HARLINGEN, Texas –
The U.S. Army has deployed Soldiers including doctors and nurses to hospitals in Texas and California to support the whole-of-America response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of those Soldiers, with the skills and background to provide critical care, couldn’t envision not helping.
“I can’t imagine having lived through this COVID time, with the knowledge and skills that I have, and not being able to say that I jumped in and helped my fellow citizens get through it,” said Capt. Steven Wiseman.
Wiseman is an Army Reserve nurse currently mobilized with an Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force as part of the Department of Defense support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to COVID-19.
He is serving with UAMTF-7458 from the Army Reserve Medical Command, Southeast Medical Area Readiness Support Group, one of six Army UAMTFs that have mobilized to South Texas to support the influx of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically created to respond in this time of crisis, the UAMTF is designed to augment the civilian medical community by delivering a wide range of critical medical capabilities. Each 85-person UAMTF consists of doctors, nurses, combat medics, respiratory specialists, and ancillary personnel that expand the capacity of care that civilian medial facilities can offer their community.
“Our mission is to integrate into the facility and support medical care for the community until a time when they are again able to function independently,” explained Wiseman.
As a critical care nurse, Wiseman is assigned to Valley Baptist Hospital in Harlingen, Texas.
“This is the first time I’ve been called upon to use my skills while wearing a uniform and I’m really proud to have the medical skills and operational knowledge that is needed at this time.”
Wiseman brings direct experience to the mission from treating COVID-19 patients with his civilian employment as an acute care nurse practitioner in the neuro intensive and immediate care units at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, Va.
He is thankful for the support his civilian employer provides regarding his military service.
“My direct supervisor and coworkers have been absolutely amazing, and are folks that really sustain me,” stated Wiseman. “My absence will leave them short and that weighs on me. I am really grateful for them.”
Now a resident of Crozet, Virginia, Wiseman earned a Bachelors Degree in Nursing from Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colo. His experience in both wilderness medicine and nursing in the intensive care environment led him to join the military.
“There is a lot of cross-over between military and wilderness medicine as well as the traumatic injuries I encounter in a hospital environment,” he explained. “I realized that I was well equipped and motivated to use my skills to help those who were sacrificing to make my life safer.”
“The Army has also helped me pay for graduate school, and provided additional avenues to continue advancing my career,” added Wiseman. He used his educational benefits to earn a Masters of Science in Nursing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Ala.
Despite his experience, treating COVID-19 patients remains challenging.
“The systems we are using and the personal protective equipment is new compared the vast majority of care provided previously,” he said. “Physically, it’s demanding and uncomfortable. Emotionally, it can be really overwhelming.”
To manage stress, Wiseman relies on support from his family, listens to a lot of music, and looks forward to riding the new bike he purchased prior to being notified of the mission.
“I have the two coolest kids and the most amazing wife in the world,” he exclaimed. “Thankfully, we have tools that help keep me connected with family and friends.”
Wiseman carries a sense of pride while serving his nation.
“It’s a really hard time to be a healthcare professional when sometimes what we see on a daily basis, or the way we are experiencing this pandemic doesn’t match with the perspectives that others may have,” said Wiseman. “None of us would choose this situation, but I do feel good about the opportunity to help fellow Americans and serve on my own soil.”