We all need some inspiration, and one local woman’s determination and spirit is providing exactly that. She’s refusing to let setbacks stop her from chasing her dream.
“I’ve always wanted to be a nurse,” said Hanna Cvancara (Schuerman) “I’ve always wanted to do critical care.”
We all have our callings in life, for Hannah, hers is as specific as it is powerful.
“I wanted to take it a step further and join the military as a nurse,” she said. “I just love this country. I want to serve it. It’s in my blood to serve, always has been.”
Hannah’s childhood was filled with moves for her father’s military career.
“My dad was a flight surgen in the Air Force,” she said. “We have some (family members in the) Navy…National Guard. There’s always been a draw for me to a medical profession, or military, or both.”
Hannah earned her nursing degree in 2019, and has been working as a civilian, orthopedic nurse since. But that dream to use her talents to serve the country she loves so deeply never leaves her mind.
“There is such a need in the military to have good nurses,” she said.
Hannah is seemingly the perfect fit, expect for one thing.
“The problem is, the military doesn’t allow amputees to join who are amputees prior to (their) service,” she said. “I was born with a condition called Fibular Hemimelia…Basically, from my hip down on the left side, I’m missing some parts.”
Hannah’s medical team decided surgery was their best option when she was just an infant.
“As I grew, my whole left side didn’t grow with me,” she said. “They made the decision to amputate the foot I had and leave me with a limb that could fit in a prosthetic.”
She’s had more than a half dozen surgeries since that first one as she continued to grow. Each procedure made her stronger than the last.
“I’ve played seven sports….No problem,” she said.
She surfs, scales mountains, and is known to inspire anyone she meets.
“Just because I’m missing a leg, doesn’t mean I’m any less able,” she said.
Something she says she has proven in the process of trying to enlist. She’s been in contact with a local military recruiter.
“I did take the standard test,” Hanna said. “I took it just to prove to myself that I could, but it’s what they needed.”
And, she excelled.
“I did it and passed with flying colors” Hannah said.
She’s also received letters of support and recommendation, including one from a current Army Nurse Corps Officer and prior skilled ROTC Nurse Counselor/Recruiter. They letters urge a waiver to be granted for Hannah to enter the Navy Nurse Corps.
“I’m really trying to get this on the table,” she said. “I know the rules, I’m not just trying to make an exception for me. I want them to re-define standards and take it more case by case. If you lose your limb while in the service, they accommodate that. The problem is, because I’m already an amputee, they don’t know my baseline for ability or my capabilities.”
A document received by Hannah deny her request stated in part, ‘Regrettably, as outlined in the governing directive for military service enlistment, induction, and appointment, (Hannah’s) medical condition is considered medically disqualifying.’
She’s reached out to government leaders and elected officials, and also our ‘Help Me Hayley’ in hopes of reaching that one person who may be able to help her. The request is simple. All she wants is a chance.
“And that’s the problem, I don’t have that chance,” she said.
But she’s willing to keep fighting until she does, never one to be deterred by the climb.
“I just have to prove myself a little harder,” she said. “I can do this.”