Disabled Nurse Fights Navy Regulations To Be Military Nurse

 In Nurses Weekly

Hannah Cvancara is an Orthopaedic nurse and a unilateral below-knee amputee, she was born and raised in a military family and lost her leg as a one-year-old due to a congenital disability called Fibular Hemimelia. Cvancara obtained her BSN degree from four different colleges in six years while undergoing three surgeries and four military relocations. “I am proud to use my hard-earned skills as an orthopaedic nurse, and I aspire to combine my patriotism and passion for healthcare to serve as a nurse in the greatest capacity— for the health of our service members and defence of our country.”

Cvancara is more than qualified to be a military nurse. Still, according to the Navy, because Cvancara uses a manufactured prosthetic left leg, it classifies her as “medically disqualifying”, making her unable to pursue her dream of serving her country as a military nurse. Nevertheless, Cvancara says, “there is a dire need for nurses in our county, especially within our military, and we cannot expect to protect and defend our country without protecting those who serve it. Our nation must maintain a strong military force through the help of medical professionals who are both willing and able to serve. My goal is to help meet this need as an active duty navy nurse.” According to Nurse Journal, “civilian and military nurses alike are in high demand. The Bureau projects a steady 7% job growth rate for RNs through 2029.” So why are they turning down qualified and perfectly competent candidates?

Currently, the military holds a blanket policy that does not allow prior amputees into service despite their capabilities. This standard is in place because of the potential accommodations that amputees and other disabled individuals may require that prevent them from being deployable. However, because this blanket policy encompasses all amputees and other disabled individuals, it leaves no room for those who are both physically and mentally capable and willing to serve their country. “Even though I passed the Navy’s physical requirements with excellent scores to become a Navy Nurse, I was still automatically disqualified because my amputation existed before service.” Cvancara states.

The military allows for those who become disabled in service to continue in uniform if they choose. Cvancara says, “If I had become an amputee as an officer, I would still be given a choice to keep serving. Disability is a non-negotiable problem for military service, but only when it is a pre-existing condition. Regardless of my life-long experience with my disability, it seems my false leg is still a false start.”

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