A proud heritage of caring

Story and photo by Kimberly Parker 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Capt. Erin Wood is a flight nurse in the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. She joined the Air Force to pursue her passion of taking care of people.
Capt. Erin Wood is a flight nurse in the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. She joined the Air Force to pursue her passion of taking care of people.

She always had a desire to help those in need. From volunteering at the hospital, to helping her mom provide in-home nursing care, the young humanitarian continually strived to improve the area around her, but she wanted to do more.

Now, a flight nurse with the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Capt. Erin Wood has taken her passion to new heights by aiding others around the world.

“Through being a nurse, I’ve gotten to see the whole picture of how (the Air Force) cares for our people,” Wood said. “We care for Airmen on every level and will send a whole crew out to ensure one is cared for.”

Like Woods, Maj. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, Deputy Surgeon General and Chief of the Air Force Nurse Corps, shares the same type of passion and had the opportunity to see how great the 86th AES mission is during a visit on Ramstein.

“We care, that is what we are all about,” Hogg said. “Nursing is a discipline where we don’t look at a disease process, we look at the patient and how we can care for that patient who just happens to have a certain disease.”

Hogg pointed out that in the beginning, the majority of nursing care took place in a brick and mortar facility or a bedded facility. However, today’s care can take place anywhere.
“We are able to provide quality care anywhere,” she said. “We are on the ground, in the air, deployed with our troops or even on humanitarian missions.”

The nurse corps today is often referred to as a “total nursing force,” a corps of active duty, reserve, guard, civilian and contract nurses who partner together to take care of patients, Hogg said. And care today is provided to not just active-duty members, but to patients around the world.

Wood recalled a proud moment in her career in which she helped transport a dependent patient who had a rare genetic disease and the outlook for survival was grim. She flew with the patient for two days straight to get them where they needed to be.

“It meant a lot to me because it wasn’t about the end result,” Wood said. “It was about taking care of our own.”

The Air Force Nurse Corps started with one enlisted and five officer specialties.

Today, there are over 18,000 active duty, guard, reserve, civilian and contract men and women serving across 34 career specialties.

“A young nurse coming into the Air Force can be any type of nurse they want to be; operating room, obstetrics, intensive care unit, you name it and we are there,” Hogg said.
While there is no way to predict the future, Hogg feels confident that the future is bright for the nurse corps.

“When I am done and have to hang up the uniform, amazing things will continue on because that is what our Airmen strive for,” she

Whether it is on a battlefield or in a traditional facility, Wood said she is proud to be part of a legacy of service and is excited to continue her passion in aiding others from around the world.