Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

From the battlefield to the homefront: MHS nurses continue to serve

Seven soldiers standing behind an American flag Army Col. Tammy Funari (far right) poses with other members of U.S. Central Command's multidisciplinary joint clinical operations team after a March 2019 site visit at a medical treatment facility in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Col. Tammy Funari)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Nurses Week | National Nurses Week

In peacetime and war, nurses in the Military Health System provide medical care around the globe to service members, retirees, and their families. It's a critically important function -- but it's not the only role for nurses. More than 100 years after nurses became a permanent part of the armed forces, their opportunities have greatly expanded. Nurses now fill important positions in administration, leadership, research, and education. And when a crisis like COVID-19 hits, nurses nimbly pivot to care for patients and maintain force readiness.

Approximately 28,000 women and men serve as nurses in the Military Health System across the globe. Those ranks include Army Col. Tammy Funari. She serves as the chief nurse, and chief of clinical operations, for U.S. Central Command or USCENTCOM at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. Funari also serves as consultant to the Army Surgeon General for medical surgical nursing.

"The primary focus has been trauma, of course, because we've been deployed at war for going on 20 years now," Funari said. "But the operational tempo went up considerably for the Surgeon Directorate as soon as COVID-19 hit."

The threat of the highly contagious virus was of particular concern downrange, Funari said. "This could easily get brought into theater with all of the troop rotations. And what you already have, with supplies and personnel, is all you have to work with."

To meet the challenge, Funari pulled together chief nurses from the military treatment facilities, clinical operations chiefs, and the performance improvement team from the Joint Trauma System directorate. Together, they established an educational platform for vital skills needed to care for critically ill COVID-19 patients.

They also created, with deployed nurses and physicians, an operational playbook. It addresses COVID-19 concerns for U.S. forces in the USCENTCOM area of responsibility. The playbook answers many questions from the field. And it serves as a focal point that links the available resources including the newly published DoD clinical practice guidelines for COVID-19 care in austere environments. The playbook also describes methods to enhance the skills of the nurses and medics already downrange, and provides a one-stop shop for finding clinical support.

"My favorite role as a nurse is when I can coach and mentor junior health care professionals," Funari said.

Navy Lt. Berly Vincent also thrives in the educator role. He serves as a clinical nurse specialist in the medical oncology nursing unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Vincent has developed education and training programs on topics including blood products and tumor radiation therapies. When COVID-19 hit, Vincent and two other clinical nurse specialists developed a training plan to ensure staff at Walter Reed were trained to properly take care of COVID-19 patients. The plan also was shared with other MTFs.

"We've already formally trained over 1,000 nurses," Vincent said, with a combination of online education, hands-on training, and simulations.

Vincent says he was inspired to join the military by his older sister, who's also a Navy nurse.

"Ever since my freshman year in college, I knew this is what I wanted to do," he said. "I enjoy impacting the nursing role, the hospital, and patient care by implementing evidence-based best practices."

MHS nurses keep service members medically ready to deploy anywhere in the world. They also protect, promote, and improve health care in support of operational objectives.

U.S. Public Health Service Lt. Bobby Taylor helps care for MHS beneficiaries through his role as program manager for the MHS Nurse Advice Line. With physical distancing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taylor said the Nurse Advice Line is crucial to ensure the 9.5 million MHS beneficiaries get the care they need from registered nurses anytime, at no cost, without leaving the safety and comfort of home.

"It's rewarding work for me," Taylor said. "I'm helping make sure we provide the best avenues for treatment and care for callers."

Indeed, providing the best possible care is at the heart of every role nurses hold. Air Force Lt. Col. Jennifer Jamison-Gines is an acute care nurse practitioner consultant, and deputy director of critical care, at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. Her career includes several deployments with critical care air transport teams. For five months in 2006, she cared for over 75 patients in 33 air evacuation missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Of all the really cool stuff that I've been able to do, the most rewarding is the time I get to spend at the bedside," Jamison-Gines said. "It's a privilege to escort patients through this, to care for them and ease their suffering, and to be written into their family history."

