In any given year, nearly 20 percent of the 370 students in the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science are active or retired military. In honor of Veterans Day, the school paid tribute to these heroes from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines at a celebration on Nov. 8.
“This is our way of saying a small thank you to all of you for the service you have given to our country both in times of war and peace,” Sally B. Hardin, dean of the nursing school, told attendees.
Those heroes included Navy Lt. Commander Heather King (pictured above) who served in Iraq in 2004 and then served as chief anesthetist for the USNS Mercy’s Cruise in 2008, just nine months after her son, Riley, was born in 2008. Today, Riley is in kindergarten and King is working on her PhD, studying how therapies like acupuncture can help veterans with insomnia and sleep deprivation. Those issues are often “big problems” for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, she said.
More than 80 guests, including alumni and current students, many in uniform, along with a group of current NROTC (Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps) students from USD’s program attended the nursing school’s second annual Salute to Military Nurses.
“I’m just happy that my alma mater is supporting the military the way that it does,” said Conrado Perales (pictured below), who served nearly four years in the Marines before completing the Master’s Entry in Nursing Program (MEPN) and now works in the operating room at the Naval Medical Center San Diego. “I love what I do.”
Indeed, the school’s efforts include establishing the first Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program with options in military mental health and community mental health. With 65,000 military returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the demand is significant. The program produced its first graduates last May. The school also be establishing a special laboratory for research focusing on traumatic brain injuries, post traumatic stress disorder and other medical issues confronting returning forces and veterans.
Finally, the school has joined forces with the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence on a pilot program aimed at improving the health of returning forces. Funding supported doctoral nursing students committed to advancing health care for veterans. Because of the program’s success at USD, the Jonas Center will expand its funding to include other nursing schools.
During the celebration, Hardin was presented with a proclamation supporting the school’s efforts for veterans from State Sen. Joel Anderson.
Last spring, Hardin attended a national meeting led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, where nursing school educators pledged support to the nation’s veterans as part of the “Joining Forces” campaign.
– Liz Harman