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Image of CPT Heather Fonder, AN, CRNA

CPT Heather Fonder, AN, CRNA

CPT Heather Fonder, AN, CRNA

I started my Army career with an ROTC scholarship for nursing right out of high school - like many, I was looking for a way to help pay for college. I attended the University of Minnesota and transferred to Hampton University’s School of Nursing, graduating and receiving my commission in December 1999. My first assignment after the Officer Basic Course, as for most nurses, was as a 66H medical-surgical nurse, at Fort Stewart, Georgia. I attended the Critical Care Nurse Course at Brooke Army Medical Center in January 2002, earned the coveted 8A identifier, and found myself at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center as my follow on, an assignment that changed my life.

When I first arrived at Landstuhl, it was a sleepy ICU which had an average census of 3 patients - mainly soft rule outs for MI. January 2003 that all changed, and I became a part of one of the busiest Army hospitals. We quickly expanded to a 30 bed ICU, averaged 27 patients and many times had 35+ to care for. Patients overflowed into the PACU and hallways, as we were the main hub for the soldiers who were wounded in support of OIF and OEF. During my time at Landstuhl, I was able to care for and touch the lives of many of the bravest people our country has to offer. I was honored to do so and only wished I could do the job of an Army nurse in a deployed setting, as I have yet to be deployed unlike many of my peers.

With a thirst for education, wanting a challenge, and in an effort to make myself more deployable (I know many people would think that crazy), I applied to the U.S. Army Graduate Program in Anesthesia Nursing. Now, almost 2 years later, I have 10 months until completion, the young high school graduate who was looking to the Army as a way to help pay for college has come full circle. I love the Army, I love being an Army Nurse and caring for soldiers, and it would be an honor and a privilege to do so by their side in a deployed setting or in a fixed facility as an Army CRNA.

Image of CPT Paul Jones, AN, CRNA (pictured in center)

CPT Paul Jones, AN, CRNA
(pictured in center)

CPT Paul Jones, AN, CRNA

I first entered the Army as a reservist in 1992 as a 71D or personnel records specialist. I attended the Army ROTC program at Indiana University at Indianapolis and graduated in 1999. I was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, where I worked in the ICU for two years. I attended the Critical Care nursing course in June 2002 and was then stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia, where I was assigned to the SICU. After two years of working at Fort Gordon, I decided it was time to apply to the US Army Nurse Anesthesia program. I first became interested in anesthesia when I was in nursing school and was exposed to a nurse anesthetist. Later as an ICU nurse, I saw many patients in terrible pain and discomfort. I wanted to become a nurse anesthetist so that I would be able to effectively and quickly treat those in pain. I was always drawn to the autonomy and responsibility that came with being a nurse anesthetist. This program has been the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. While every day is stressful, I can't imagine a better feeling than a happy, pain-free patient thanking me for the great job that I did with their anesthetic.

Image of Capt. Carlos Villanueva, USAF, CRNA

Capt. Carlos Villanueva, USAF, CRNA

Capt. Carlos Villanueva, USAF, CRNA

Initially out of nursing school I did not know I wanted to do anesthesia nursing. After approximately four years of nursing, I started becoming interested in anesthesia. Being a civilian at the time, I started looking for possible ways to go to school and still support my family. I had made my decision to join the Air Force Reserves when 9/11 happened. I decided at that moment to become active duty. After 5 years of nursing as a civilian I joined the AF working at Wilford Hall Medical Center in the Emergency Department. Since then I’ve had the privilege in 2004 of serving in Iraq, which only helped to confirm my decision to pursue anesthesia. I was selected in Sept 2004 as a candidate for the Air Force to attend the US Army Graduate Program in Anesthesia Nursing. Although this has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done, it has also proven to be very worthwhile and satisfying. I see no greater honor than to devote my career serving military members and their families in a career that I love.

