Charlie Hardaker

What Lies Ahead
ENS Charlie Hardaker, RN, Nurse Corps, USNR

“I enjoy what I do in my professional life. And the military opens up doors for me to grow as a professional. That’s why I joined.”
— ENS Charlie Hardaker, RN, Nurse Corps, USNR

A salute from someone with the greeting, Good morning, sir. A salute in response. Going to a football game or walking through an airport and having people express their gratitude. It never gets old to Charlie Hardaker – a Perioperative Nurse in the Navy Reserve.

“Just wearing the uniform is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had,” he says. “The respect I see an Enlisted Sailor show an Officer, and the respect I need to show back. It’s all something I’ll remember the rest of my life.”

Commissioned as an Officer in the Navy Reserve in September 2010, ENS Hardaker lives with his wife and two young sons in Rome, Ga. – where he works as a circulating nurse at a local hospital in civilian life. As a Reservist, he drills one weekend a month in Atlanta, and has completed Annual Training in the operating room at the Naval Hospital Jacksonville. While he hasn’t spent a lot of time in Navy hospitals yet, he’s looking forward to the patient-focused care that’s a hallmark of the Navy.

In the civilian world, patient care has to compete with other factors. ENS Hardaker explains, “It’s a business. You’re working for a hospital that wants to make money. So it’s giddyup and go.”

He contrasts that with the approach to nursing in the Navy. “I think it’ll be a better pace in the Navy. I won’t have to make sure my I’s are dotted and my T’s are crossed and move onto the next patient just to keep things moving.”

Besides being part of an elite health-care network, ENS Hardaker looks forward to what the Navy will provide for him and his family for years to come. Besides health insurance, he’s using his sign-on bonus to pay off student loans and put money away for his children’s education.

“The GI Bill interests me a lot because it’s a way to help provide for my kids,” he says. “I’d like to have the opportunity to send my kids to college. And it worries me what school is going to cost in 18 years.”

He also looks forward to what lies ahead of his career in the Navy.

“Every employer I’ve ever had says, ‘You have to have experience. You have to have experience.’ Well, at some time, you have to be thrown into the mix to get that experience,” ENS Hardaker says.

“With my persistence, the Navy will help me to gain the leadership and experience to do well not only in the military but also in my civilian job,” he continues. “And I think the doors that will open to me as a person and a professional are pretty exciting.”

People Say Thank You

“When I joined the Navy Reserve, I had a lot of family and friends say, ‘Are you sure this is what you want to do?’

They expected me to do this 10 years ago…not at 37 and married with two kids. But now, I’m able to make those decisions and follow through.

Even though I’m not on the front lines, I’m a nurse in the Navy. I’m excited to do that. And people say thank you. I get chill bumps when they say it. It’s my pleasure.”

— ENS Charlie Hardaker, RN, Nurse Corps, USNR