Local nurse combining profession, military service

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Johnny Jackson


Henry Medical Center Registered Nurse Donna Johnson said she is taking the opportunity of a lifetime. She is joining the United States Air Force Reserve.

It is a an opportunity, Johnson said, that not many people have at the stage in their lives when they are already a grandparent, and have found comfort in their day-to-day routines.

Johnson, a 42-year-old grandmother, has been a registered nurse for the past 13 years at Henry Medical Center in Stockbridge. However, in the coming months ,she will receive additional training as a flight nurse for the Air Force.

"I wanted to be a flight nurse in the reserves," she said. "It's a great opportunity for me, at this age in my life. Most people can't do this. It's going to be a great opportunity."

Johnson was recently commissioned to be a captain in the Air Force Reserve Nurse Corps. She was officially sworn in on Veterans Day by fellow Henry Medical Center RN Crystal Marchant, who is also a flight nurse and captain in the Air Force Reserve.

"We're going to be doing it together," said Johnson, adding that she first learned -- from Marchant -- about the opportunity to combine her profession with her desire to serve.

Marchant, who comes from a military family, said she began serving as an Air Force Reservist about three years ago, for the same reasons that many reservists enlist. "I became a reservist to serve my country, and help others in need," Marchant said. "It gives me an opportunity to be close to the ones who fight for our freedom and provide care for the wounded."

Johnson said that she was inspired by the service of others to pursue enlistment, herself, in order to serve and have a part in history.

"Just over the past two years, I've lost a lot of family members who were prior servicemen," Johnson said. "Just seeing the people that came to their funerals and the camaraderie that they showed, even after all these years, is just a moving experience.

"I wanted to have that," she continued. "I just felt like I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to do my part. They were very special people, and they got a lot of respect for everything that they did."

Johnson, who is married to Steve Johnson, has three children and a grandchild: son, Boone Cunningham, 20; daughter, Hayley Cunningham, 17; stepdaughter Brittany Johnson, 17; and an 11-month-old granddaughter, Amelie Cunningham.

Johnson has been assigned, along with Marchant, to the 94th Airmedical Evacuation Squadron at Dobbins Air Force Base in Marietta, Ga. She expects to start flight-urse training sometime in 2010.