If nursing school seemed a natural path for Sarah Graese (BSN ’14), given the family of nurses from which she hailed, becoming an Army nurse wasn’t always “part of the plan.”
But after a life-changing tour of UVA as a high school senior sealed the deal, Graese—who grew up in Winter Springs, Fla., the daughter of two Navy nurses, including father Robert Haas (BSN ’79)—worried how she’d manage the out-of-state tuition.
“I knew UVA was where I needed to be,” she says, “and I knew that the Army could provide a solid foundation right out of school.”
Like father, like daughter.
For Haas himself, becoming a nurse wasn’t initially part of his plan because it “just wasn’t discussed as an option for males in the late 1960s. It never even occurred to me until I had a summer job as an orderly at Radford Community Hospital, [work that] put me in close proximity to nurses. An anesthesiologist there mentioned that nurse anesthesia was a wide-open field—and the rest is history.”
Haas went on to become a licensed RN, moved to Charlottesville, and worked at UVA Medical Center. Less than two years later, he returned to school to pursue a BSN and more work flexibility, in the process tapping “a career where I could go anywhere and be able to find a recession-proof line of work,” he explains. “That proved to be true.”
After graduating from UVA, Haas was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy Nurse Corps, and received orders to report to an officer indoctrination school in Newport, RI. From there, he was assigned to military hospitals in Florida where he worked as a medical-surgical nurse, later specializing in labor and delivery—a double-whammy of unusual work for a man.
Already, “I was working in a nontraditional occupation for men,” he explains, “and then in the most nontraditional area for men within that occupation.”
Fast-forward four decades, and labor and delivery became Graese’s specialty, too. After serving two years as a medical-surgical nurse, completing the Army’s four-month OB/GYN specialty course, and then working two years as a labor and delivery nurse on Joint Base Lewis McChord, Wa., she became the clinical nurse officer in charge of Fort Bragg’s NICU, which has one of the highest delivery rates of all major military hospitals.
“It’s been the most rewarding part of my career thus far,” says Graese, and one that’s different than what most people think, she notes.
“Often, battlefield medicine and trauma comes to mind when people think of military medicine, but there is so much more,” Graese explains. “Our service members are able to accomplish their missions overseas when they have peace of mind about the care of their family members back home.”
Haas and his wife Jane are undeniably proud to see their daughter follow in their footsteps.
“She watched both parents navigate careers as active duty military nurses, and she was not too intimidated to give it a try,” he says. “We didn’t encourage her to take that route, but we’re so happy that she did.”