Experience in Afghanistan Convinces Veteran to Help Others as Nurse

Chris Wilson, RN
Army veteran Chris Wilson decided to become nurse after seeing the care his friends received after being injured in Afghanistan in 2012.

Chris Wilson, RN, will never forget April 15, 2012. That was the day Taliban fighters launched a series of coordinated attacks throughout Afghanistan, including an assault on the military base in Jalalabad where Wilson was serving as a captain in the U.S. Army.

Wilson’s unit helped repel the attackers, but many of his friends were hurt in the process. He frequently visited those friends at the nursing station, which sparked a new mission for him.

“I had a watershed moment watching the nurses take care of my team,” Wilson said. “At that point, becoming a nurse was what I felt like I needed to do.”

When Wilson returned to civilian life in Centertown, Missouri, he applied to the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at University of Missouri’s Sinclair School of Nursing. Students who hold a bachelor’s degree in another specialty can earn their nursing degree in just 15 months.

“The School of Nursing is ranked one of the top programs in the country, and it was right in my back yard,” Wilson said. “None of the other accelerated programs compared to what Mizzou had to offer, and I wanted to complete my degree as soon as possible.”

He began his nursing education in May 2016 and graduated in July 2017. Wilson took a month off in August as he and his wife, Nicole, welcomed the first of their two sons. He started his new career in September 2017 as a surgical intensive care unit nurse at MU Health Care’s University Hospital.

Wilson and his colleagues care for patients with serious injuries, including those hurt by car and farm accidents, burns and gun shots. Wilson went back to school to obtain two additional certifications — critical care nurse and advanced burn life support nurse — to provide his patients with the best care possible.

“It’s been very rewarding, and I absolutely love what I do,” Wilson said.

As a member of the Navy Reserve, Wilson also does what motivated him to get into nursing in the first place: caring for soldiers. His annual training exercise provides him the chance to serve in hospitals or Navy bases.

“I wanted to care for soldiers, and in becoming a nurse, I’m best able to do that,” Wilson said. “It feels good that I’m finally able to complete this goal. Wherever I’m needed, I can help my fellow servicemen and women.”

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