Eglin nurse relies on home training while in Iraq

  • Published
  • By Capt. Raymond R. Gilbert
  • 96th Medical Group
Since my return to active duty in 2008, I've thought of nothing less than giving back to the greatest country in the world.

For generations, my family defended our freedom; even now one of my uncles rests in Arlington National Cemetery.

Being a nurse, I wanted to serve something larger than myself. A cause so important, that anyone could see my service was as vital to the mission as the solider armed with a weapon or a pilot soaring in the skies above.

Here in Iraq, our mission is to save lives 24/7, 365 days a year and everyone knows it.
I've been told by soldiers and commanders alike, "Knowing you are here enables us to do our job to the fullest. If one of us gets wounded, we know that you've got our back." That's a good feeling.

In my squadron, the 96th Inpatient Operations Squadron, we are constantly training. I didn't realize that one day I would be called upon to perform the same assessment and skills I practiced on a dummy, which seemed somewhat unimportant at the time.

Patient care can sometimes become repetitious. It was difficult for me to see the relevance of it all until now. Transporting patients to other hospitals via ambulance was very routine and just thought of as one of those tasks I needed to complete.

These days I find myself in a strange country surrounded by strange people, but I'm carrying out the mission for which I've been prepared. I am part of a team who is saving lives and training this nation to sustain itself after our mission here is complete.

Countless hours have been spent teaching current and future medical personnel to better take care of our own. For many of our Iraqi counterparts, these classes are the first ever exposure to the medical procedures and technology we take for granted.

I still see some of the same types of patients I cared for at Eglin: chest pain, GI issues, pneumonia and post surgical care patients, but I'm not transporting patients to another local hospital.

I'm sending heroes home via aerovac or helping pack a patient up for a dust off to another facility. I'm a fully qualified, fully prepared registered nurse and I'm doing what I came to do--give back to my country.