By Lt. j.g. Courtney Prizer
Not only does Capt. Kathy Thorp support military service members as the founder of Operation Welcome Home Maryland, she also cares for them as a Navy nurse in the United States Navy Reserve where she is assigned to Navy Operational Support Center, Baltimore.
A native of Orchard Park, and resident of Arnold, Thorp is a 1977 graduate of Immaculata Academy in Hamburg. She later earned degrees from D'Youville College (1980) in Buffalo and the University of Maryland in 2011. She has served in the Navy Reserve for 34 years, joining immediately after graduating from college to further her career and serve her country at the same time.
"I was looking for an opportunity to work in a military hospital, not only to grow my own skills, but to help teach, mentor and prepare other sailors as well," she said.
Thorp is assigned to the National Intrepid Center of Excellence located at the military hospital, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in her civilian career as well. Her two careers are complementary, allowing her to use skills from one to benefit the other.
"Serving in the Navy Reserve has befitted my civilian career by helping those in the civilian sector understand the challenges our military face, each and every day," Thorp said. "I can talk with those who have never had the experience of working in a military hospital setting, to help them understand the military culture so that we can fully support those who care for our wounded warriors. My civilian employer actually hired me because of my military background and leadership abilities."
Her dual role also has led her to engage her community to further support other veterans through Operation Welcome Home Maryland, an organization Thorp founded in 2007.
"Volunteers greet our service members as they return from their deployments through the International doors at BWI Airport," she said. "Over 600,000 service members have been greeted since 2007, with thousands of volunteers from schools, colleges, veterans' organizations, church groups and other organizations participating."
Vice Adm. Robin Braun, chief of the Navy Reserve, said she is proud to lead such a talented and dedicated group of sailors.
"The commitment of our talented sailors to the Navy, their shipmates and their community is truly inspirational," she said. "Their continued dedicated service in support of the Navy, Marine Corps and Joint Force lends credence to our motto: 'Ready now. Anytime, Anywhere.'"
March 3 marks 100 years of the U.S. Navy Reserve. Throughout the year, Navy Reserve units will be celebrating the accomplishments of reserve sailors past and present.
Find out more about the celebration at http://navyreservecentennial.com/.