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Army spouse cheerfully cares for students

Pioneer Middle School’s Health Room Nurse, Erin Willcox

Erin Willcox cares for a student at Pioneer Middle School in DuPont. Photo credit: Steilacoom School District

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Erin Willcox, wife of Army 1st Sgt. Chad Willcox, C Company, Second Ranger Battalion, never intended to become a pediatric nurse, but when the opportunity arose to serve her community as Pioneer Middle School's nurse, Willcox couldn't say, "No."

Willcox, who earned her RN at Columbus Technical College in Columbus, Georgia, and received her BSN from Jacksonville University, says, "Wound care is my true passion, and I love geriatrics. I also swore I would never be a pediatric nurse. However," Willcox continues, "being a school nurse has been such an awesome adventure. I am never bored, am constantly amazed and in awe of how intelligent, big-hearted, and open-minded middle school kids really are. At this age, they can be so grown up and independent one minute and so vulnerable and innocent the next. It has been my privilege to watch so many of them grow, mature, and amaze themselves over the past two-and-a-half years."

Last month, Wilcox was named The Rotary Club of Lakewood's Educator of the Month for January. The club honors educators from the Clover Park and Steilacoom school districts throughout the school year.

Willcox and her husband met when they were both stationed at Ft. Benning in Columbus, Georgia, in 2003. Married for 15 years, they have three children: Grace, age 14; Avner, age 12; and Isaac, age 20 months. Their two older children attend Pioneer Middle School where their mother works.

When asked what she likes about being a military spouse, Willcox said, "The best thing about being a military wife is how close my family and I are. We don't have regular family around, so often you find yourself adopting surrogate aunts and uncles wherever you go ... The friends you make everywhere you go become your support network, family, and friends for life."

But she's also honest about the difficulties of being married to an Army Ranger: "The toughest part is something I know all of us as military spouses don't like to talk about or admit to ..." she said. "We constantly busy ourselves to push through, to care for our house, kids, pets, friends, attend functions, go to church, take this one or that to extracurricular activities, etc. However, there is a point in the day ... when all goes quiet, that the other side of the bed reminds us that he/she is away. Your heart sinks for a minute, you take a deep breath and say a prayer."

The Willcox's have been stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) since leaving Ft. Benning in 2016. "JBLM has been an amazing experience," says Willcox. "The natural beauty in itself has been worth the trip and stay. We have truly enjoyed the post, the people, the food, beer, culture, and getting to know our little community of DuPont."

This spring, the Willcox's will be headed to their next posting in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where 1st Sgt. Willcox will be working with the University of Alabama's Army Reserve Officer Training Corps, and Erin Willcox will begin an Acute Care Gerontology Program through Walden University.

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