Bold Grandma Volunteers to Serve in Iraq

It would be easy to understand if Nancy Solem-Reisinger, at 45, were more interested in punching the clock at her regular job and spending time with her husband, three sons and two granddaughters.

But instead, the Duluth woman who describes herself as a "chubby grandmother" recently enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps and volunteered to serve as a nurse in Iraq.

"Our young people are over there and need nurses," she said Friday, after being commissioned as a second lieutenant. "I feel compelled, I feel called. It's a privilege to go over there and serve."

Solem-Reisinger joined up with the 452nd Combat Support Hospital based in St. Paul, which serves in combat zones. She doesn't know yet when she might be shipped overseas — she'll first have to complete officer's training and possibly some specialized nursing training to better equip her for some of the medical challenges she could face in Iraq.

Solem-Reisinger asked to have her commission ceremony at the Chris Jensen Health and Rehabilitation Center in Duluth, where she has worked as a registered nurse for a year. A number of military veterans live at the facility, and Solem-Reisinger said she wanted to honor them.

During the ceremony, Chris Jensen activities director Marlene Anderson read the names of 29 residents who have served in the military.

"She has such a wonderful respect and love for our residents," Anderson said. "It was important for our residents to see this ceremony."

Solem-Reisinger said she didn't make the decision lightly, and knows it is likely to cause worry for her family. But they are supportive.

"I love her very much and will miss her when she goes, but I support her," husband Larry Reisinger said. "She's a good nurse, and she can make a difference to the young men over there."

"Its an honor to find someone so willing to serve, especially with all she has going on in her life as a wife, a mother and a grandmother," said Lt. Sheila Boese, who helped commission Solem-Reisinger. "It says a lot about her as a person and a nurse."