Nursing Lifestyle

Wartime's Unsung Heroes: Honoring Veteran Military Nurses

Wartime's Unsung Heroes: Honoring Veteran Military Nurses

The current world would not be how it existed if it had not gone through wars and battles. In fact, the world has gone through two major globally inflicted wars. The most recent, and hopefully the last, was the Second World War or famously known as World War II (WWII). The war had lasted for six years, between September 1, 1939 to September 2, 1945. However, some may claim that conflicts may have started during earlier dates.

The world was divided into two groups during the Second World War. One of the groups was the Axis Powers that was composed of Germany, Italy, and Japan while the other group was the Allies that was composed of Britain, France, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Soviet Union (now known as Russia), China, and the United States of America.

Both groups had fought one another furiously and bravely while a lot of innocent civilian lives were put in line. Both women and men alike have fought side by side in order to defend their motherland. Defending in front lines or manning up the troops, everyone all wanted the same thing: to end the war.

Military nurses as unsung heroes

Brave soldiers and cunning generals are not the only heroes that have fought during the Second World War. Obviously, with all the soldiers that have fought for all those six years, everyone at some point during the war would have been injured in varying degrees or worse, die in combat. Yet who are the people that are tending to these brave men and women?

Like nurses in hospitals and clinics who tend to those who are sick and distraught, military nurses tend to the injured soldiers from the battlefield. However, these wartime nurses live more dangerous lives than the those in the traditional nursing career. Military nurses, unlike traditional ones, do not stay in hospitals alone, but they go into the warzone as well, facing bullets, explosions, and death itself while trying to alleviate pain from other people.

Asides from the usual formal nursing education and set of exams that all nurses take, military nurses are trained on how to proficiently deal with military soldiers and how to cope and adapt to a military environment. Military nurses need to be physically and mentally prepared for such a career since it would not be easy dealing with a lot of stress from every kind of source. That is why despite the disadvantages this profession offers, only true passion and dedication can make one a successful and enduring military nurse.

Brief history of military nurses

Before military or wartime nurses were considered as a profession, they were simply traditional nurses or volunteers who would like to take on the duty of caring for soldiers. However, in the year 1901, things have drastically changed. The United States Army decided to establish The US Army Nurses Corps. Military, allowing nurses to hold military positions and be assigned under the Navy, US Air Force, or Coast Guards. Military nurses have existed before World War I erupted in the United States.

Military nurses in WWII

According to statistics, approximately 60,000 American nurses were deployed in the six-year global war. They were assigned across the world including countries in Europe and in the Pacific. Records have shown that more than 500 military nurses have died during the Second World War. Most of which have perished in hostile fires, crashed war planes, and even contracting various diseases while on duty. They have risked their lives to save the lives of others.

Military nurses have faced all kinds of physical injuries like severed legs, burnt faces, large open wounds, and even gaping holes in different parts of the body. However, one of the hardest duties they had to face is when trying to alleviate the distraught from psychologically affected soldiers. Yet, despite all the challenges they faced, they prospered and faced death with dignity and bravery.

Life during the WWII

Military nurses work side by side with military doctors and medic. Unlike spacious hospitals back on their hometown, military medical teams work in cramped up spaces, overcrowded makeshift hospitals, often meeting less of the sanitary standards, low supplies, and in worst cases, are working with no electricity or water. Most military nurses had to handle more than a hundred injured soldiers a day without getting enough sleep or food; they could work up to or more than 84 hours per week.

Apart from giving physical aid to the injured soldiers, military nurses made sure to boost their morale and even provide a dose of humor. Through their strength and courage, many of the soldiers were inspired to view life in a lighter way. All of them would have to survive under their given circumstances without any complaint and that itself is an act of heroism.

WWII veteran military nurses today

Last November 11th, 2017, Veterans Day was celebrated across the United States. Tons of veteran soldiers have joined parades and were honored on the day. In fact, WWII veteran military nurses celebrated the heart-warming event as well. On the same date, Mary Ballard, a 98-year-old veteran military nurse, was given an honor for being the first lieutenant nurse in the Army Air Force. Asides from Mary Ballard, other veteran soldiers and veteran military nurses garnered honors and awards as one of the programs was held at Christ the King Church.

Most of the veteran military nurses view Veterans Day with both pride and sorrow. Firstly, pride for having to serve their own country during times of great peril. They do not regret their time spent on the military, providing service and care to their fellow soldiers who faced battles head-on. However, they view Veterans Day with sorrow as well because of the great losses they encounter and the possible trauma they may have accumulated from all the years of their service. They are greatly saddened by how brutal and cruel wars were that it had sacrificed so much of their comrades. Yet despite all the hardships they had gone through from trying to close open wounds to closing heartaches with motivation and humor, it is forever embedded in their hearts on how much they loved to work side by side with such brave men.

Final thoughts

Veterans Day is one of the days or nationwide activities wherein everyone can honor and acknowledge veterans that had fought in wars. However, it is best to keep in mind to not only remember these heroes during special occasions alone but to always recount your history and know their contributions.

As for military nurses, they are the military's unsung heroes. They might not have fought like brave men who faced bullets and bombs head to head, yet they are the brave people who cared unconditionally without regret. They uplifted not only the wounded but their spirits as well. They have proved that courage and bravery are not always about catching a bullet; it too can be swallowing the fate that not everyone who caught the bullet can see tomorrow’s sunrise. They have dealt with so much loss in every minute or every day; that they have developed an immunity towards grief to make room for more positivity.

Military nurses are the carrier of hope in these situations. They might not be able to revive or recover all the wounded soldiers, but through their hope and dedication to tend to every bleeding and crying soldier, it proves how much compassion they have just to show everyone that it is not the time to quit. They did not let the scarcity of supplies get their spirits down nor the dropping bombs stop them from service, and that itself is an act of undying love and heroism.