March 28, 2016 –
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill.– There is an all to familiar idiom that some live by: “Taking care of number one.” Then there are those who strive to help and take care of others.
In her military capacity, Lt. Col. Susan Wedel, Army Reserve soldier assigned to the 85th Support Command, works as the chief nurse in the Surgeon’s office at the unit. In her civilian capacity, when she’s not busy running the Veterans Administration Hospital in Milwaukee, she works as a surgical nurse.
Wedel joined the Army Reserve as a second lieutenant in 1990 to help pay for her education, and she ended up falling in love with the job and the people. She has remained in uniform for 26 years, despite having her loans repaid.
“That’s when most people leave,” said Wedel. “but I’m still here.”
Wedel chose to become a registered nurse as she felt her two career options were accounting and nursing.
“My sister ended up becoming an accountant,” Wedel explained with a laugh. “And I didn’t want to go into the same thing as her.”
When Wedel joined the ranks she worked at a general hospital, which later turned into the 452nd Combat Support Hospital in Milwaukee.
“I spent the first seventeen years of my career there,” Wedel said. “I (worked in) every department I could.”
While Wedel has no overseas deployments, she has been mobilized to help train others in medical care.
“A low point (for me) was, shortly after I got in (the Army) they tagged a bunch of nurses to go overseas to Desert Storm, and I wasn’t one of them, and I was bummed about that,” explained Wedel.
“But the year I was (mobilized) I taught the combat casualty programs and I was helping non-medical people. So my students were cooks, mechanics, anybody non-medical. I loved that. I did, I enjoyed that.”
Wedel not only chose to serve in uniform, but to serve others who serve in uniform. She has worked at the VA hospital in Milwaukee since her clinical hours in 1987.
“I love working with the veterans. And a lot of our employees are veterans,” said Wedel. “There’s something special about working at the VA, a different connection than in the private sector. And I get to see it every day.”
Wedel stated that she looks forward to her retirement, knowing that her and her husband can travel the country and go camping. But, until then, she wants to continue working and helping soldiers, and she says the most important lesson they can learn is to live life doing what makes them happy and to, “Treat others as you want to be treated.”