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Reservist journeys from first sergeant to flight nurse

(Left) 1st Lt. Julia Lesage, a former first sergeant now flight nurse with the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, and Senior Airman Josh Lykins, 315th AES medical technician, buckle in a simulated patient during a training mission aboard a C-17 Globemaster III en route to Ramstein Air Base Germany Jan. 13, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tom Brading)

(Left) 1st Lt. Julia Lesage, a former first sergeant now flight nurse with the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, and Senior Airman Josh Lykins, 315th AES medical technician, buckle in a simulated patient during a training mission aboard a C-17 Globemaster III en route to Ramstein Air Base Germany Jan. 13, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tom Brading)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- After 22-years of service, most people start thinking about retirement… well, not everyone.

In a somewhat unusual move, 1st Lt. Julia Lesage, a former first sergeant, decided after more than two decades in the Air Force to hang up her stripes and pursue a commission to become a flight nurse.

The former first sergeant with both the 315th Operations Support Squadron and 317th Airlift Squadron, credits mentorship from her past commanders for helping her to reach her goals.

“I never dreamed it would be possible this late in my career,” said Lesage. “I have had great commanders who really pushed me to finish my bachelor’s degree and to apply to be a flight nurse. They were all very supportive.”

After finding out she was not over the age limit, she decided to apply for a position as a flight nurse. “It was not easy, but on the day I graduated, I had my diploma ready and turned in my package,” she said.

Lesage laughingly said that her commissioning package was initially turned down because she had more than 18-years of service. “I was very persistent and didn’t give up,” she said with a smirk. “Once they realized what I had to offer, I was accepted.”

The application process for a direct commission to become a flight nurse was just under two years for her. “It was a struggle. But, I absolutely love flying and I am so glad I stuck with it,” she said.

The 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron is also excited about the experience Lesage brings to the table, said Maj. Patrick Kennedy, chief of standardization and evaluation for the 315 AES. “She is doing extremely well,” he said. “She is self-confidant and an excellent communicator.”

He also added that her prior enlisted background makes her a very well rounded nurse.

Lesage has also become a mentor for others wishing to apply for a commission or to become a flight nurse.

“People mentored me, and I just want to pass that along. If we keep that chain going, it makes for a much stronger force,” she said. “Everyone who tells me they are thinking about going to nursing school, I immediately try to help them. It’s a long process, but completely worth it!”

Asking, what advice she has for others thinking about seeking a commission, she stressed the importance of finding a mentor. “Don’t let anyone tell you no and get with someone who knows what resources are out there,” she said. “Use your first sergeant or commander, or they can always call me.”

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