Military Nurse Prepared For Deployment, But Not For Separation From
April 2, 2003--
Lt. Cmdr. Karen Pruett, veteran of the first Persian Gulf
War, is highly trained and prepared to treat soldiers injured in
Operation Iraqi Freedom. But she is less prepared for one challenge:
separation from her children.
she receives a graduate degree from the University of Virginia on
May 18, the military nurse will head to a Naval Hospital in Washington
State to prepare for possible deployment to the Middle East in June.
Her children, 7-year-old Kathyrn and 10-year-old Patrick, will travel
to Ohio to live with Pruett’s brother.
time I will be facing separation from my children, which I didn’t
have during the first Gulf War,” said Pruett. But “my
work is important not because of my freedom, but freedom for my
children. I want a better world for them.”
mother ever truly wants to be separated from her children, even
if passionate about serving her country,” Pruett said. Though
deployment might lead to long separations, “Patrick and Kathryn
see me doing a job that I love and take pride that their mom is
in the military.”
the past two years, Pruett, 37, has coped with life as a single
mother and student, juggling a hectic 10- to 13-credit-hour schedule,
the children’s school activities and doctor’s and dentist’s
appointments. But Pruett is also a professional soldier. The military
family came to Charlottesville from Rota, Spain, so that Pruett
could receive advanced training in U.Va.’s graduate nursing
program. Now a clinical nurse specialist, Pruett will train new
nurses and corpsmen in military hospitals to care for patients during
both war and peacetime.
graduating from Ohio State University in 1989, Pruett joined the
Navy. A year later she reported aboard the 1,000-bed USNS Comfort
and served for eight months in the Persian Gulf. Twelve years later,
Pruett is returning to a military fleet hospital to help care for
soldiers injured in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
enjoy travel and like the idea of trying new things and living in
new places every three to four years,” she said. “I
find my career challenging but rewarding, as I not only work for
the U.S. Navy, I work for my country. ”
Pentagon reports that women make up 15 percent of the active-duty
forces — one in six — in comparison with just more than
one in 10 during the first Persian Gulf War. And 8 percent of women
in the military, like Pruett, are single parents.
said the source of her sense of duty and service might be related
to the death of her father when she was 16 years old. A police officer,
he was killed in the line of duty attempting to thwart a burglar.
saw my father in a service role as a police officer, and the thousands
of people who attended his funeral and offered personal stories
of how he impacted their lives created a goal for me to impact people
lives on some level as he did. … I wanted to do more than
just work in a local hospital, and I saw military service as allowing
me to be a nurse and participate in an even larger scale of service,”
for the children following their mother’s career path, Pruett
Katherine Thompson Jackson, (434) 924-3629