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2 former U.S. Army nurses send message to those in the fight against COVID-19

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    Brevard, NC (WLOS) — Gov. Roy Cooper’s safer at home plan to lifting the COVID-19 restrictions does not include indoor public spaces where 10 or more people can gather — like museums.

The Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas in Brevard is closed to visitors, but it continues to honor veterans by posting content on social media and on its web site.

Photo journalist Ken Corn sat down with two former U.S. Army nurses to talk about what today’s civilian nurses face in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There will be times when you just feel like breaking into tears, and you will just keep going,” retired Lt. Col. Jana Gruber said

Gruber, who served in a field hospital during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, sat down with News 13 at the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas to talk about how her experiences as a combat nurse mirror the experiences many hospital nurses are facing during the pandemic.

Gruber, a Transylvania County resident, served in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Army Reserves for 20 years. The U.S. Army Reserves deployed Gruber to Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War in the early 90s, so she knows what it feels like when the hospital fills with patients during a crisis.

“It’s similar because when we went, we didn’t know if we were going to be there two months or 12 months,” Gruber said. “And I think that same thing is happening now where the folks in the hospital don’t know how long it’s going to last.”

Being a veteran, Gruber knows nurses in emergency rooms across America are risking their own lives to save others.

“I think they are heroes,” Gruber said. “They have left their homes, a lot of them, they don’t want to go home and expose their families.”

Facing danger everyday causes stress and anxiety, Gruber said. Having the courage to hide those feeling and focus on the patients will make you a stronger person.

“You smile, you remain calm,” Gruber said. “Even if you think it is not true, you tell them that it’s going to be alright.”

Henderson County resident and World War II veteran Dorothy Managan also served in the U.S. Army as a nurse trained to treat battle field trauma. Managan also believes she has advice that could help nurses on the frontlines fighting COVID-19.

“It was a wonderfully challenging experience,” said Managan, who volunteered for the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.

She took care of returning American troops that had been prisoners of war.

“The main thing they need was tender nursing care,” Managan said.

Speaking from experience, Managan also thinks caregivers should put on a brave face for patients.

“Letting them know that they are important,” Managan said.

During this pandemic, Gruber said nurses should be proud of what they have endured.

“Take all the accolades they give you. You have done extraordinary things and an extraordinary duty,” she said.

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