Women's History Month: An NCO's perspective

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Tech. Sgt. Maribelle Hernandez is a manpower analyst and Bronx, N.Y., native who has served in the U.S. Air Force for ten years. Women's History Month started as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress authorized the president to proclaim the week of March 7, 1982, as Women's History Week.



What does being a woman in the military mean to you?

I'm so busy as an NCO that I don't categorize myself as just a female. As an NCO, I do what I have to do to get the job done. The mindset has changed a lot since I first enlisted. Women couldn't fill combat roles, but we are now going through a transition that allows us to do so. Our role in protecting our country no longer has limits. At the beginning and end of the day, we are all Airmen.

What's it like being a woman in the military?

It's empowering. People talk about the glass ceiling but you also have an inner [desire] to be better than you were yesterday. I don't feel limited to what I can accomplish. Now that I have a daughter I understand the impact I can make even outside of the service. During physical training at Non-Commissioned Officer Academy, I heard my daughter say, "Mommy is so fast, she is passing those guys!" That was awesome to hear and it made me think about the young female Airmen who all lead by example.



Why did you join the military? What keeps you in the service?

I joined when I was 22 years old; my husband encouraged me to join. It wasn't an easy decision. I needed to have a completely different mindset because I had to find a happy medium between my career and family. I am still serving because I truly love being an Airman. It has been the most fulfilling thing besides being a mother. Even to this day, I get goose bumps, just like I did when I graduated Basic Military Training and first heard the national anthem as an official Airman. I have so much pride in my service because I know how my job impacts others.

Do you have any advice for women hoping to join the military?

Don't downplay yourself just because you are a female, don't allow anyone else to do it either. We bring something different to the fight. Regardless of the mission, we can accomplish it just like anybody else. We are just another person in the fight protecting our country. A lot of young Airmen don't realize it, but you need to understand how your job impacts the Air Force. We all truly make a difference in the world.

Do you have personal motto?

I use the acronym APP. APP stands for Attitude, Performance and Passion. Having a positive attitude can make a difference every single day. A positive attitude ties directly into your performance. Performance is doing your job to the best of your ability every day. Lastly, passion kicks in when you are having a bad day. I always tell people to carry two things with them for inspiration; a coin and something that touches your heart. The coin will help you remember the hard and excellent work you did to earn it. The thing that touches your heart can be anything, for me it's family. I have pictures of them to remind me of my passion to do better.