Memorial Day isn’t the only day worthy of celebration in May – just ask any nurse. On May 6th, we’ll have National Nurses Day, from May 6th – 12th we’ll observe National Nurses Week, and from May 8th – 14th we’ll also celebrate Skilled Nursing Care Week. In Olive Branch and elsewhere in the U.S., many people will be paying homage and recognizing the contributions made by the many skilled nurses in the medical profession. While most senior home care professionals lack the medical training to be nurses, they can certainly join in with the rest of the country to honor all the nurses we rely upon so much for their medical expertise and caring.
History of helping
It’s only natural that military nurses be honored along with the millions of soldiers who have fought and died for their country since nurses have always been right at the sides of soldiers. Ever since Revolutionary War times, nurses have provided aid and comfort to the wounded, mended their injuries, and encouraged them to get back on their feet. Of course, there was no official Nurses Corp in Revolutionary days, but by the time of the Civil War, women like Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton were well on their way to establishing such an organization.
The U.S. Army Nurse Corp was formed in 1901, and nurses have been part of every battle since then. The Navy Nurse Corp was established in 1908, and the tremendous contribution of nurses was recognized by the Military. When World War I rolled around, there were a full 60,000 women associated with the Military, and they were kept busy starting in 1917 when the U.S. entered the war on the side of the Allies. During World War II, nurses finally received the same rank as other soldiers, thus becoming their equals. It was in 1947 that the Air Force finally established its own Nursing Corp, to join the other branches of service.
There are tons of stories about the bravery of nurses as well as their dedication to healing, which have emerged from the annals of American military actions after the Civil War. Although not generally participating in front-line combat situations, the nursing corps of the Service branches are never far behind the front lines, ready to provide whatever medical services are required. Nurses served in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War, although their numbers in Vietnam were kept to no more than 7,000 since medical facilities were under constant fire as South Vietnam (and their American aids) began losing the war.
Nurses in modern times
Following the Vietnam War, nurses also participated in the Panama War, the invasion of Grenada, the Gulf War, and the actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Having now become a mainstay of the American Military, they are considered essential personnel when it comes to transporting patients, tending to wounded soldiers, and comforting those who have been badly wounded. Nurses have become much appreciated and respected members of the Military Services, and there are few professions where participants are more fully appreciated.
With no world conflict requiring the presence of military nurses, the primary role of nurses in the military these days is providing care for Veterans, particularly those who have been bothered by PTSD and other emotional disturbances. Sometimes it is very difficult for soldiers to merge back in with society after having been exposed to the harsh realities of combat and extreme violence. Military nurses can be crucial in providing the care needed by these individuals to re-join the world of the living to become productive members of society again.
Veterans Affairs nurses are often the most dedicated of all to their profession. After seeing the kind of emotional damage that frequently occurs to soldiers in combat, it takes all the training and knowledge a nurse has to help a wounded soldier recover full physical and emotional functionality. VA nurses also give service in nursing homes for veterans, in home-based primary care situations, and in outpatient centers. In such settings, nurses will tend to physical wounds, help with physical therapy, enhance ex-soldier morale, and treat post-war trauma as appropriate.
Remember our nurses
There’s no question that nurses associated with the Military provide a very valuable and very necessary service to military members. Most of the time, their efforts go unnoticed and are largely unappreciated. For a one-week window in May, all that can change, and nurses can be featured members of our society, as we recognize everything they do for us. When May rolls around this year, don’t forget to somehow honor the wonderful nurses who have given so much in contribution to the wars and military actions our country has been involved with. No one is more worthy of admiration and respect than the nurses who support the front-line troops fighting for our way of life.