The true definition of the word “War” per various defining sources is: “A state of open, armed, often prolonged conflict carried on between nations, states, or parties.” And a true definition of the word “Nurse” per various defining sources is: “A person educated and trained to care for the sick or disabled.” I chose to become a part of the second definition.
My main being in life besides that of a family member is to help another human being to become well or to assist them to gain the ability to care for themselves doing their disabling times. Never would I have thought that my career would have taken me into the vials of pure hell! But, it did. Not after I became an adult in a world that sometimes seems unfair. Not after I became a member of my country’s armed forces. But after I went to live up to my responsibilities as an Army Nurse to assist those in need; did such a saddening of events occur. Events that I sometimes would prefer to forget. Events that won’t stay out of my memory. Events that were at times enjoyable and others not worth the seconds or minutes they took to become processed.
This is my story; this is the person I am. This is the person I became. This is the person I shall remain to be… “An Army Nurse” proud to have provided the best service I could have in disastrous times when your daily routine 24/7 was often to work while wearing gas masks. Or in strenuous times when the casualties from all sides would mount and you would find yourself working on persons from other countries, such as the enemies whose hygienic way of cleaning themselves was by using their hands instead of tissue.
Or in less patient times when the anxiety of participation to get this war finally started and over with would put you in the role of confidant to your peers and them to you.
This story welcomes you to find the inner strength to say regardless what comes along in life, you can say, "I can beat this obstacle."
“Yes I Can!”
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CHAPTER 1 LEAVING HOME As I lay my bed, I gazed out the window and began to realize how beautiful the trees are, their stern branches with their green leaves. It was amazing to enjoy the nature that surrounded me. I had not really taken much notice before, but it was truly beautiful to enjoy what had already been here for so many decades.Greenery has become a part of my life these days; although, it has always been a part of my life I didn't respect it as I do now. I guess to some it's silly to gaze at how beautiful Mother Nature is, but like many including myself, we are so busy with daily living that we just don't have time to appreciate the finer things in life. The sweet smell of the grass was something I never took notice of, and I never allowed myself to enjoy the beauty of its wholesomeness; nor, the relaxing realms of each blade. For some reason, we are always seeking enjoyment elsewhere by going on exotic vacations when Mother Nature's beauty is right in front of us. It's like having the wholesome Ivory girl right next door, and yet we don't notice her until she becomes a star. I constantly find myself at the window looking at flowers of many colors and shapes that surround the neighboring homes. They are exhilarating and pretty. I enjoy the sun now, it's not a nuisance or imaginary anymore. I enjoy the golden reflection as it beams through the windows. I can almost enjoy the heat that it projects. Also, the moon being born of many shapes, full, half, quarter shape, and so forth. They are all an inner part of my life now more than ever. I don't take anything for granted, anymore because now I realize these miraculous beauties can be taken away from me, and leave me without the joy of appreciating their beauty. It was the year of 1990, in November, when I received a phone call from my colonel, who informed me that the unit was pending alert; which means that the unit may be activated to go on active duty. I was new to the army, a second lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps Reserve, a “butter bar” as my father always called me. Meaning, officers that out ranked the enlisted were considered soft and received all the credit, while the enlisted did all the work. I knew the country was having problems in the Middle East, with Saddam Hussein, the leader of Iraq who had taken over Kuwait to regain control over the country and oil; however, I never gave that much thought of being called to serve; after all I was a nurse. And, I was aware that the current President, George Bush had already ordered many soldiers to the Middle East, including medical professionals; as early as August, so it wasn’t a surprise that my unit was pending alert. When the final order came, I was in a state of shock. I didn't know what to think, or what to do, but I had this gut feeling that if we were to go, I would be one of many thousands. I tried to prepare myself mentally, but it was hard to do. I knew I had to tell my husband but I didn't know how. My husband was a male chauvinistic individual who believed women had their place, and that place was in the home. He was also egotistic and this situation might crush his ego, so I decided not to tell him until I was sure I would go. The next morning I called the army to validate the call I had received last evening, it was true we were going to be deployed. I also learned that I was scheduled for Officer Basic School (a minimum requirement for all new officers entering the Nurse Corps.). I was scheduled for San Antonio, Texas; December 8, 1990 for two weeks. I couldn't believe it-I was finally going to officer school after serving for two years. I had been trying to go ever since I became commissioned. I had always been told there were no funds available, no slots, and besides my weight made it impossible each time I inquired. And, now the truth was staring me in the face, I was going to be deployed, overweight or not. A part of me was thrilled I was given this great opportunity to go overseas, something I had looked forward to in the army. However, I was not prepared to see lives destroyed by guns, bombs and chemical warfare; I was a nurse trained in my specialty. It didn't matter what I believed in if I was ordered, I had no other choice. I had sworn to save my country, I was obligated, and regardless of my beliefs I was a soldier. That afternoon, when I told my husband what was going on, he didn't look surprised at all, and like myself he too expected it. He turned to me and said, ' the media said they were calling thousands and thousands of reservists, and I felt that you would be called also.” Although his voice sounded relaxed and prepared, he like most was afraid of the possibility of his spouse getting killed. Death never occurred to me then because I believed in the father who was my protector and Supreme Being. I really didn't give death much thought. Besides, I believed I was going to heaven. I didn’t know what to think or feel. One part of me felt strong, and obligated to the point that I allow myself to think I could handle anything, as long as I believe and stayed focused on the Lord. But then there was the other side of me that was afraid and didn’t know how to express my fears. I knew what war could do, I had seen too many talk shows, and had taking care of too many post war veterans who suffered from post traumatic stress. I saw the devastation and the cruelty that war had caused so I too was frightened. I didn’t know what to expect, but one thing I was sure of---I would miss my children terribly. I wondered how the war would affect my children, while I was so many miles away. I didn’t want our relationship to change, but I knew deep in my soul that war would change me because war never left people the same. Despite my concern for my loved ones, I had a commitment and a duty to the country and fellow troops. I could not allow myself to become a coward. I was a soldier/nurse first, and a civilian second, so whatever skepticism I was feeling it didn’t waiver my acceptance to go. Maybe that was the reason I had never given death much thought only because I wasn’t afraid of dying. I knew that if I continued to trust my faith, death would pass me according to the word of God. I had come to terms with accepting death, but I did not want to die prematurely, while my children were still young and needed their mother; besides, I could not fathom anyone taking care of them except me. No one could raise them like I could and no one understood each of them like I did. And if anyone else would have that opportunity, no one would be capable other than my mother. My mother was already in her late middle age, and it would not have been fair to burden her with more responsibilities. That made me feel guilty, but it was a thought of so many thoughts I had to struggle with. I continued to maintain my focus on the positive, and I refused to allow myself to think on anything negative which could possibly hinder my obligations, commitment and loyalty to my country. THE STORY CONTINUES IN THE PURCHASE OF "YES I CAN"... A GULF WAR NURSE'S STORY
"When all else fails, just say to yourself, "YES I CAN."