Nurse to Navy: all in a day’s work

(Lancaster Online) Surrounded by co-workers and family, Lancaster General Hospital critical care nurse Kara DeWalt of East Hempfield was commissioned Jan. 8 into the United States Navy.

But she didn’t have to travel to the Naval Support Activity in Philadelphia for the ceremony — the sixth-floor Intensive Care Unit was the scene.

LGH President and CEO Thomas E. Beeman, who’s also a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy, offered to commission DeWalt at work.

“I feel very honored and thankful that Admiral Beeman was here for this very special moment in my life,” says DeWalt. “His support during the commissioning process, that takes many months to finalize, was invaluable to me.”

As Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG), Nurse Corp (NC), DeWalt will report for Officer Development School in Newport, RI, on Feb. 3 for five weeks, then will travel to Portsmouth Naval Medical Center in Virginia to work as an active duty critical care nurse for the next four years.

And DeWalt isn’t the only family member in military service.

Her son Alexander “AJ” DeWalt, 18, has enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and starts basic training Feb. 12 in San Antonio.

“AJ’s decision to go into the service inspired me to want to serve my country as well,” says DeWalt, who adds that her goal is to pursue a master’s degree in nursing.

A graduate of Warwick High School, DeWalt earned her nursing degree from Lancaster General College of Nursing and Health Sciences in 1999. After four years in Cardio Thoracic Intensive Care at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, she returned to Lancaster to work in LGH’s ICU and complete her Bachelor of Nursing Degree from Millersville University.