By: Molly Linn
Warriors and Nurses is a multimedia presentation of the stories of five Oshkosh residents who are both veterans and nurses. The event followed a reception beginning at 5:30 p.m. that allowed people to browse the photo exhibit in the Steinhilber Gallery at UW Oshkosh. Guests, veterans, and students were welcomed in the Reeve Union Theater by the event coordinators.
UW Oshkosh journalism professor Grace Lim began the presentation by focusing on the unique combination of qualities that nurses and warriors have.
“As someone who is neither a warrior nor a nurse, I would have to say those are two very different people. If you ask any kid, they’ll say, ‘Warriors battle; nurses heal.’”
As someone who says she is fascinated by people she doesn’t understand, Lim and her students set out to discover the stories of these five veterans. The five journalism students who worked on the project introduced their individual piece, one at a time.
Each piece was a slideshow, set to original music written by Dr. John Beam of the math department and Matt Muelling, a music major. They were narrated by the veterans on whom each slideshow focused.
The event was concluded with a dedication to Craig Birkholz, one of the veterans featured in the first volume of the War: Through Their Eyes project. He was killed in the line of duty as a Fond du Lac police officer in 2011. Shawn Monroe, the veteran’s service coordinator at UW Oshkosh and Chancellor Richard Wells spoke about Birkholz’s time at UW Oshkosh as well as in the army.
Overall, the combination of slideshows, podcasts, photo exhibitions, original music and narration by the veterans themselves, made the event a success. With a book and DVD/CD set for guests, these veterans stories are not soon to be forgotten. Below are the inspiring stories of the five Oshkosh veterans:
Greg Gibbons, a 64-year-old Vietnam veteran and retired nurse was a hospital corpsman in Vietnam, who not only treated US soldiers, but Vietnamese as well. He went to UW Oshkosh and earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing and went on to work for 30 years as a nurse at the Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh.
Tom Ackerman, a second-year nursing student and Iraq war veteran joined the army when he was 17 and served as a combat medic for 14 months. Upon his return, he enrolled in UW Oshkosh to further his nursing education and experience.
Dixie Berres, a woman who joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard “on a whim” in order to see the world served in Iraq for 11 months before attending UW Oshkosh. she is now a nurse at Mercy Medical Center and lives in Oshkosh with her husband, also an Iraq veteran.
Will Anderson enlisted in the US Army in 2004 as a combat medic, and four years later was deployed to Afghanistan. He is currently a third-year nursing student.
Denise Parrish served as an Operating Marine Technician in Germany during Desert Storm. After seeing the nurses care for her brother, she knew she wanted to become a nurse so she could care for others and is now a nurse manager at Mercy Medical Center.