The nurses at Capt. Ann Cobe’s former employer have finally given up on her returning to Tomball Regional Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit.

One by one, they checked off the days until her return on a dry erasure board in the nurses’ lounge. After the 365th day, they finally figured out she wasn’t coming back.

That was in 2008.

Today, four extensions and five years later, the activated reservist and Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade nurse case manager remains in uniform by choice.

“I do miss my babies,” the Houston native said. “But it’s much more gratifying here because I am able to give back and help these soldiers.”

Cobe, a 1997 graduate of the University of Texas’ School of Nursing, who joined the Army Reserves in 2006, said it is “pretty awesome to be a member of the Army Nurse Corps.”

On Feb. 2, the corps celebrated its 112th year of “caring for the nation’s sons and daughters.”

“It really is the ultimate,” said Cobe of being an Army nurse.

“Life can sometimes be a challenge for deployed soldiers, so if I can be here and make it easier for them to get the care they need, than that’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m an Army nurse.”

Since 1901 when the Army Nurse Corps became a permanent corps of the Medical Department, Army nurses have served worldwide in armed conflicts and humanitarian endeavors, including Grenada, Panama, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. Currently, Army nurses serve in Afghanistan and throughout the world in support of multiple military and humanitarian actions.

“Without nurses, doctors would be nothing because it’s the nurses who know more about the patient than the doctor,” said Cobe’s executive officer, Lt. Nora Cardenas, who witnessed the compassionate care of Army nurses when she was injured during her 2007 to 2009, 15-month deployment to Iraq. “That was my first face-to-face experience with an Army nurse. You could really see their passion and their desire to take care of soldiers.”

At the Warrior Transition Brigade, nurse case managers are integral to the care and case management of wounded, ill and injured soldiers.

“Everyone hails positions for what they do, but when you’re caring for soldiers, it’s the nurse who spends the bulk of time with the soldier,” said Lt. Col. Morris Wilder, the brigade’s senior nurse case manager. “(Brigade) nurse case managers will assess them, and then plan and implement their care, as well as coordinate specialized care with other providers. If the nurses weren’t around, their care would be greatly compromised.”

Long-term care

Unlike inpatient nurses who treat soldiers usually for short periods, transition brigade nurses have a long-term relationship with the soldiers under their care.

“We see soldiers a few months to six months to a year or even longer,” Wilder said. “You’re dealing with assessing them and reassessing them when conditions or medication changes, plus you’re teaching them and touching on their needs, as well as the needs of their families.”

Being able to make a difference in their healing via case management is another reason that drove Cobe to requesting an assignment with the brigade.

“When they first come into (the brigade’s intake company) to process, they are anxious, stressed out and needing services,” she said. “The military health system can be kind of complex at times, and getting access to care is tough for soldiers not familiar with the system. That’s why I feel case management is important.”

After three or four weeks, she said she sees a more relaxed and comfortable soldier.

“They are so happy to know that someone cares and someone is going to get them into the services they need,” Cobe said.

One fan of Army nurses and Cobe is Sgt. Najib Mohamed, who has been at the brigade less than a month.

“She’s pretty awesome,” the information specialist said. “She takes the time to see what I need both medically and personally, as well as taking the time to ask me what’s going on in my life. It makes me feel very good that someone cares and takes the time to find out what’s really wrong.”

He said would be lost without the help of Army nurses.

“They’re very important and the ones who make sure I get the care I need,” Mohamed said. “There’s just no way I could do this on my own.”

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