By Mark Oswell
WRNMMC PA Specialist
In 1989, Joy Napper graduated from the
University of Pittsburgh and joined the U.S. Army.
After 28 years of service, now Army
Col. Joy Napper will formally retire on May 1, 2018.
During her nearly three decades of
service, she has had eight duty assignments spanning from San Antonio, Texas to
Fort Campbell, Kentucky – and two deployments overseas to South Korea and Iraq.
More recently, Napper brought her
experience to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where she now serves
as deputy director for quality. Prior to this assignment, she served as the
hospital’s department chief of Hospital Education and Training, as well as the
deputy director for nursing at WRNMMC.
While serving in the latter role,
Napper helped forge WRNMMC’s relationship with Auburn University student
nursing program, Project SERVE, which she describes as one of her most
rewarding experience as an Army nurse. The program is designed to provide nursing
students an educational experience to give them the skills to manage the unique
needs of military members, veterans and their families.
“They were able to witness our care and
compassion for our wounded warrior population, and the talks with the Soldiers,
Sailors and family members were priceless,” explained Napper, who hails from Rochester,
Pennsylvania. “I will always cherish this lasting partnership, and I am
grateful to have been a part of the first meeting to its implementation,” she
said about the Project SERVE initiative.
Napper explained the greatest challenge
she faced during her years in uniform was leading and motivating personnel
during an 11-month deployment to Iraq. The deployment included 12-hour
daily shifts and multiple days of 99-degree nights.
“We were the ‘Burn Center’ for the
entire region, Napper added. “We had numerous patients with penetrating and
blunt trauma, but the majority of our patients suffered from second- and third-degree
burns related to IED blasts and other explosives.”
“You have to look for opportunities to
encourage personnel when people are just tired,” Napper said.
After retiring, Napper plans to continue
her educational goals by earning a Doctorate in Nursing Practice from the
University of Maryland, and then work in the Baltimore area before eventually moving
to North Carolina.