Throughout the US Navy, many service personnel talk about having two families. There is personal family: the people to whom you are bound by blood and marriage. And then, of course, there’s the “Navy Family”: those shipmates you work with, united through a shared mission and professional experiences.
For some serving in Navy Medicine today, the term Navy Family can have a very literal meaning. Just ask the Maldarelli sisters whose personal and Navy family intermingle.
Capt. Jill Maldarelli-Drey is a 22-year Navy veteran serving as Assistant Director for Nurse Corps Policy and Practice in the Bureau of Medicine (BUMED). Her younger sister, Lieutenant Commodore. Karen Maldarelli, a nine-year veteran, serves as the Plans, Operations, and Medical Intelligence (POMI) Officer at the Naval Medical Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
“We come from a family where medical care has always been of great importance,” said “Capt. Maldarelli-Drey. His mother, an aunt, and a cousin served as civilian nurses. When it came time to choose a profession, Maldarelli-Drey followed suit. After studying at Marymount University in Arlington, Va., and working at the Virginia Hospital Center (then known as Arlington Hospital), he decided to join the Navy. While she was in the service, she met her husband, a limited duty Navy air traffic control officer. And then in 2014, she Karen joined the Marine Medical Service Corps as a health care administrator.
“Growing up as Jill’s little sister, I learned a lot from her and have looked up to her a lot,” the lieutenant commander said. Maldarelli. “Just seeing Jill blossom in the Navy was exciting for me.”
Although her sister’s vocation was not in her cards, medical care was always an aspiration for this self-described “black sheep” from a family with deep roots in nursing. After graduating from Marymount University, she worked on transportation policy in the US House of Representatives and then finance in the private sector before completing a Master of Health Care Administration and Master of Business Administration. .
Throughout their careers, the Maldarelli sisters have collectively served in clinical and staff assignments, in training commands, as embarked personnel with fleet surgical teams, ashore at military treatment facilities (MTFs), on the operational side and for a time they simultaneously served in BUMED.
In 2022, this personal and family Navy connection grew even greater when her first cousin, Lt. (Junior Grade) Kyra Leszcynski, earned her commission in the Navy Nurse Corps. Leszcynski, who currently works in a nursing home at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, is the youngest of 16 grandchildren on her mother’s side. She credits the Maldarelli sisters with inspiring her own trip to the Navy.
“I had always been interested in the Navy,” Leszcynski said. “And at family gatherings, she would often ask Jill and Karen about her career. I saw the great careers they had and recognized that they were gathering life experiences that you couldn’t get in the civilian world.”
Throughout his time in the service, their career paths curiously intersected with that other Maldarelli, who is believed to be related through his great-grandfather.
Commander Suzanne Maldarelli, who currently serves as Chief of the Department of Personnel Training and Education and Leader of Market Training and Education at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, met Captain Jill Maldarelli-Drey when they were both junior nurses working in labor and deliveries at NMC Portsmouth. They later attended the University of North Florida together in Full Time Service Under Instruction (DUINS). While Jill and Karen’s great-grandfather, Francesco (Frank) Maldarelli, immigrated to the United States from Bari, Italy, Cmdr. Maldarelli’s grandfather, Giorgio (George), originated from Naples, Italy, and moved to the United States when he was young in the 1910s.
Despite not having the same healthcare roots as her “other family,” Cmdr. At Maldarelli there was always an expectation of military service. Due to injury and her age, her grandfather was not accepted into military service during World War II, however, all five of her sons served and represented the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Navy. Air National Guard. Suzanne’s brother served in the Marine Corps and helped inspire her own admission to the Marine Corps in 1999.
Throughout all of their careers, whether as nurses or healthcare administrators, care and support has been at the heart of what they do and, at the end of the day, remains the hallmark of what a family is.
“At the end of the day, your family is the people who love and support you,” said Capt. Maldarelli-Drey. “What I have always liked about Naval Medicine, especially in nursing, is that in addition to taking care of us on a day-to-day basis, in the event that you or a family member requires hospitalization or outpatient care, our colleagues in Medicine are of the Navy those who provide that attention. This takes the phrase ‘caring for each other’ to another level.”
“Family is also your shipmates,” said Cmdr. Susana Maldarelli. “This is not more evident than during the holidays, especially when you are abroad. The family really makes sure that you take care of them and that they take care of you.”
|Date to be held:||22.12.2022|
|Publication date:||22.12.2022 08:47|
|Location:||FALLS CHURCH, VA, USA|