Voices of the VaANG: Master Sgt. Karrie Santiago, 192nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kellyann Elish
  • 192nd Wing

July’s Voices of the VaANG is Master Sgt. Karrie Santiago, 192nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons standardization superintendent.

Q: Where are you from?
I was raised between Iowa and Nebraska, but home for me is Mead, Nebraska

Q: Why did you join the Virginia Air National Guard?
A: I was active duty here at Langley for four years. I joined the Guard in 2007 to set roots for my family.

Q: What is your role in the VaANG?
A: My current role is Weapons Standardization Manager. In this role I evaluate our load crews to ensure we stay proficient in our job. I am the only full time Guard member in my shop, so I also handle all the planning and coordination for drill weekends, and coordinating with the Weapons and Armament Flight chiefs to ensure all our weapons shops are following the same guidance.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your time in the VaANG?
A: I would like to get a feel for a couple different areas of our unit and eventually make senior master sergeant. Ultimately, I am working towards an AGR (Active Guard and Reserve) retirement.

Q: As one of few women in your shop, what advice can you provide to other women in similar situations?
Being one of the few women in maintenance can be challenging. My advice to other women would be to utilize your strengths and don’t feel like you’re alone. Always be willing to reach out to the other women within your squadron for help or advice when you need it.

Q: What opportunities has the VaANG and being AGR provided you that you may not have received in the civilian sector?
Joining the VaANG when I did has given me the opportunity to put down roots for my children. They have been given the chance to have one home and make great friends for life. Being AGR has provided me stability for my family that I wouldn’t have had in the civilian sector.

Q: What are some of your greatest accomplishments you’ve had in your military career so far? How has being in the VaANG helped with your success?
It’s not necessarily an accomplishment, I picture my whole career as an accomplishment, but I’ve had a lot of very cool opportunities throughout my career. Being the Union president while I was a technician, running a shop at Weapons Standardization Section, and taking part in the Sword Athena this year. I would highly suggest anyone who has an opportunity in front of them to take it. I’ve grown as a leader and learned how to communicate better through each opportunity I’ve had, and taking part in those things gave me a bigger view on the unit and Air Force as a whole.

Q: What is Sword Athena which you took part in this year? 
It was a group of women from across ACC (Air Combat Command) that came together for a week to pinpoint barriers for women in the military and put together a plan on how to solve some of the female or family-oriented issues that we face in the military. We split up into 5 different subgroups and each chose one or two issues to find solutions to. We then got to put together a briefing and were able to present our ideas to COMACC. It was very empowering coming together with that many other women to try and solve some of the issues we face.

Q: Any advice for fellow Airmen?
The biggest piece of advice is to always be looking at what you want next for your career and ask your supervisors what you need to accomplish that. Sometimes us supervisors get caught up in the day-to-day tasks and having an Airman ask for career guidance will bring us back down to where we should be focusing.