Military stint shaped career of Karen Bailey

Published 5:00 am Thursday, November 9, 2023

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Serving in the U.S. Army was a turning point in the life of Karen Bailey.

Bailey was a member of the 24th Infantry Division, Persian Gulf that served in Desert Storm in 1991.  At age 21, she enlisted in the Army as an Intelligence Analyst.  Her father, Harold Thomas Sr., served in Vietnam twice.

“My dad begged me not to do it,” Bailey said. “He wanted me to become a nurse. I figured that I could make him proud, and I did.”

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During her time in the military, Bailey married and had a daughter, Heather. After serving five years, Bailey divorced and re-joined her parents, Harriett and Harold Thomas Sr., who lived in Selma.

As a registered nurse, Bailey eventually found a career and is now the Core Site Coordinator at the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) and DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (DCOM).  Vaughn Regional Medical Center oversees both departments, whose purpose is to get third- and fourth-year medical students ready for residency.

In 2000, Bailey married Dr. Boyd Bailey, a former Program Director of UAB Selma Family Medicine Residency. They have been married for 23 years.

“We cherish her, and thank God for her,” Boyd said. “I could go on and on about her unselfishness, her humility, her humbleness, and her accomplishments, but she would feel embarrassed, even though all perfectly true. In our family, Karen is a hero to each and every one of us.”

Bailey eventually worked herself into becoming part of the Selma and Dallas Communities.  She joined the Gamma Alpha Alpha Zeta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., whose member Dr. Constance Hendricks gladly welcomed her.

“Karen is one who’s committed and is all-in,” Hendricks said. “She brings skills to enhance us and ‘you can count on me’ spirit.”