TMCC Veteran of the Month - Sep. 2010
Nancy Brewster-Meredith, MSN/ED, RNC-NIC
I am a full-time nursing instructor at TMCC.
I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and upon graduating from high school in 1975 I did not have the resources to go on to college. Yet, somehow, at the age of 19 I had the good judgment to understand that furthering my education would be the way in which I would become successful in the world.
I joined the United States Army one year after graduation in order to get some kind of training that would serve me well once I was out of the service. The training I chose was "something in the medical field," thinking that this would be something I could do in which I could have a good job afterwards.
I became a combat medic at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, and a clinical specialist at Letterman Army Medical Center on the Presidio, San Francisco, Calif. I did not see combat, thankfully, but I was highly trained in field casualty exercises and nursing care in evacuation hospitals called MUST units (Medical Unit, Selfcontained, Transportable) that were developed during the Vietnam War. These succeeded the MASH units that had been active in the Korean War. The MUST units made it possible to set up a fully functioning hospital in the field with heated and air-conditioned operating rooms, pharmacy, lab and Xray areas all enclosed and connected by hallways. I served as the NCOIC (non-commissioned officer in charge) of the surgical unit in the 352nd Evacuation Hospital, Oakland Army Base. My love for teaching began here where I taught fellow soldiers transportation of the sick and wounded and the safe loading of wounded soldiers into transport helicopters.
Upon discharge from the army in Oakland I was eligible to take the California State Board to be a civilian licensed vocational nurse (LVN). I had found my life's passion as a nurse! As a civilian I began returning to college to further my education as a registered nurse (RN) knowing that someday I would want to teach in the profession I loved.
My experience in the military gave me the confidence that I could do anything! Surviving boot camp as a squad leader had pushed me past physical, mental, and emotional limits that I had not known existed before. I was the 'model soldier' and was awarded the AMERICAN SPIRIT HONOR MEDAL upon basic training graduation. This award, given to only one in 5,000 trainees, was for "high example to comrades in arms."
I have attended educational fairs speaking with army recruiters on my experience in the military and with nursing. I contribute to veterans organizations and participate in veterans recognition opportunities whenever possible such as the Veteran's Day parade. My first semester teaching at TMCC I was honored to raise the army flag with fellow veterans at TMCC's armed services flagpole area on campus. I love to visit the war memorials in Washington, D.C. and ask other veterans to share their stories with me.
My advice to returning veterans would be to take care of yourself, first and foremost. You have experienced something that may affect you for years to come and starting sooner rather than later to address your wellbeing would be best. I would encourage any veteran to take advantage of the GI Bill for education. Furthering one's education may open doors to a veteran who has found or will find a passion for something that they can pass along to others. The experience of serving our country gives us a distinctive and valuable perspective, whatever that may be for each individual.
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