Jennifer Mitchell

The World We Live In
ENS Jennifer Mitchell, RN, Nurse Corps, USNR

“Being able to relate to patients I work with daily at the Veterans Hospital is really something that has enriched my professional life. It allows me to offer more comprehensive care. It helps me to be a better nurse.”
— ENS Jennifer Mitchell, RN, Nurse Corps, USNR

When Jennifer Mitchell talks about her service in the Navy Reserve, she uses the word opportunity a lot. She also speaks of what’s happening in the world we live in more than the average 31-year-old.

An Iowa native, ENS Mitchell is a full-time Perioperative Nurse at the VA Hospital in Madison, Wis., and a Navy Reservist – commissioned in December 2010.

“I really enjoy feeling like I am a support to the efforts made worldwide for the current conflicts going on,” she says. “Though not on an everyday basis, I’m involved and can help with the skills that I have. That’s incredibly validating.”

She adds, “I work with people from all different walks of life who have had so many different experiences in and out of the Navy. They are extremely knowledgeable in the jobs they’re doing and very understanding of the rules and expectations they’re working under. It’s a very high level of care.”

ENS Mitchell has also enjoyed more tangible benefits. “When I signed my commitment with the Navy, I got a sign-on bonus because my subspecialty is something that was in high need. By the time I finish my initial commitment with the Navy, I’ll have basically paid off my entire student loan.”

While the Navy Reserve traditionally involves serving one weekend a month and two weeks a year, ENS Mitchell appreciates the flexibility of her medical detachment through the Naval Medical Center San Diego. “With a flex group, I’m committed to serving a certain number of hours during the year. They allow us the ability to drill when it’s convenient, as long as we maintain our hours and stay on top of all of our training.”

This summer, she hopes to travel with the USNS Mercy as the hospital ship heads out to provide humanitarian support and strengthen bonds throughout the Pacific region. “International travel is something that really appeals to me. Seeing different cultures and being a part of the bigger picture.”

She adds, “One of the main reasons I wanted to join the Navy was to be able to do that kind of humanitarian work. As a nurse, I’m compelled to work with all kinds of populations and trying to make a little bit of a difference in anybody’s life that has a need for it. It’s really important to utilize our resources and those opportunities to try and make the world we live in a better place.”

Seven Days At Camp Pendleton

“Last year, a group of medical people went to Camp Pendleton for field training.

We had mock convoys in Humvees with IED (improvised explosive device) explosions and had to respond to casualties. We did Humvee rollovers in a simulator, where we had to evacuate and treat everybody. We learned land navigation and saw videos about what’s really happening in the Middle East – learning about IEDs and the medical care needed to support people in combat situations.

It was eye-opening.

As civilians, we aren’t really connected to what’s going on. But this is the life Americans are living every day. Fighting and being scared. Watching people they care about get injured. All to protect the freedoms we have.

Seven days at Camp Pendleton solidified my decision to join the Navy Reserve. My sacrifice pales in comparison. It’s the least I can do.”

— ENS Jennifer Mitchell, RN, Nurse Corps, USNR