Words by Liesel Schmidt Wife. Mother. Nurse. Those are three ways many people see Jackie Munn, but there’s so much more to her story than meets the eye.
Before becoming a nurse practitioner, Munn served in the Army as an officer, graduating from West Point in 2008 and commissioning as a second lieutenant. She was first assigned to Fort Lewis, Washington as a logistics officer before deploying with her unit to Basrah, Iraq from 2009 to 2010. During her time there, she managed a supply warehouse that provided more than one million meals and supplies to troops in southern Iraq. Afterward, she moved to the DC area and worked at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where she cared for wounded, sick and injured soldiers. After becoming captain, she was selected to serve in 2012 alongside teams of Green Berets in Afghanistan as a Cultural Support Team (CST) leader—before women were officially allowed to work alongside these elite all-male combat units.
“As a non-medical Army officer working in Afghan villages and clinics, I witnessed the traumatic toll caused by rampant inaccessibility to healthcare.'
- Jackie Munn It was then that Munn realized the path for her future after the military. “As a non-medical Army officer working in Afghan villages and clinics, I witnessed the traumatic toll caused by rampant inaccessibility to healthcare,” she says. “When I redeployed to Walter Reed, I saw the first-hand benefits of interdisciplinary teams providing wholistic healthcare. These experiences led me to pursue a career in the medical field.”
After separating from the Army, Munn earned her master’s from Vanderbilt University’s School of Nursing, getting her license as a registered nurse and becoming a board-certified family nurse practitioner. She currently works for Arlington County Government’s Public Health Department as a clinician. During the first year of the pandemic, she also worked with Arlington County’s COVID-19 Public Health Response Team as a contact tracer and vaccinator.
With all that she has seen and done, Munn finds an outlet in writing. She received a writing fellowship through the National Endowment for the Arts in 2019, during which time she was a writer in residence at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts in Amherst, Virginia. Her work has been published in the Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, Travel + Leisure, USA Today, Vox, Outside and the War Horse. Her NYT story about serving alongside two very different teams of Green Berets in Afghanistan was encouraged reading at the Pentagon Special Operations Command and retweeted by the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey.
With so much on her CV, Munn is clearly no ordinary individual. She’s determined, dedicated and driven. However, at the end of the day, no matter how long or hard, Munn takes off her scrubs and is just “mommy” to her six-year-old. At five months pregnant, she is also looking forward to having one more to come home to.
As consuming as her work can be, she still believes it shows an important example. “I think it’s important that my children see that I am enthusiastic and grateful for my work,” says Munn, who lives in Alexandria with her husband and son. “Particularly, I think it’s important that they see me using my talents and time to help others. I hope it will inspire them to use their talents someday to care for their community and those around them. As a writer, I hope my children see that they can turn the things they're passionate about into meaningful work. By being a working mom, I hope that I can inspire them to pursue their own passions and to find what gives their own life meaning and purpose.”