Title

Military nurses' experiences returning from war

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2015

Abstract

© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Aim: This paper is a report of a study conducted to describe the military nurses' post-deployment experiences and their meaning. Background: Today, similar to past conflicts, military nurses are faced with many different stressors, moral dilemmas and loss in a compressed amount of time while deployed. These exposures place both military nurses and their families at risk for difficulty adjusting when deployment ends. This study addresses military nurses' experiences returning to personal and professional roles post-deployment. Design: Qualitative, narrative inquiry. Method: Thematic analysis of data collected in 2012 from in-depth semi-structured interviews with ten military nurses. Findings: Description of the experience had five themes: 'learning to manage changes in the environment'; 'facing the reality of multiple losses'; 'feeling like it's all so trivial now'; 'figuring out where I 'fit' in all the chaos'; and 'working through the guilt to move forward'. Description of the meaning of the experience had two themes: 'serving a greater purpose' and 'looking at life through a new lens'. Conclusion: It is critical for military nurses and leaders, healthcare providers, nursing administration/educators, as well as nurses who work alongside military nurses, both in the USA and in other countries, to have a better understanding of the meaning of the deployment experience so they may provide support to these nurses during the post-deployment phase. Lessons learned may benefit future military nurses and may also be transferable to nurses who support humanitarian and disaster missions.

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