Rizza de la Guerra’s grandfather was a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force. Her husband Karl served in the Air Force for ten years. And so it’s with this service in mind that Rizza and Karl decided to give back to veterans by creating The Karl L. and Rizza H. de la Guerra Veteran Health Scholar Fund.
Rizza graduated from the School of Nursing with a BSN in 1986. Now, she sits on the School’s Foundation Board of Directors, and chairs the Board’s Corporate and Foundation Relations Committee. Her friendship is enjoyed by students and faculty, and her regular donations have sustained the School of Nursing for years.
She has championed the School of Nursing’s military affiliated student program since it began in 2014. The program generates funds to support military students and provides mentoring and networking opportunities to ensure a smooth transition from service to academia and onward into the profession. It is bolstered by strong clinical partnerships with area Veterans Health Administration hospitals.
In creating the Veteran Health Scholar Fund, Rizza and Karl take this program a step further. The award will financially support military affiliated nursing students as they care for other veterans in a clinical setting.
“There are a lot of barriers to care when you go into the VA,” said Rizza. “We thought it would be great if there was a system where veterans could help out other veterans.”
Rizza said she feels this system would lower such barriers to care by creating a mutual feeling of comfort and understanding among veteran patients and their military affiliated nurses.
“We want the student nurses who receive this award to know that their service doesn’t go unnoticed, nor does the service of those they care for,” said the de la Guerras. They said it’s a joy to be able to give back to the School of Nursing in such a meaningful way, and they hope the award will demonstrate the positive impact Carolina nurses can make in providing quality care for our veterans.
“As the mother of a veteran, our School’s military initiatives are dear to my heart, and we are so grateful to the de la Guerra’s for choosing to honor the service of our military students and to support them in this way,” said Nena Peragallo Montano, dean of the School of Nursing.
Both graduate and undergraduate students are eligible to apply for the award, and recipients will work in partnership with the Veterans Health Administration system or another officially designated veteran health organization.