You also may be interested in...

Army’s 773rd administers mobile COVID-19 testing during DEF21

Article
6/4/2021
Three military personnel, wearing masks and lab coats, pose for a picture in an Albanian lab.

Approximately 800 Army Reserve soldiers from the U.S. and Europe participated in DEFENDER-Europe 21.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Readiness Capabilities

Mental Health Panel Discusses Impact of COVID-19

Article
6/3/2021
Military personnel wearing face mask speaking on a panel

Walter Reed Bethesda hosts mental health panel to discuss the impacts of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Mental Health Awareness Month | Coronavirus | Psychological Fitness

Based on data, MHS experts encourage vaccines for adolescents

Article
6/1/2021
Sister and brother smiling at each other

With the Pfizer vaccine approved for youth ages 12 to 15, MHS adolescents are lining up to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Children's Health | Vaccine Eligibility

“Shots in arms” – OPT planned & coordinated to meet COVID-19 mission

Article
5/28/2021
Military personnel sitting around a table talking

The Department of Defense’s COVID-19 Operational Planning Team has been the quiet force behind the DOD’s vaccination effort since November.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

VAX Facts: Which Vaccine is Right for Me?

Video
5/28/2021
DHA Seal

Dr. LC Collins talks about the importance of getting the first vaccine available to you. Don't hold out for a certain brand; they're all safe and effective.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

VAX Facts: Breastfeeding after the COVID-19 Vaccine

Video
5/28/2021
DHA Seal

Dr. LC Collins encourages people who are breastfeeding to get the vaccine. Since the vaccine doesn't contain live virus, you can't pass COVID to your baby.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

VAX Facts: Do I Need the Vaccine if I Had COVID?

Video
5/28/2021
DHA Seal

Dr. LC Collins talks about the importance of getting vaccinated even if you already had COVID. We're not sure how long natural immunity lasts, so getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

What is an mRNA vaccine?

Video
5/28/2021
DHA Seal

Dr. LC Collins explains how mRNA vaccines work to protect you from COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Are mRNA vaccines safe?

Video
5/28/2021
DHA Seal

Dr. LC Collins explains the years of research and ongoing monitoring to show how mRNA vaccines are safe and effective.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

COVID-19 Vaccination Card Second Shot

Infographic
5/27/2021
Graphic saying that keeping track of your vaccination card is important. Includes a helpful tips section, a link to www.tricare.mil/covidvaccine, and what to do when you didn’t get your vaccination card or don’t have a copy. The TRICARE logo is on the bottom right of the page.

Keep track of your vaccination card. Tips include keeping your card on you and taking a picture of it as a backup copy.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Costs and Documentation | Coronavirus

Adolescents ages 12 and older eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations

Article
5/27/2021
Son of military personnel receiving his COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer vaccine now authorized for children 12 and older.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Town Hall May 26 2021

Video
5/26/2021
Town Hall May 26 2021

RADM Anne Swap will discuss the National Capital Region's response to COVID-19

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | National Capital Region Market

COVID-19 Town Hall with RADM Anne M. Swap

Article
5/24/2021
MHS and Military OneSource NCR COVID-19 Town Hall with Rear Admiral Anne M. Swap, Director, National Capital Medical Directorate, Wednesday, May 26 at 11:50 a.m. ET

The purpose of this event is to inform National Capital Region (NCR) beneficiaries of DHA’s efforts with battling coronavirus (COVID-19) and encourage them to not delay care.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Adirim, Place laud DHA response to COVID-19 in briefing

Article
5/21/2021
Defense Health Agency Director Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place speaking at a press conference

Dr. Terry Adirim, acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, and Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, director of the Defense Health Agency, provided a COVID-19 update during a Pentagon press briefing.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Sailors continue to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Article
5/20/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask receiving the COVID-19 vaccine

Sailors continue to voluntarily receive one of the three available COVID-19 vaccines.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 34

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.