Voices of the VaANG: Airman 1st Class Chelsea De Avila, 192nd Comptroller Flight travel technician

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

This edition of the Voices of the VaANG is Airman 1st Class Chelsea De Avila, 192nd Comptroller Flight travel technician. She recently got the chance to uncase the positional colors presented to Senior Enlisted Advisor Tony Whitehead by Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Nov. 1, 2023. This marked the first time a senior enlisted advisor to the National Guard chief was recognized with such colors, a significant milestone in a tradition that dates back to 1636. Watch the video here where you can see De Avila in action!

𝐐: 𝐖𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐠𝐫𝐨𝐰 𝐮𝐩?
𝐀: I was born in D.C. and pretty much grew up right outside of D.C. in Chevy Chase, Maryland. I went to college at Indiana University and moved back to D.C. I’ve lived in Manhattan, and I lived outside Boston while my husband was going to school at Harvard Kennedy School. I was in Massachusetts during Covid, and that was the period of time when I was looking into joining the military and making a big life change. It probably took me about two years to actually sign my contract with the Air Force.

𝐐: 𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐣𝐨𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐕𝐚𝐀𝐍𝐆?
𝐀: My husband is in the Marine Corps and when Covid hit, I started reevaluating my life. That got me looking into joining the National Guard. I initially was looking into the Army because I didn’t know the Air Force had a Guard. Then I started talking to people, finding out a little bit about the Army and the Air Force, and everyone told me to “Go Air Force!” I was born and raised in the D.C. area, and I didn’t want to stay in that area. I wanted to get out and explore a different area.

𝐐: 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐚𝐧 𝐬𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐨𝐫 𝐛𝐞𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐣𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐕𝐚𝐀𝐍𝐆?
𝐀: I was the director of special events in a fine dining restaurant next to the White House for 12 and a half years.

𝐐: 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐣𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠?
𝐀: Joining this particular unit in finance, everyone has been extremely helpful in setting me up, making sure I know the right thing to do, getting moved here, and helping me anytime I have a question. Student flight was really interesting being able to get to know the people that you will work with for those few months while you’re waiting to get your dates to leave [for basic military training].

BMT, I didn’t so much enjoy it, although it’s definitely an experience I’ll always remember. I like that it’s a shared experience, and that’s the one shared experience because everyone’s tech school can be so different. I’m glad to have a shared experience with my husband like the gas chamber and CATM [combat arms training and maintenance]. Tech school I really enjoyed because you actually get to know people, and I still remain in contact with them.

𝐐: 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐣𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐥𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐣𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐀𝐢𝐫𝐦𝐞𝐧 𝐝𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠?
𝐀: A lot of people will wonder, when you are older and going through BMT, well why did you decide to do that, and everyone you’re going to be surrounded by is going to be really young, like 17-18 years old. But at the same time, I had so much respect for all of them because there are so many things you have to do that are uncomfortable in going through the process, and I never had that confidence when I was that age. So rather than looking down on them because they were so much younger, I actually had a lot of respect for them.

𝐐: 𝐀𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐠𝐥𝐚𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐦𝐚𝐝𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐣𝐨𝐢𝐧?
𝐀: I’m so glad that I made this change. One thing I’m very fortunate for is being accepted into an AGR position. Thinking back, I don’t know what I would have done having quit my job and then going into a DSG [drill status guardsman] position and having to find another civilian job. I wanted to continue working with the military in any capacity. But active duty is really hard because you never know where you’re going to end up. So I have to say I am very fortunate I was offered this position, and hope I can grow and maybe stay here until I can retire.