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Face of Defense: Airman at Bagram Supports Air Power, Quality of Life

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan --

Deployments are part of the job description for members of the armed forces, but they can still cause a lot of stress in life.

Deployments here are no different, but the on-base facilities can help ease some of the pressures of life in a combat environment. And ensuring that each airman is taken care of and provided with the best quality of life is Air Force Senior Airman Astrid Hernandez, a contracting officer’s representative with the 455th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron.

“I look over the fitness centers, Morale, Welfare and Recreation [facilities] and lodging,” Hernandez said. “I help make improvements for the facilities and make sure the contractors are meeting standards and following guidelines.”

Hernandez said this has been a unique and rewarding experience and she’s always on the lookout for new ways to improve the lives of airmen here.

“Every day here is different,” she said. “We always have something going on here. One day we’ll be building bedframes for lodging. Other days, we’ll be moving equipment from one gym to another. So we stay busy changing things and making improvements to help with the quality of life for Airmen.”

According to Air Force Capt. Ricci Hall, the director of operations for the455th EFSS, it is airmen like Hernandez who make the force support mission happen every day.

“This EFSS is a team of unsung heroes and Hernandez is a rock star,” Hall said. “She has a desire to learn new things, takes pride in what she does, and has yet to shy away from any challenge given to her. We have watched her grow and develop so much on this deployment.”

She added that Hernandez is an extremely hard worker and plays an important role in her three-person team of contracting officer’s representatives.

”Hernandez was a newly pinned senior airman filling an noncommissioned officer billet, with no COR experience,” Hall said. “Now she manages one of the largest purchasing accounts in the wing, improving [quality of life] for the entire base. She has become an awesome proactive airman during her time at Bagram and we are so very proud to see the [noncommissioned officer] she will become.”

See the World

Hailing from Oregon, Hernandez is deployed from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, and has been in the Air Force for 3 years.

“I joined the Air force to travel and for education,” Hernandez said. “I am a triplet, so paying for school was going to be very expensive. Joining the military was the best option for me because I get to travel, go to school and meet new people.”

This is her first deployment, she said, adding that she was a little worried about it..

“I was nervous and excited when I found out I was deploying,” Hernandez said. “Nervous because I was the only one in my unit deploying here to Afghanistan. I was excited because this is my first deployment and I was ready to get here and get the experience.”

The mission of the 455th EFSS is, put simply, to take care of airmen.

“My job here is important because through lodging, we give people a place to stay,” Hernandez said. “Our MWR [facilities] provide a place for everyone to come together and socialize. Our fitness centers help us stay physically fit for the mission and a lot of people find fitness a stress reliever.

”If I weren’t here, the morale here would be really low. We plan events to make sure everyone has fun and can de-stress,” she said. “Being a part of the [force support squadron], we support everyone here. Whether that is through our lodging facility, fitness centers, or MWRs, we make sure we take care of each other.”