Former Marine Corps officer turned Army critical care nurse serves on COVID-19 front lines

From a Marine Corps logistics officer in Iraq, to a critical care nurse serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic for the Army Reserve, Army Capt. Tineisha Nagle has made a life dedicated to serving her country.

In middle school, Nagle knew she was destined to serve in the military.

“There is a camaraderie within the military that you just don’t get with civilian or federal careers,” she said. “I knew the military would be a life-long career for me, and the Reserve affords you the opportunity to hold both a military and civilian career ó†I love that.”

HM3 Najii Thomas assists Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Bradley, Chief of Trauma at the NATO Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Together they performed laparoscopic surgery on a patient.

In 2005, she graduated from the Naval Academy and entered the Marine Corps where she served as a logistics officer for twelve and a half years on both active duty and in the Reserve. Now, Nagle is finishing her first year as a critical care nurse in the Army Reserve.

“I became interested in the health care side of the military during my deployments to Iraq as a Marine Corps lieutenant and took the necessary steps to become a registered nurse,” Nagle said. “I felt that the Army would provide the most unique and expansive opportunities for RNs, so I decided to recommission into the Army Reserve.”

After only one year in the Army Reserve, Nagle was mobilized under the 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support) as a member of the Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force (UAMTF) 328-1; a new construct designed specifically to provide support to the ongoing COVID-19 military medical relief effort. The task force is now a part of the broad response efforts being led by U.S. Army North at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In preparing for the mission, Nagle stated that she read a news article where the 807th MC(DS) Commander, Army Maj. Gen. Joe Heck, said, “This is a totally different mission than has ever existed before, “These words struck her as she was still relatively new to the Army and still learning about the history of the Nurse Corps. Nagle said, “I can appreciate that there is something very special about the UAMTF mission, and I am very honored to be a part of it at this stage of my career.”

During her mobilization, Nagle worked within a designated COVID-19 intensive care unit providing support to medical staff at Yuma Regional Medical Center in Yuma, Ariz.

When talking about her experience at Yuma Regional Medical Center, Nagle said, “It has been a quick turn-around on learning the daily protocols of the intensive care unit, without the traditional weeks of orientation before being integrated as part of the staff.

“Under normal circumstances, the integration into the local medical staff would take weeks. These days, time is a luxury that no one can afford as staff are overstretched and worn down with long hours and patients continually needing critical care. Nagle has had some familiarity with working in a COVID-19 environment prior to the mobilization, but this was the first time she worked directly at a patient’s bedside for a complete shift.

U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Tanisha Nagel, a registered nurse with U.S. Army Reserve Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force 328-1 assigned to support Yuma Regional Medical Center in Yuma, Ariz., provides her patient’s nutrition therapy to help with healing, reduce risk of infection and help the patient get better quickly, Jan. 30, 2021. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible Department of Defense support to the whole-of-government COVID-19 response. (U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Helen Miller)

“I was familiar with what PPE and special precautions needed to be taken, and felt comfortable going into this mission with that knowledge,” Nagle said.

As an Army Reserve health care professional, Nagle’s role is to support the front-line service members who defend the nation at home and abroad. During the fight against COVID-19 she was in a new role, in the trenches alongside her civilian health care counterparts, to serve the American people, right here in her own backyard.†

“Reserve health care professionals from all communities have been asked to augment medical staff currently stressed beyond capacity,” Nagle said. “On any deployment there is an inherent mission of winning the hearts and minds of the local population, and I feel that this especially applies to missions dedicated to directly serving the American people.”

Nagle observed that every provider in the Reserve is experienced in their respective field, so the transition wasn’t terribly stressful. “Especially for service members who train for stressful situations,” Nagle said.

During a mobilization unlike any in her career, Nagle managed the stress by taking advantage of the down time between shifts to focus on self-care and connecting daily with her husband and family.

“I’m married to an active-duty service member; I have his full support and understanding,” Nagle said.

U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible Defense Department support to the whole-of-America COVID-19 response.

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