Caring for our servicemembers

I graduated from nursing school at the University of Maryland in May 1974 and had already contacted a recruiter about joining the Air Force, following in my dad's footsteps. I had to wait for the results of state boards (and that took 19 weeks back then). So it took until October until I was officially on board. I was assigned to Andrews AFB just outside of Washington, D.C., and worked on a surgical ward. We worked with a great variety of surgical patients. The one I remember the most was a colonel who had required a large amount of his lower face to be removed due to cancer. He was always so pleasant to his nurses. He was being fed by a nasogastric tube, so of course could not taste anything he was fed. All pureed food and medications. One day he asked me if he could just have a cup of coffee. Even knowing that he would not taste it, I poured that cup of coffee down that tube. He was so grateful. That's why I always wanted to be a nurse. To provide comfort and care for my patients as much as I could.

Donna Gates
1st Lt., USAF

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