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Military Drive

  • Published
  • By Capt. Anastasia Pyzhov
  • 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
The military is something I have wanted to immerse myself into ever since high school. I was born in Russia and grew up in a quiet city in eastern Kansas. I was very shy and never dreamed I would be in the American armed forces. My family and I were on a vacation in Colorado when we visited the U.S. Air Force Academy, I was about 17 years old. I observed a group of cadets marching in formation being led by an older female cadet. It was then I first realized that females can play an active role in the military.

I have not always been in this country; my parents, two sisters and I immigrated to the U.S. in 1989, and I have always been grateful to my family and God for bringing me here. My family values education and I decided to go to college in Kansas. Before applying, I researched universities and discovered the average student comes out of college with about $20,000 of student debt. I was disappointed until my dad came to me and said, "You are not an average student and not only will you not have debt, but money left over."

I did not believe him at the time, but through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship and residential assisting, I was able to do just that. My ROTC experience was instrumental for my personal and professional development. The program propelled me out of my "shell" and guided me through challenging obstacles that I would have never found myself in if I had just been an ordinary college student.

I learned to multi-task, lead a formation, build friendships, follow orders, become more physically fit all while being challenged every week by my cadre leadership. America provides so many opportunities for education and personal growth. I know I would not have gotten the chance to experience that in Russia, as I have been back many times and see how difficult it is just to survive at times. I could not think of a better way to pay back this wonderful country than to serve in the U.S. Air Force. I am grateful everyday for what I have.

I am currently in the fourth year of my military career and have recently joined the 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Scott Air Force Base. As a flight nurse, I am responsible for medically evacuating patients to higher levels of care all over the Midwest. I am also scheduled to leave for deployment in less than a month. Deploying for the first time is a new and exciting time in my career, and I find that having wingmen and family members to support me through the pre-deployment process has made it less stressful. No matter what lies ahead, I will always be grateful for my military experiences and the challenges it provides for my professional and personal development.