Preserving Our Past, Capitalizing on the Present, Embracing the Future

Highlights in the History of the Army Nurse Corps, 2000 to Present

With bright hopes in the new millennium, the Army Nurse Corps continued their expert performance at home and in support of worldwide missions.

On the morning of 11 September 2001, suicidal terrorists hijacked airplanes that they flew into the World Trade Towers in New York and the Painting of a North Dakota Air Guard 119th Fighter Wing F-16 on a combat air patrol over the burning Pentagon on 11 September 2001Pentagon in Virginia. Army nurses assigned at the Pentagon rallied to help the injured. They triaged the wounded, and organized the evacuation of the injured. In addition, nurses at Walter Reed Army Medical Center cared for the injured both in the facility and in other hospitals where some of the survivors were taken. In the initial days after the disaster, psychiatric nurses partnered with other mental health professionals and chaplains to provide grief counseling, critical incident debriefing, and crisis management throughout the Pentagon.

212th Surgical Hospital in IraqIn response to the attacks, Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) began in October 2001. Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) was mounted on March 20, 2003, and continued until 2010, when Operation New Dawn began, reflecting a reduced U.S. role in Iraq. Triage in progress during an influx of casualties at the 212th SurgArmy nurse deployments averaged 400-500 each year from active duty, reserve and guard components, totaling approximately 5000 deployments during the decade.

Army nurses served across Asia, Europe, Central and South America, in every time zone, and at home, caring for Wounded Warriors on the long road to recovery. They contributed significantly to the success of the multinational operations and worked collaboratively with coalition, Afghan, and Iraqi healthcare professionals.

Since June 2003, Army nurse case managers have been engaged in warrior care efforts, when as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the demand for support and assistance of wounded, ill, and injured service members began increasing exponentially. Their efforts have greatly facilitated the transition of these patients. >In 2010, these officers supervised care of over 9,000 service members and oversaw the transfer of over 8,500 military personnel back to duty or to become productive veterans.

Army nurses were instrumental in the formation of the Department of Defense Trauma Registry that contains information about every trauma patient treated at an advanced theater facility. This formal documentation of injury patterns, for example, led to improvements in personal protective equipment. Data also gathered validated the use tourniquets and new approaches transfusions, resuscitation procedures, and hemorrhage control.

In the eloquent words of Army nursing historian Colonel (Retired) Mary T. Sarnecky, “Given the storied history of achievements, patriotism, and selfless dedication, the Army Nurse Corps expects to carry on its unbroken line of professional service and shall adapt its knowledge and skills to meet the challenges of the future.”

 Left from top:
  Painting of an F-16 of the North Dakota Air Guard 119th Fighter Wing
      on combat air patrol over the Pentagon on 11 September 2001
  Triage in progress during an influx of casualties at the
      212th Surgical Hospital
 Right from top:
  The 212th Surgical Hospital in Iraq
  Army Nurse Corps officers yesterday and today
Text by ANCA Historian COL (Ret.) C. J. Moore; Photos courtesy of the Army Medical Department Center of History and Heritage