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.

Painting of a North Dakota Air Guard 119th Fighter Wing F-16 on a combat air patrol over the burning Pentagon on 11 September 2001On September 11, 2001, when the deadliest terrorist attack in US history occurred, Army nurses assigned at the Pentagon and throughout Washington DC rallied to help the injured. In response to the attacks, nurses mobilized for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Army active duty, reserve and national guard nurses cared for 212th Surgical Hospital in Iraqmore than 50,0000 military, host nation and enemy insurgents under harsh conditions in remote, dangerous locations in the longest war of our annals. They contributed significantly to the success of the multinational operations and worked collaboratively with coalition, Afghan, and Iraqi healthcare professionals.

Triage in progress during an influx of casualties at the 212th SurgNursing practice evolved to meet the medical requirements of the war. Nurses who were attached to far-forward surgical teams resuscitated critically injured warriors with a balanced mix of blood products and provided anesthesia for damage control surgery. They served on fixed-wing and rotary wing aircraft, transporting severely injured casualties AN providing in-flight careto higher levels of care. Family Nurse Practitioners were assigned to multiple roles, whether running sick call, treating trauma patients, or doing wound closure for operative patients.  Army nurses were instrumental in the formation and use 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 instance, led to improvements in personal protective equipment, tourniquet development, and burn care.

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.

Mich. NG AN gives Covid shot to civilianIn response to the COVID-19 crisis, Army nurses have cared for military, dependents and retired beneficiaries in military hospitals, and clinics through in person and virtual appointments. They have deployed throughout the country to help beleaguered civilian hospital staffs. They also managed or performed contact tracing for individuals with confirmed or suspected infections.

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
  Michigan National Guard AN assists in Covid-19 immunizations in Alpena, MI 
 Right from top:
  The 212th Surgical Hospital in Iraq
  Army Nurse trains to provide in-flight care 

Text by ANCA Historian COL (Ret.) C. J. Moore; Photos courtesy of the Army Medical Department Center of History and Heritage, Office of The Surgeon General, US Army; and
The Alpena News