Being of service has always been a goal of retired Lt. Col. Ruth Racine ’99. She accomplished this as a distinguished member of the U.S. Army, retiring July 1, 2020, after 20 years of active duty as a family nurse practitioner.
“The lessons I learned at Mount Saint Mary’s: discipline in my studies; expanding my critical thinking; and humble service to others through nursing, allowed me to thrive in military service,” she says. “Having trusted leaders who see your potential and challenge you to develop it, whether it be college professors or senior military leaders, was a key factor in both my academic and military success.”
Racine served throughout the world. Whether in El Salvador in 2005 for an ophthalmology medical readiness training exercise with a team from Walter Reed Army Medical Center or in Kuwait for an operational deployment for Operation Spartan Shield from 2016 to 2017 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, she was there.
During her first tour in Germany, she saw one of her Mount Saint Mary’s nursing buddies, Danilo Antonio ’99, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. “His Army Reserve unit was activated to LRMC to help us care for the ever-increasing number of combat wounded, arising from combat operations in Afghanistan after 9/11,” she says.
One of the most important moments came near the end of her military career. “While stationed at Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis McChord, she was allowed to travel to Spain in 2019 to walk the Warriors on the Way, a pilgrimage for military/veterans designed to aid in the healing of moral injury/PTSD, along the Camino de Santiago.
Looking back, one of the biggest qualities she gained through serving was persistence, a necessity in caring for patients. “It’s being able to dig deep and be confident in the training you received, whether that’s training you do as a soldier or even things like meditation,” she says. “Do things well and do them with love.”
The Mount stays close to Racine’s heart as her time there was filled with life-changing moments. Once a senior in high school at risk of academically failing, she willed herself to be a stronger student, starting with community college. Transferring to the Mount, she remembers instructors challenging her and believing in her potential. “I remember getting a paper back and a professor telling me to give my thoughts on a deeper level, to really develop my analysis,” says Racine, who went on to graduate magna cum laude from the Mount with a bachelor’s in nursing. “The school pushes you to go further and I just felt they were very committed to helping me grow.”
The desire to spend more time with her family — husband David Tubbs, also a military veteran, 15-year-old daughter Cyprus and 13-year-old son Magnus — led Racine to take an extended period of time off. Although Racine has retired from the military, her days of service haven’t ended. Volunteering right now with the American Red Cross, Racine is applying for a PhD program, as she wants to work in the area of vicarious traumatization. She looks back on her past two decades of experiences with both humbleness and gratitude.