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'He Knew My Name': Reserve Citizen Airman finds courage to seek help

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nije Hightower

After years of trying to hide a painful medical condition, a Reserve Citizen Airman crew chief assigned to the 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, recently learned how important it can be to ask for help.

In 2016, now-Staff Sgt. Shelby Pick joined the Air Force Reserve with the hope of someday becoming a pilot. Shortly into basic training, she was injured and began to suffer from multiple stress fractures. Although she was in pain, Pick was determined to persevere through boot camp.

“I’m going to make it. I’m going to force myself through this,” Pick told herself repeatedly during basic training.

After graduation, a military training leader inquired about Pick’s injuries after noticing something was wrong when she participated in physical training. She told the trainers about her injuries, and walked on crutches for the rest of her time in technical training school.

When she returned to her unit, she saw several doctors, who recommended a wheelchair for six months to properly recover. Pick didn’t know what to do, how this would affect her military career or her dreams of becoming a pilot. She decided that she was going to once again push through the injury until her military contract ended.

She pushed through the injury for five years while trying to fly under the radar in her unit. This led to her feeling invisible - but she wasn’t.

One day, Senior Master Sgt. Greg Neubert, the first sergeant for the 446th AMS, stopped by and spoke with Pick. Someone on her leadership team acknowledged her.

“He knew my name,” said Pick. “That was it. After that, I went to his office and broke down crying.”

After six years, Pick gained enough courage to ask her leadership for help to address her medical injuries.

“My heart was aching because I wanted to be the best and succeed and not fail,” said Pick.

Pick finally was ready to get the help she needed to excel in her military career.

As a first sergeant, Neubert advises the unit commander on matters of enlisted morale, welfare and conduct. He also helps provide the commander with a mission-ready force, which includes assessing the health of unit Airmen.

After Pick opened up about her struggles with medical issues, Neubert encouraged her to go through the medical process. She is currently in physical therapy, on an extension and has the proper waivers in place to heal.

Pick was recently promoted to staff sergeant and won the John Levitow Award. The award goes to the student who achieves the highest overall standing from a combination of academic scores, performance evaluation and leadership qualities. It's the highest honor awarded to a student in Airman Leadership School.

Pick re-enlisted and is excited to continue her Air Force career and being one step closer to fulfilling her dream of becoming a pilot. All it took for Pick to excel in her military career was someone to notice her. That gave Pick the courage to ask for help. #ReserveResilient

(Hightower is assigned to the 446th Airlift Wing public affairs office.) ■