Additional Statementsby Senator Kelly Ayotte
Posted on 2015-01-13
AYOTTE. Mr. President, I wish to recognize the exceptional
service and the extraordinary life of Lt. Col. Stephanie Riley of
Born and raised in Henniker, NH, Stephanie graduated from Henniker High School in 1984. An excellent student, Stephanie attended St. Paul's advance studies program the summer before her senior year and was the valedictorian of her high school class. In 1988, she graduated cum laude from Boston College's School of Nursing and in 1989 was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force, where she completed a 4-month nursing internship at Travis Air Force Base in California. Following her internship, she was stationed at the Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana for the remainder of her 3-year tour.
In 1992, Colonel Riley entered the Inactive Ready Reserve and became a civilian travel nurse. Showing both her love for the military and her home State, she returned to New Hampshire in 2000 and joined the U.S. Air Force Reserves in Westover, MA, and then the NH Air National Guard in 2003. She subsequently volunteered for a tour abroad and deployed to Qatar in support of both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. She held appointments in the Medical Group as officer in charge of staff development, assistant chief nurse, and the chief of education and training. Colonel Riley was employed by the New Hampshire Army National Guard as a case manager and was active on State and national committees. She became a voice for National Guard members and New Hampshire veterans and was a key member of New Hampshire's State Veteran's Advisory Committee, the Military Officers Association of America, and the national and State chapters of the National Guard Association. She served in key leadership positions on the New Hampshire Legislative Commission on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury, TBI.
In October 2013, Steph was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, and in what may have been her most heroic effort, she channeled her energy into a personal and sustained effort to promote health screenings and cancer awareness. She posted openly on social media and spoke courageously about her decision to undergo a preemptive double mastectomy. She sparked a team, ``Steph Strong,'' that helped raise several thousand dollars for Concord Hospital. Her important message for all was to take preventative health screening seriously.
From her extensive military service, to her work as a civilian nurse, Stephanie devoted her life to serving others--a commitment that endured even while battling her own illness. She was taken from us far too soon but her legacy of compassion and her inspiring dedication to caring for her fellow citizens will live on through all those whose lives she touched.
Steph leaves behind the love of her life, her husband Shawn Riley, a deputy fire chief with the Laconia Fire Department, and their son Shane, age 13, and daughter Sammie Riley, age 9. We are all deeply saddened by the loss of our friend Lt. Col. Stephanie Riley, an extraordinary woman and proud New Hampshire daughter who served our State and Nation with honor, courage, and dedication. She represented the very best of our State, and I ask my colleagues to join me in sending Shawn and his family our deepest condolences and our gratitude for Steph's life and for her work.