Embracing the Past, Informing the Future: Military Nurses’ Wartime Experiences


Name: Kristal Melvin

Rank: LTC

Organization: The Geneva Foundation

Performance Site: Madigan Army Medical Center, Fort Lewis, WA

Year Published: 2014

Abstract Status: Final


Future wartime experiences of military nurses can be enhanced by understanding the experiences of veteran nurses who have previously deployed to war. As we examine the past, it is possible to discover patterns that illustrate both continuity and change; these patterns may be used to shape wartime experiences for nurses who deploy in the future. Although historic accounts of nurses during wartime have been published in both the popular and the professional literature, there are very few that make comparisons across various timeframes, conflicts, theaters of war let alone the three military nurse corps (Army, Navy, and Air Force). We did not locate any studies in which researchers combined interview data with other data sources to build a more complete description of what it means to be a military nurse during wartime.

The purpose of this study is to better understand and explain what it means to be a military nurse during wartime by exploring the narratives, letters and photographs of Army, Navy, and Air Force nurses deployed during a military conflict from WWII to the present. Using an interpretive descriptive design, we will examine nurses’ war experiences within and across timeframes, conflicts, theaters and the three military services. Potential areas of deeper understanding include education and training, leadership, ethics, reintegration, resiliency, and wellness.

The research aims are to: 

1. Describe the wartime experiences of nurses from World War II to the present to include identifying useful ways to prepare to deploy, manage life in theatre, and resume life in the U.S. on return. 

2. Compare the narratives, letters and photographs of wartime nurses across conflicts to identify similarities and differences. 

3. Integrate data from aims 1 and 2 to provide a description of the American military wartime nurse experience. 

4. Produce a set of recommendations to inform the mentoring, leadership, and training of military nurses going to war.

Learning from nurse veterans’ experiences may help future military nurses to prepare for deployment to a war zone. Findings from the proposed study could be incorporated into deployment to a war zone. Findings from the proposed study could be incorporated in deployment training for nurses, allowing present and future generations of military nurses to from those who have before them about deploying, returning, reintegrating, and living. 


Final Report is available on NTRL: https://ntrl.ntis.gov/NTRL/dashboard/searchResults/titleDetail/PB2019100...