Beyond the Uniform: Maj. Wheeler

My love for this country and our veterans started at a very young age taking care of my father, a Vietnam Veteran.  As a freshman in high school, I remember […]

My love for this country and our veterans started at a very young age taking care of my father, a Vietnam Veteran.  As a freshman in high school, I remember an assignment where we wrote down what we wanted to do after high school.  As I was not sure, I half-heartedly wrote “join the military to help people” on the note card. Upon graduation, and still lacking direction, that piece of paper was returned to me.  Two years after high school, I came across that same card, I decided to act on it and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as an Aerospace Ground Equipment Manager.

My first duty assignment was Royal Air Force Station Lakenheath, England, and then Langley Air Force Base, Va.  During my initial enlistment I began to take classes to focus on my future.  I decided to continue my career in the Air Force but felt pulled in a different career direction, and left the active duty Air Force to pursue a degree in nursing.  I transferred to the 115th Fighter Wing Force Support Squadron, where I immediately began to use the G.I. Bill to earn my Bachelors of Science in nursing.

In 2005, after three different military job assignments and two deployments, I finally graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in nursing. I began working at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wi. in 2006.  That summer, I deployed to Iraq and remember a soldier who came into the office.  He had a broken collar bone, punctured lung and lower extremity damage, and wanted to thank the pilots and crew whom had rescued him from a combat zone.  I decided then to take the next step in my career.  Upon return from that deployment, I commissioned as an officer and became a flight nurse for the 109th Air Evacuation Squadron in St. Paul, Mn. During my five years as a flight nurse, I have deployed to various locations and provided medical care for U.S. troops and many other foreign wounded troops.

Today I continue to care for our veterans as an R.N. at the Veterans Hospital in Madison and with the 115th FW Medical Group.  In both careers, I am honored to serve with so many dedicated professionals providing care for our military members and veterans.  I am thankful for the opportunity afforded to me by the WI Air National Guard; I am able to give back to my community in a way that honors those that fight, and have fought for our freedom.

Tech. Sgt. Jackie Wheeler embraces her daughter before leaving for deployment in 2006.

 

Jackie Wheeler is a now a Major with the 115th Fighter Wing as a Clinical Nurse (pictured) & Wing Executive Officer.