It started out we were within two miles of an enemy prisoner of war camp that had 14,000 soldiers that had surrendered and then during the Shite uprising in Southern Iraq we started to get families and kids from Shatrah and Basrah that the infantry would bring down in the Chinook helicopters and what happened was the Republican Guard went in and were taking over the hospitals and the schools and the buildings and they were throwing out these patients. So the infantry would bring them down and we took care of them. We were pretty busy. But it was good. We lived in a tent. It was pretty—you know, sometimes the tents would blow down, it would rain. We were in a desert, but it would pour. There was mud, there was grit everywhere. But you just developed such a good relationship with the other 15 women in the tent. Everybody eats together. Even when the physicians weren’t on call, if there was a mass casualty they just put it out over the PA system and everybody would come and help. It was really a cool bonding experience. I remember when I went into a field hospital my mother said to me, “Jan, I can’t believe you’re going into a field hospital. Remember you never even went to Girl Scout camp because you hated bugs and dirt and dust.” [laughs] You grow and change when you need the maturity. So I look at it as a highlight of my life. A really good experience.
Janet Hale discusses her experiences as a nurse in the United States Army Reserves. She joined the Reserves in 1967 during the Vietnam War era and before retiring with the rank of Colonel she was deployed for the first Gulf War and mobilized for the second Gulf War. In addition to her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Janet went on to earn a master’s degree in management and a master’s degree in nursing as well as a Ph.D. in Health Disease Prevention and taught in Kansas and Alaska. She describes her experiences in Iraq as one of the highlights of her life, but acknowledges it was stressful balancing caring for soldiers during a time of war with the responsibilities of family and she explains that reintegration with family can also be difficult after serving in a foreign country. After 33 years of service, Janet retired in 2004 and she currently is a professor and dean at the University of Massachusetts Medical School where she shares her talents by teaching and conducting research. She assisted in producing a report for Massachusetts entitled, “Massachusetts Veterans’ Long-Term Care and Housing Master Plan” that provides information on the care of veterans over the next fifty years.