Book tells stories of war nurses

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    By CHRISLYN J. BARNES

    They volunteered to defend their country at war, they left their family and friends, and they were even put on the front line. Many of the citizens they defended don?t know the role these nurses played in helping their freedom ring.

    These wartime heroes are finally being recognized this summer in a book written by two BYU professors titled, ?Nurses at War.?

    Dr. Patricia Rushton, associate professor in the College of Nursing, and Lynn Callister, professor in the College of Nursing, are both authors of the book, which is a compilation of personal accounts given by nurses who served in a war.

    ?There are a lot of groups of nurses that fit into the accounts of the book,? Rushton said. ?Whether they were actually in a M.A.S.H. unit in the front, a hospital in the states, or whether they were in the cadet core and never went to war, all of those people have a piece of that story to tell of what it was like to be a nurse during war time.?

    The book, which is expected to be released in early July, contains stories of nurses who served in many different wars, including WWII, Vietnam, and Desert Storm, Rushton said.

    Among the 125 accounts received, nurses who served during 9/11 and in Iraq were also interviewed.

    The process of collecting the nurses accounts started about three or four years ago, and is a partner with the popular book, ?Saints at War,? which was also written by a BYU professor of religious education, Robert Freeman.

    Rushton, a veteran nurse herself, said she was always interested in the ?Saints at War? project, but wanted to learn more about the nurses accounts. When she realized there wasn?t a lot of publicity being given to the nurses through ?Saints at War,? Rushton said she decided she would make that her research project.

    ?I think it is important to give these people [nurses] the opportunity to tell their story so they can get credit for what they did,? Rushton said. ?Nurses in general are often seen as just a large mass of people that take care of patients. Sometimes they are not seen for what they contribute to their community, their faith and their professions.?

    Freeman said the ?Nurses at War? project is such an important part of capturing the role of the nurse, which really is the backdrop of the violence of the war.

    ?The healing process the nurses aid in is more than a physical process,” he said. “It is also soothing the souls of the patients injured. I salute the nurses at war time, just as the soldiers.?

    The goal for both projects, ?Saints at War? and ?Nurses at War,? was to capture the stories of those heroes who won?t be with us much longer, Freeman said.

    ?Latter-day Saints are a people who have a great legacy of recording history,? Freeman said. ?These projects are a great opportunity to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers. It is a time to show their humility, their sacrifice and their lasting freedom.?

    Many of the veterans who were interviewed had never told their story before, not even to family members, said Maile Wilson, co-author of ?Nurses at War.? The veterans either felt the story was too traumatic for them to tell, or they had just never been asked before, she said.

    ?Although not all of the nurses we interviewed were LDS, they all had the same tune at the end of their stories,? she said. ?They were glad they had religion because even though being away from home was hard, they were glad they knew there was a God.?

    The publication of ?Nurses at War? as well as ?Saints at War? is just the beginning of the projects, Rushton said.

    ?This is an ongoing project for all of us. We will keep collecting accounts as long as there are veterans and nurses to tell them,? she said.

    For further information on ?Nurses at War?, go to nursing.byu.edu/Nursesatwar.

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