FORT BENNING, GA – The Army Nurse Corps (ANC) celebrates its 120th anniversary on February 2. The theme for 2021 is “Diverse in Talent, United in Mission.” Capt. Ben Stone, a Nurse Methods Analyst, volunteered to lead the planning for Martin Army Community Hospital’s ceremony.
“I’ve given my life to the military. I’m a prior Navy veteran. Got out, got my college degree and came back into the Army. There’s been more years in my adult life spent in the military than anything else,” said Stone. “I’m very honored and privileged to be in the Army Nurse Corps. I’m honored and privileged to be a Soldier.”
Fortunately, Stone was able to persuade Col. (RET) Joy Napper to deliver the keynote address. Napper dedicated nearly three decades of her life providing healthcare to the military, serving in South Korea and deploying during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Among her accolades: the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star.
Even though Stone is currently in an administrative role, he is always focused on the patient care mission.
“As a father and husband, I have my family and I want them taken care of. And then I have my military family and I want them taken care of. It’s always been about taking care of Soldiers and taking care of family. Whether that’s your immediate family, your extended military family or your Army Nurse Corps family.”
Clinical Nurse Officer in Charge (CNOIC) of Labor and Delivery Capt. Andrea Vincent is co-organizer of BMACH’s celebration. Her role is highlighting the ground breaking accomplishments, both past and present, among the more than 11,000 men and women who fill the ranks of the Army Nurse Corps.
“The first woman who got a purple heart was a nurse,” said Vincent. “A lot of people don’t know that.” Vincent is referring to 1st Lt. Annie Fox, who received the honor for combat while serving at Hickam Field during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
“Another interesting fact, male nurses weren’t even allowed to come into the Army until 1956. By law, all nurses were women,” shared Vincent. “You always think of the military as male dominated. But our first male [Army Nurse Corps] general wasn’t until 2000. We had female generals but Gen. William Bester was the first when he became the 21st Chief of the Army Nurse Corps.”
Researching for this year’s theme, Vincent discovered many more firsts in the history of the Army Nurse Corps. “The first woman to ever earn the Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB) was a nurse. It’s kind of interesting that the first woman to do this, happened to be a nurse.” Vincent is referring to Brig. Gen. Clara Adams-Ender who, in 1967, became the first Army woman to qualify for and be awarded the coveted badge.
This will be Vincent’s last year helping organize BMACH’s celebration. She is due to retire in October, after 23 years in service. “The best part of being head nurse is watching my staff perform to their highest level. Watching them have good outcomes when patients are in labor here.”
While Vincent may no longer be an active duty Army nurse, she plans to continue teaching and mentoring the next generation of nurses as a clinical nurse instructor in Texas.
Stone’s tireless efforts to make this year’s celebration memorable truly is a family affair. His wife, Chandi, is a certified baker. She is providing the event with a chocolate cake, custom labeled water bottles, hand-sewed face masks and gift bags.
For more information about the Army Nurse Corps to include its rich history and current field activities, visit https://armynursecorps.amedd.army.mil/.