FORT BENNING, GA – What does a mother of five working fulltime as a nurse in Martin Army Community Hospital’s Emergency Room do? Why, pursue another degree, of course. BMACH ER LPN (licensed practical nurse) Jessica Knowlton is either a superstar or a glutton for punishment. Did I mention three of her children are ten or younger, including two boys born just 14 months apart?
“Somehow I managed to end up with a 3.6 GPA and I’m really hoping that gives me an edge on being accepted into the RN (registered nurse) program at Chattahoochee Valley Community College,” said Knowlton. “I love to learn. I hope to start in January, if accepted.”
The Rockwood, Tennessee native became an LPN after graduating from Coastal Pines Technical College in 2009.
“I’ve always been drawn to helping others, and have always found the human body so fascinating,” explained Knowlton. “I am the mother of four boys who are very active in sports and one little crazy girl. Illnesses and injuries are bound to happen with five kids.
“I always admired their nurses and doctors and from there the desire to be a nurse was born.”
Apparently helping others and serving the country runs in the family. Knowlton’s father was in the Air Force. The half sleeve of ink on her left arm is a memorial to him. Her older brother is a state trooper back in Tennessee. And her husband of 20 years, Staff Sgt. Jason Knowlton, is the Combat/Dive Medic at 4th Ranger Training Battalion.
The Army has sent Knowlton and her family all over the world, from America’s heartland to across the pond. Her favorite duty station was Italy, where she took care of service members and their families at the Vicenza Health Center on Caserma Ederle. They moved to Fort Benning in 2017, where Knowlton joined Martin Army’s Department of Primary Care in Strong Team.
As much as she loved working with the Family Medicine residents and attendings, something was missing. Last January, Knowlton began picking up a few hours in the emergency room each week, after her regular shift. When COVID hit, Knowlton knew exactly where she needed to be and answered the call for ER and ICU (intensive care unit) volunteers.
“I fell in love with the ER. The nurses all help each other and everyone gets along,” said Knowlton. “My personality is better suited to the ER. I officially became part of the team on January 31st of this year.”
Knowlton’s dedication to go above and beyond for her work family was evident when Martin Army tragically lost one of our own last November. Family Medicine Residency Program graduate Capt. Seth Vande Kamp was killed on a peacekeeping mission in Egypt. The self-proclaimed “just a wife, mom and nurse” not only organized the sale of memorial bracelets, but personally covered the cost of taxes and shipping, to honor Vande Kamp.
Nowadays Knowlton’s days are spent taking care of teams of four patients on the main side of the emergency department, as well as running Fast Track when needed. That venue is reserved for patients suffering from the least severe injuries … such as broken bones, dog bites, ear aches … and needing the fewest interventions.