Navy Nurse’s Voice Heard at Women’s Memorial’s 10th Anniversary
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 5, 2007 Navy Capt. Maggie L. Richard, a 22-year veteran in the Navy Nurse Corps, embodies the dutiful commitment enshrined at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary Nov. 3.
Navy Capt. Maggie L. Richard, a 22-year veteran of the Navy Nurse Corps, poses in front of the Women's Memorial, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary Nov. 3, 2007. Located at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery, the memorial is the only major national monument dedicated to all women who have defended America from the Revolutionary War through current operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Photo by John J. Kruzel
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Richard was one of seven female servicemembers selected to address the audience at during the “Voices of the Women” speaker’s portion of the ceremony. The Women’s Memorial is at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery.
“I was so honored to represent all military and Public Health Service nurses,” Richard said.
The veteran nurse was notified by the office of Navy Rear Adm. Christine Bruzek-Kohler, Navy Nurse Corps director, that she had been tapped to speak on behalf of some 20,000 nurses in the corps at the ceremony.
“I feel that (Woman in Military Service for America) gives a great venue to give voice to the accomplishments of women, specifically,” Richard said. “Many of the things I do when I mentor people is remind them of what other people had to do for you to get where you are. … That’s why I think WIMSA is so important.”
While attending Texas Woman’s University, Richard encountered recruiters who helped steer her toward a career in the Navy Nurse Corps. “It was an opportunity for me to do something different with my life,” she said. “I just felt at that moment I didn’t know what lay ahead, but I knew that I could do it.”
Richard’s parents were surprised when she announced her decision to enlist in the program. “Do you want to run that by me one more time?” she recalled her father saying with incredulity.
“I’m the youngest in my family and was the first to really leave Dallas, Texas, where I’m from,” she said. “So my dad, who’s quite the character, made sure I ran it by him one more time.”
As a nurse in the corps, Richards said, she had hoped to enjoy life while “giving the best that (she) could give.”
“Contributing in this world is something that I’ve always known that I wanted to do because it was taught to me as a child,” she said. “The Navy gave me the opportunity to do that.”
In fact, by paying for Richard to earn her master’s and Ph.D. degrees in nursing, the Navy far exceeded her expectations, she said.
One of Richard’s career highlights happened in 1992 while stationed in Korea. One night, while Richard served as the lone Navy nurse on a base with roughly 5,000 servicemembers under her watch, an emergency medical situation occurred. “There was an emergency, and I had to transport a patient via helicopter; the Air Force and the Army transported me there,” she recalled. “And I was just able to do things that impressed me in terms of in the pressure of the moment; we would all be surprised by what we can accomplish.”
Other women servicemembers joining Richard onstage were Lorraine S. Dieterle, a former member of the Coast Guard who photographed the Victory in Japan Day celebration in New York City’s Times Square and who helped establish the women’s memorial, and Marsha L. Four, who served in the 18th Surgical Hospital in Vietnam as an intensive care nurse with the Army Nurse Corps.
Other “Voices of Women” speakers included Dawn Halfaker, a retired Army captain injured in Iraq; Brig. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, Air Force director of public affairs; and Marine Lance Cpl. Sona P. Babani, a native Iraqi turned U.S. citizen.