Honoring Gator Nursing Veterans

Two BSN Students Share How Nursing Compares to Military Service

Jared Weeks
Accelerated BSN student Jared Weeks (right) with the former Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody in 2015.

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program has several similarities to the military. Both are structured, challenging, require teamwork and discipline, and, above all else, can mean the difference between life and death.

Jared Weeks and Craig Breen are current students in the Accelerated BSN program and also veterans. Weeks served eight years as an Air Force firefighter and Breen was in the Army’s Special Forces for six years. Both served on deployments in the Middle East during their service before making the decision to return to civilian life to enroll in the nursing program at the University of Florida.

“I always knew I wanted to do something in health care,” said Weeks, a native of Valdosta, Georgia. “The nurses always have the coolest jobs in the military, more autonomy and more options. Nurses can do anything from medical evacuations in a war zone to pediatrics on a base.”

He earned his first degree in business from National America University while stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. Breen’s first degree in biomedical sciences came from the University of South Florida, where he received a scholarship for football.

Craig Breen
Accelerated BSN student Craig Breen during a Special Forces deployment in the Middle East. 

For both, their decision to obtain a degree in nursing was confirmed by witnessing the value of nurses in action.

In the Special Forces, Breen, from Bushnell, Florida, said they were trained as medics because their teams were small and often on special missions without access to medical services. He served on three deployments to the Middle East and recalls one particular instance that solidified his desire to become a nurse. During a mission, a fellow serviceman suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen and lost a lot of blood. Breen was integral in using the medic skills he was taught to stanch the blood flow and stabilize the soldier enough to get him back to base for proper medical care.

“I helped save a life,” he said. “There’s something about being able to help someone in that critical moment. That’s what really made up my mind that I wanted to go into nursing.”

After graduating from the BSN program, Breen plans to work in an intensive care unit and then pursue his graduate degree to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, or CRNA, because of his interest in working in an operating room. He also looks forward to spending more time with his wife and 6-month-old daughter, August.

Weeks will return to military life following graduation. This time, he plans to commission into the Navy as an officer and deploy as needed on a Navy ship. Before long, he plans to further his nursing career by enrolling in a Doctor of Nursing Practice program to become a nurse practitioner.

He said his favorite thing about both nursing and the military is the teamwork.

“There is a team feeling and camaraderie in nursing and the military,” Weeks said. “You get to know your teammates on a different level and depend on each other. I enjoy being a part of something bigger than just myself and being able to help others.”

Jared Weeks
Jared Weeks (red shirt, front row) with all of the Air Force firefighters during his second deployment in Jordan in 2016.
Craig Breen
Craig Breen during a Special Forces mission.










By Anna Hoffman