also an advocate for the military veterans community, a commitment that dovetails with the support she has provided her fiancé, who served in the Army.
At the confluence of those three forces—health, veterans and caregiving—is Helms’ new aspiration: to work at the intersection of health care and cybersecurity. A Pillars of Strength Scholarship to pursue a degree at University of Maryland Global Campus will help push her toward that goal.
Helms, who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, already has a master’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of New Mexico. She currently works as the director of personal care for Corus Health. For the next stage of her education, she plans to use her Pillars scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in cybersecurity management and policy.
“I am excited to see how I can connect cybersecurity to health care,” she said. “AI [artificial intelligence]is advancing so rapidly, and it will change our healthcare system as we know it.”
Helms’ advocacy work grew out of watching the experiences of friends, relatives and others in her life who have served in the military over the years and experienced combat.
“Veterans are an underserved population in terms of mental health resources and support assimilating back to civilian life,” Helms said.
Her fiancé, Adam Griego, served in the Army 1st Battalion, as part of the 23rd Infantry Regiment nicknamed the “Tomahawks.” He deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, earning a Purple Heart after combat in Panjwai, Afghanistan.
“Adam is of great support to his veteran peers,” Helms said. “We both work together to help our friends navigate the day-to-day after leaving military life.”
Helms said her time as a fellow with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, an advocacy group for veteran caregivers, provided her with many resources to help advocate for veterans and their loved ones.
“So many people are unaware of the help available to them,” she explained.
As an occupational therapist, she has been able to provide care to patients across the lifespan, ranging from infants to elderly.
She has transitioned from direct patient care to health care leadership. In her work at Corus Health, she strives to provide quality caregiving support for members of the community. Helms is interested in the role cybersecurity will play in healthcare as technology develops. She looks forward to using her healthcare experience with servicemembers to help shape that future.
“As an advocate for caregivers,” Lyra said, “I will [also] speak of the Pillars program with my firsthand experience to create buy-in and understanding that anything is possible.”