Navy nurses are joining peers worldwide to celebrate National Nurses Day on May 6, in a year of extraordinary effort in fighting the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In addition to National Nurses Day, the nation will look to honor nurses for the service during National Nurses week, which runs from May 6-12. National Nurses Week is an internationally celebrated recognition event that was first observed in 1954 on the centenary anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea.
For Navy nurses, May 13 also marks the 112th birthday of the Navy Nurse Corps. Then-President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Naval Appropriations Bill that authorized the establishment of the Nurse Corps as a unique staff corps of the Navy.
Cmdr. Charlene Rena Ohliger, from Salem, Va., is assigned as the force nurse, assigned to Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic (COMNAVAIRLANT). Ohliger, who previously served on board USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) from 2011-2014 discussed what the annual Nurses week means to hear.
“Part of Nurses Week is appreciation for what our nurses go through day in and day out. It’s that time to reflect on what has gone on that year and re-energize and recharge to start out for the next year. We all need that respite at some point and, no matter where we’re at, that is Nurses Week to me,” said Ohliger.
Ohliger has served the Navy for 31 years as both a Navy nurse and hospital corpsman. During the COVID-19 pandemic her unit has been reporting claimancy health statistics, and ensuring proper personal protective equipment is available to Sailors and medical procedures.
This Nurses Week is a pinnacle event in a year of medical heroes. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Navy nurses across the United States are stepping up to the diverse and changing challenges of fighting the virus. The Navy Nurse Corps is composed of more than sixteen specialties and subspecialties to answer these challenges completely.
“I had the privilege to work a lot with the fleet and to work outside the traditional walls of a medical treatment facility. It’s amazing the opportunities that our nurses have to expand and serve the mission,” Ohliger said. “We have en-route care nurses; we have nurses that are working in austere environments. We have nurses that are working with the community during humanitarian missions. The nursing field is so diverse and the Navy Nurse Corps offers so many opportunities.”
COMNAVAIRLANT is responsible for six nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, 54 aircraft squadrons, 1,200 aircraft and 43,000 officers, enlisted and civilian personnel based on the East Coast of the United States. It provides combat ready, sustainable naval air forces with the right personnel, properly trained and equipped, with a focus on readiness, operational excellence, interoperability, safety, and efficient resourcing.