Image of Capt. Carlos Villanueva, USAF, CRNA

MAJ Rob Harmon, AN CRNA

MAJ Rob Harmon, AN CRNA

I started my Army career as a medic in the infantry and field artillery. I attended nursing school at Austin Peay University. After receiving my BSN, I was commissioned by the Army Nurse Corp. After working a year in medical/surgical nursing, I attended the Army’s Critical Care Nursing Course. My work experience includes critical care, emergency nursing, nursing education, and nursing administration. Shortly after 9/11, I was deployed to Uzbekistan to set up the first combat support hospital for our troops in Afghanistan fighting the war on terrorism. It was there that I realized the importance and necessity of the Army CRNA, and made the decision to pursue that career as soon as I returned back to the states. It wasn’t hard choosing the Army’s anesthesia program because I wanted to attend the best program and train to practice anesthesia in the most austere conditions. The Army Anesthesia program has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. But what is truly nice is the financial freedom I enjoy while attending this program. I receive my full pay and I look forward to a $15,000 yearly bonus when I graduate. After my, service obligation is complete my professional bonus will increase to $35,000 a year. Not a bad deal for attending one of the best programs in the country and serving our brave soldiers in their time of need.

Image of MAJ Mike Cline, AN CRNA

MAJ Mike Cline, AN CRNA

MAJ Mike Cline, AN CRNA

I started my Army career as a combat engineer. I became interested in the medical aspect of the military as I was exposed to the Army healthcare system. I was impressed with the educational preparation and professionalism. After earning my BSN, I was commissioned as an Army nurse. While deployed in Iraq, I was truly impressed by the role that the Army CRNAs played in saving the lives of our soldiers, civilians, and even the enemy casualties. After returning to the states, I decided to pursue the Nurse Anesthesia program through the military. I one day hope to be an example to others in the same situation.

Image of CPT Samuel A Bracken, AN, CRNA

CPT Samuel A Bracken, AN, CRNA

CPT Samuel A Bracken, AN, CRNA

I enlisted in the army in February 1990 as an operating room technician (91D). I served during the first Gulf War and in Somalia. Since I chose to make the Army a career, I began using the educational benefits to advance my career. I earned my BSN on active duty through the AECP and was commissioned in July 1998. As a nurse, I practiced in many settings from surgery to ICU to the ER. I chose to pursue a career in anesthesia for two reasons. First, I enjoy the science involved from Anatomy to Pharmacology. Secondly, I appreciate seeing immediate results and patient satisfaction by preventing or reducing stress, anxiety, and pain associated with surgery. I sought the USAGPAN program for my education in anesthesia. It is one of the highest respected nurse anesthesia programs, ranking second in the nation. It also had the added benefit of a fully funded program with full military pay and benefits. Since officer advance school I have developed the motto "whatever it takes" to help me strive for success in everything I do. I attribute this motto and a good attitude as keys in my success in the Army, in anesthesia, and in life.

Image of CPT Tim Dinh, AN, CRNA

CPT Tim Dinh, AN, CRNA

CPT Tim Dinh, AN, CRNA

I entered the Army in 1992 and attended basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. I then served as a 91D (operating room specialist) at Walter Reed Army Medical Center from 1992 through 1996. I was accepted to the AMEDD Enlisted Commissioning Program and completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Maryland in 1998. Upon completion, I was assigned to Reynolds Army Community Hospital at Fort Sill, OK. I worked in Med/Surg/PEDS/ICU and the Operating Room. I was then assigned to Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg in May of 2002. In January of 2003, I was selected to be the OR nurse for the 274th Airborne Forward Surgical Team, which deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The reason I chose the Army Graduate Program in Anesthesia Nursing was because of my experience in Iraq. My FST was involved in many missions at the front lines supporting the 3rd Infantry division, 101st Airborne, and the 82nd Airborne in their initial assaults. I experienced the pain of losing a soldier and the honor in serving them. It was our Nurse Anesthetists that were privileged enough to escort them back in the Blackhawk when they were critical. I hope that privilege will be mine one day.