“When you’re in the Marine Corps and you’re in trouble—when you need someone to fix a problem—you call the gunny,” explained NMCRS nurse Sheila Rosinski. As a gunnery sergeant herself during her 20-year career in the Marine Corps, Rosinski understands the responsibility and authority that the rank conveys, and she uses that now when working with her clients.
“Some of my clients who are more resistant to care, or they need a stronger voice of reason, I will tell them I was a gunny and they’ll call me gunny,” said Rosinski. If clients act like they don’t want or need help, or are reluctant to comply with medical orders, Rosinski sets them straight. “I call it gunny love,” she said. Then when clients are in crisis, they will call or text Rosinski and say “‘Gunny—I need help!’ and I say, ‘Take a breath, let me fix it,’ and later they will say, ‘I knew if I called the gunny, you would know what to do, and you did.’”
Rosinski’s work as a visiting nurse with the Society’s Combat Casualty Assistance program is a natural evolution of her military career and medical training. As far back as high school she knew she wanted to be a nurse, and worked as a nurse’s aide during breaks from school. After graduation Rosinski applied for a nursing program in the Navy, but because the number of women accepted into the Navy was limited at the time, she wasn’t able to join. Instead, a Marine Corps recruiter invited her to become a Marine and use the GI bill to attend nursing school afterward. “But one thing led to another and I ended up staying for 20 years,” laughed Rosinski.
As a Marine Rosinski worked as an administrator at every level, including teaching at admin schools. By writing regulations, managing pay and benefits, and processing medical boards for ill and injured Marines, she learned the ins and outs of Marine protocol and procedures, which serves her well as a nurse working primarily with medically retired Marines. While she became an expert at processing paperwork, Rosinski was hardly confined to her desk. “As the gunny for a company of Marines I was responsible for making sure they went to annual training. One of those training requirements was to throw grenades. So I would process a few people through and give commands and run the grenade range.”
When the first Gulf War began, Rosinski and her husband, also a Marine at the time, were concerned about what would happen to their sons if both she and her husband were deployed. So she transferred from Camp Pendleton to Quantico to be closer to her mother just in case. Then once she reached her 20-year mark, Rosinski retired and enrolled in a nursing program, where she first earned her LPN and then her RN credentials. Rosinski worked in a hospital cardiac intensive care unit, as a school nurse, and then with the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment in its medical cell. “I wanted to do more with wounded warriors,” Rosinski said, “and it was awesome being able to move into this role with the Society.”