Growing up as an Air Force brat left a big impression on Hannah Joy Cvancara.
Her dad was an Air Force flight surgeon, and she has family members in other branches of the service. Hannah decided early on that she wanted to be a critical care nurse in the military, preferably the Navy. Her natural athleticism and drive to push herself made the job seem like a great fit. There’s only one problem.
Hannah was born with a condition called fibular hemimelia, so the bones on her left side never formed properly. She was just a year old when her left leg had to be amputated, and she’s lived with a prosthesis ever since.
Despite her limb difference, the 25-year-old from Spokane, Washington, is an athlete who has participated in seven different sports in her life. She climbs mountains, surfs, and rock climbs. She also fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming a registered nurse and puts in long hours at the hospital with no issues.
Now, she’s tackling the next hurdle in her path by attempting to join the Navy Nurse Corps. She tried to enter the service before starting nursing school, but was rejected due to her prosthesis. She has decided to appeal that decision in an attempt to make history as the first pre-service amputee to join the Navy!
“I just love this country. I want to serve it. It’s in my blood to serve, always has been. There is such a need in the military to have good nurses,” she explained. “Just because I’m missing a leg, doesn’t mean I’m any less able.”
Hannah is working hard to prove she’s fit for service with endorsement letters from service members and physicians. She also took the standard physical fitness test all recruits must pass to enter the Navy, and she crushed it! During the test, Hannah did 30 pushups, held a plank for 2 minutes and 30 seconds, and ran 1.5 miles in 13 minutes and 29 seconds.
The Navy says they’ve never granted an exception to their standards before, and it’s still unclear whether they’ll grant Hannah an exception now. Hannah said she understands why pre-service amputees haven’t been admitted before, but she feels strongly that she doesn’t need any extra accommodation — and clearly never has!
Hannah’s doctors agree that she’s fit to serve, and many have written letters of endorsement on her behalf. She even has letters of confidence from a current Army Nurse Corps officer and an ROTC nurse counselor.
She’s determined to prove that her physicians and her physical test results are enough to grant her access to 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 redefine 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.”
Hannah is still awaiting the Navy’s decision, but we’re convinced. This passionate young patriot has a lot to offer her country!
Share this story to wish Hannah all the best.
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