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Tribute To Rear Admiral Karen A. Flaherty

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye

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Mr. President, I rise today to recognize a great American and a true military visionary who has humbly served our country for close to 40 years in the Navy Nurse Corps, both Active and Reserve components: RADM Karen A. Flaherty. A native of Winsted, CT, she joined the U.S. Navy as a Nurse Corps candidate in July 1973. Upon graduation from Skidmore College, she attended Officer Indoctrination School in Newport, RI, in August 1974.

Admiral Flaherty's first assignment was Quantico Naval Hospital, where she served as a staff nurse and charge nurse of the Surgical Ward, Orthopedic Ward, and the Maximum Care Unit. Upon transfer to the Philadelphia Naval Medical Center in 1977, she assumed the duties as charge nurse for the General Surgery Unit and the Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic. Admiral Flaherty reported for duty as the officer programs officer for Naval Recruiting Command, Navy Recruiting District New Jersey in 1979. She transitioned to the Naval Reserve in 1982.

Admiral Flaherty's subsequent reserve tours included assignments to numerous naval hospitals and fleet hospital commands. In her distinguished career she has served as commanding officer, Fleet Hospital, Fort Dix, executive officer, director of nursing services, officer-in-charge, and training officer. In February 1991, she was recalled to serve with Fleet Hospital 15, Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia, in support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. She served as commanding officer of the OPNAV 093 Reserve Unit prior to assuming Flag duties as the Deputy Commander Force Integration National Capital Area and the deputy chief for health care operations at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. In each assignment, she excelled and overcame every challenge and was rewarded with greater responsibility and opportunities.

Admiral Flaherty has served at the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery as the deputy surgeon general, deputy chief, wounded, ill, and injured, and the 22nd director of the Navy Nurse Corps. Her visionary leadership and executive management skills have played vital roles in forging new frontiers between the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and the private sector to improve care for sailors, marines, veterans, and their families.

Admiral Flaherty received her master of science degree from the University of Pennsylvania and has held senior executive leadership positions at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA, St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington, DE, and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia, PA.

Admiral Flaherty's career has encompassed the full spectrum of public, private, academic, and military service. Focusing on quality, access, and reliability of wounded warrior care, she is the embodiment of joint, interagency, academic, public, and private collaboration. Through far-reaching vision, dedication, and inspired leadership she improved health care operations across Navy Medicine and built relationships between Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense Health Systems. Her sustained performance reflects greatly on herself, the Department of Defense, and the United States of America. I extend my deepest appreciation on behalf of a grateful nation for her dedicated military service. Rear Admiral Flaherty, on the occasion of your retirement, I congratulate and thank you for your service.