Taking care of others: Senior Airman Ashley Boeckholt

As early as the American Revolution, serving as nurses, cooks -- and water bearers, women have played a pivotal role in American military success. Today, however, women in the military have stepped out of the shadows and into nearly all of the Air Force’s more than 130 different career fields. Among these diverse career fields are dedicated female Airmen, like Senior Airman Ashley Boeckholt, 30th Medical Operations Squadron public health technician. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by 30th Space Wing Public Affairs/Released)

As early as the American Revolution, serving as nurses, cooks -- and water bearers, women have played a pivotal role in American military success. Today, however, women in the military have stepped out of the shadows and into nearly all of the Air Force’s more than 130 different career fields. Among these diverse career fields are dedicated female Airmen, like Senior Airman Ashley Boeckholt, 30th Medical Operations Squadron public health technician. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by 30th Space Wing Public Affairs/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- As early as the American Revolution, serving as nurses, cooks -- and water bearers, women have played a pivotal role in American military success.

Today, however, women in the military have stepped out of the shadows and into nearly all of the Air Force's more than 130 different career fields. Among these diverse career fields are dedicated female Airmen, like Senior Airman Ashley Boeckholt, 30th Medical Operations Squadron public health technician.

"My job is really to take care of people in a variety of ways," said Boeckholt. "I am in charge of the Preventative Health Assessment and Deployment Health Assessment Cell, as well as travel medicine. Some of what I do in deployment health includes making sure all deploying members receive proper medical requirements specific to the location they are deploying to. This also includes immunizations, labs, mental health appointments and any medication they may require. I also give them a medical intelligence briefing specific to the location, on endemic diseases and how to stay safe and healthy while traveling in a new country."

Establishing a track record of exemplary performance, Boeckholt's past leadership can attest to her dedicated demeanor.

"Senior Airman Boeckholt is an Airman who makes going to work each day better for the entire office," said Maj. Heath Woockman, 380th Expeditionary Medical Group public health officer. "She turns direction and mentorship into action, not only for herself, but she passes along those lessons to the people she works with. She takes pride in doing whatever job is placed before her and does it to the best of her ability."

Boeckholt's current leadership also believes her caring personality and dedication to mission success create an ideal representation of the caliber of women in the military.

"I think she embodies those characteristics of a strong military woman," said Capt. Allison Bradford, 30th MDOS public health flight commander. "Often, women get pigeonholed into specific types - either a domineering 'type A' persona, or a meek but 'really nice' persona. She shows that you can be smart, know your job, and get the mission done - while still being personable and garnering the support of your peers and leadership."

Although she feels gender equality has come a long way, Boeckholt aims to close any inequality gaps by simply consistently performing her duties to the best of her ability.

"I definitely think we are moving in the right direction when it comes to equality," said Boeckholt. "It's important not to lower the standards, but if women can meet the same standard as men, they should be able to do the same jobs. It's really vital for me to accurately represent women in the military because I feel like if I do my best at all times, other people will see that and it will help them realize that what we're capable of, is not always determined by our gender." 

In addition to impressing her current leadership, Boeckholt recently left a positive mark on her Airman Leadership School instructors.

"From my experience with Senior Airman Boeckholt, I think she can handle any challenge women face in the military because of her professional approach," said Staff Sgt. Nadine Hose, 30th Force Support Squadron ALS instructor. "She is a positive role model for younger Airmen because she shows compassion, motivation, dedication and drive that can inspire others to follow suit."

Not satisfied with merely impressing her ALS instructors, Boeckholt left the class with the Commandant Leadership Award. Selected by her peers, the award was given to the student who displayed all the characteristics of an effective leader.

"For us, (the award) only re-affirmed what we already know about Senior Airman Boeckholt," said Bradford. "Being a leader isn't about who has the most rank or time in service, but rather the ability to balance the needs of the mission and that of the people who work with and for you. She is truly a leader among her peers, and has all the makings of being an excellent NCO and, hopefully one day, SNCO."

While Boeckholt understands the Air Force will always have room to improve, she chooses to focus on the positive mentorship she's received and only hopes to provide the same for future subordinates.

"I am absolutely happy I joined the military," said Boeckholt. "Things aren't always perfect, but I think there are some great mentors in the Air Force. One of my biggest female role models has been my previous NCOIC, who trained me when I first came in. I admired her passion for people and the Air Force. She demanded a lot of me at a low rank, and that inspired me to work harder and reach my full potential. She showed me that rank doesn't determine your capability. I hope to one day be as much an inspiration to my future Airmen, as she was to me."