Reservist makes unique contribution to fellow service members

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jessica Andrews
  • 459th Aeromedical Staging Squadron
When you make the decision to join the military, you play a significant role as an American citizen. When I signed up to become a Airman, I did so with the intent of giving back to my country. I didn't realize that there are many other ways to contribute.

As some of you may know, I was a Washington Redskins Cheerleader Ambassador last season. With that, a lot of doors began to open up for me. I learned about an organization called "Sweethearts for Soldiers," a group of former NFL cheerleaders with a special connection to the military. They put together a military themed calendar every year to send to the troops with care packages. Well I certainly qualified being that I was in the Air Force.

The Sweethearts were offered the chance to visit our Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers and Marines on a10-day visit to Iraq and Kuwait. I and five others were able to go, and it truly was truly a privilege to visit our nation's heroes. Even though I've volunteered for every air expeditionary force rotation that has come up, I have not yet been selected. This was a unique way to get somewhat of a "backstage pass" to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

It was especially cool when I could hand deliver some cards that Col. Stayce Harris, 459th Air Refueling Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Patti Hickman, 459th ARW command chief, put together for wing members stationed at various bases in Kuwait and Iraq. While on one of my meet-and-greets in Kuwait, I was able to talk to Staff Sgt. Larry Minor, 459th ASTS medical technician. It was so incredible to be in the same country as some of my fellow wing members; I will never forget how that felt.

Our troops are putting their lives on the line everyday and I couldn't believe they were thanking me just for spending an hour or so with them. But, it just goes to show you that it's the little things you do to show your appreciation for our troops that go a long way. It was a little surreal to be there in a civilian capacity, but it gave me an important perspective.

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