Proud Serving As An American Woman
by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brieana E. Bolfing
She casually strolled into a crowded
auditorium when the sudden eruption of music came over the speakers.
“American Woman, stay away from me!” rang out across the room while
she walked inside, breezing past dozens of proudly hanging U.S.
flags. Everyone arose from their chairs with a thunderous applause.
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Lisa Guzman, 374th Medical Support Squadron commander,
teared up as she recalled the celebration her Wingmen planned when
she finally became a U.S. citizen.
Lt. Col. Lisa Guzman, 374th Medical Support Squadron commander, stands in front of a computerized tomography room during an inspection at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Oct. 8, 2021. Guzman, a native of Mexico, joined the Air Force and became a U.S. citizen in 2001. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brieana E. Bolfing)
“I was born and raised in
Mexico,” Guzman said. “When I was 15 years old, I obtained my green
card and moved to California for high school. After graduating, I
started working at a print shop. It was my first and only job before
the military. It was very labor-intensive and made it hard to
balance time for my college education.”
After struggling for
a bit, Guzman realized that she needed a change. On the advice of a
friend, she reached out to her local recruiter to gather
The recruiter recommended applying for the
academy based on her current grades, but as she filled out the
application, Guzman encountered her first obstacle.
was one block that I left blank and it was the one for naturalized
or U.S. citizen,” recalled Guzman. “When my recruiter pointed out
the omission, I replied ‘well, it's neither one for me,’ and
explained that I was an immigrant with a green card. He told me that
because of my status, I could not apply for the academy.”
Quickly offering up another option, he suggested enlisting.
“I remember thinking about the possibilities,” Guzman said. “It was
a dream come true for me, considering my background. I grew up with
a very humble upbringing. Considering the benefits, I gladly said
‘sign me up.’”
An added bonus to serving was becoming a U.S.
citizen in only three years.
“I interviewed for my
citizenship in Atlanta the week before my re-enlistment,” Guzman
said. “If I was not a citizen before my re-enlistment I would not be
allowed to continue serving. I passed the interview and I took the
oath right then and there.”
Alone in the courtroom, she took
her oath and walked out a U.S. citizen.
While her family and
friends were not there to see her, it did not take away the pride
she felt in her accomplishment.
But the next day, she was
surprised with her ‘American Woman’ celebration.
Master Sgt. Connor Galvin, 374th Medical Support Squadron section chief inventory control, left, conducts a safety inspection with Lt. Col. Lisa Guzman, 374th MDSS commander, at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Oct. 8, 2021. Guzman is responsible for overseeing any maintenance and upgrades for the 374th Medical Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brieana E. Bolfing)
“It made me
realize that my Wingmen were my family too,” said Guzman. “It was
even more overwhelming how they all embraced me. My Air Force family
congratulated me on finally becoming a citizen.
system pushed me to become better. From basic training to getting my
citizenship and finally commissioning, they were all life changing
moments. Those moments were witnessed and celebrated with my new
The Air Force offers many benefits such as education
opportunities, traveling the world, and even obtaining an U.S.
citizenship, but to Guzman there was one perk that she valued the
most as a Hispanic-American. It was the realization that regardless
of where she started, she always had a family within the Air Force.
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