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Medic, part-time construction worker, student: Deployed Airman does it all

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Kelly Ogden
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)
She stands on top of scaffolding at a school addition construction site in Belize, profusely sweating from spending more than 12 hours per day out in the sun, fatigued from laying block after cement block and covered from head to toe in dust and debris. You might think that she has spent every day of her adult life doing construction work because she just fits in, but you'd be wrong.

Senior Airman Alyssa Reno, a Lewiston, Idaho, native, is no engineer. In fact, until about 23 days ago she had never spent a day in her life working on a construction site.

So, what is this 5-foot-tall young Airman doing in Belize?

She's a medic from the 366th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, assigned to the U.S. Southern Command-sponsored New Horizons exercise in Belize. She spends her days rotating amongst four different school construction site projects, providing medical treatment to injured engineers and making sure the military members stay properly hydrated to avoid heat-related injuries.

"It's a different environment," Reno said. "I normally don't really spend much time out of my job at the hospital. ... This is a great experience. I get to see all of these very young Airmen, Marines and Soldiers work so hard on a daily basis; it's impressive."

Reno, who joined the Air Force three years ago, came in for educational benefits and to travel.

Her parents, who weren't too keen on having Alyssa, their only child, enlist in the military, offered to pay her college tuition if she didn't join. Luckily for her parents, after graduating from basic and technical training she ended up stationed right back where she started: Idaho.

"My parents are now glad that I joined. They've seen what the Air Force has done for me and how much I've grown since I've been in," she said.

And how she has grown in her career: as the 366th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Airman of the Year and as the Air Combat Command Olsen-Wegner Aerospace Medicine Technician of the Year, her career in the Air Force has clearly taken off.

But, she still remains grounded.

According to Reno, it all goes back to her mother and father wanting the best for their daughter.

"I'm thankful for my parents. They are the most supportive parents that I could ever ask for; their support is a big part of why I am who I am today."

Apart from her current deployment to Belize, she's not traveling much these days. Instead, she's chosen to work toward a degree in physical therapy at Boise State, complete her personal training certificate through the International Sports Sciences Association and volunteer in the community. She does all of this and still finds time for her hobbies, which include hiking, biking and running, and for her boyfriend, Jeff, an Air Force firefighter.

After completing her current deployment, Reno will most likely leave active duty military service for a position in the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve so she can concentrate on her education full time.