To COVID-19 War Nurses

 In Nurses Weekly

From this Iraq war nurse to all of you COVID-19 war nurses: I see you.

I see your utter exhaustion from long days and extra shifts.

I see your despair that the stream of casualties seems endless.

I see your anger at having to shoulder so many of the brutal consequences from others’ choices and decisions.

I see your hearts and souls breaking at the senseless, preventable death, suffering, and trauma.

I see your frustration when barriers and resource limitations prevent you from providing the level of care you believe everyone deserves.

I see your courage when your own lives are at risk as you do your work, and your deep sadness at how so many leaders and members of your own communities who hail you as heroes don’t seem to care enough to take meaningful action.

I see your devotion to your patients and to your teammates.

I see your impulse to stay in the chaos, understanding that in some ways, it’s the moments of quiet that are more unbearable.

And I know that while I can relate to much of what you’re experiencing, I will never have a full understanding of your world—none of us who aren’t on the front lines could possibly fully understand. But if my own experience in war and in the 17 years since can provide any value to you, I hope it’s through two pieces of advice…

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