Dental assistant embraces learning, helping others

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Dylan Gentile
  • 919th Special Operations Wing
When Citizen Air Commandos complete their routine preventative health assessments or finish out their pre-deployment checklists, they see numerous Airmen working in the 919th Special Operations Medical Squadron to keep the wing healthy and ready to go wherever the Air Force might need them.

Senior Airman Aaliyah Lawrence, 919th SOMDS dental assistant, works to keep members deployment ready by tracking and maintaining their overall dental health.

“It’s always great to help people,” said Lawrence. “I'm big on helping people out of the kindness of your heart.”

During drill weekends, she sets up dental treatment rooms, prepares for appointments, works the front desk, and sometimes helps facilitate X-rays. Lawrence also updates records and helps wherever she can in the squadron.

“She’s stepped up on multiple occasions and truly gone above and beyond,” said Lt. Col. Jenny Wylie, 919th SOMDS commander. “What makes her invaluable is her ability to fill critical needs for us in several different sections throughout the squadron.”

One of those roles Lawrence excelled in was documenting Coronavirus cases for the public health team when they needed an extra hand. She tracked workplaces for those exposed to COVID-19 on base while annotating their symptoms, previous travels, and members potentially exposed to COVID-19 in the community.

“I take on any tasks I can for the commander or any of the sections in our squadron,” said Lawrence. “I am happy to learn new things and train to take on those tasks.”

Lawrence exemplified this when she participated in the Delta Wellness Mission in Greenville, Mississippi, as part of an Innovative Readiness Training exercise last summer.

The training is an opportunity for reservists and guardsmen to use their annual tour to gain experience in the field while performing community service. As a dental assistant, Lawrence provided dental cleanings, X-rays, and even assisted with some minor surgical procedures.

Medics from the Air Force Reserve provided these services at no cost to members of the community during the IRT.

“She’s a go-getter,” said Wylie. “She’s helped us get a lot of jobs done.”

When she’s is not working for the squadron, Lawrence is studying for a degree in biology in health sciences and works as a pharmacy technician where she continues to support the health needs of her community.

“I joined [the Air Force] to give back to the community and be a part of something bigger than myself,” said Lawrence. “The Air Force has been my family and helped me grow in many areas I did not realize I lacked in. I have grown physically, mentally, and spiritually. The 919th SOMDS has been my home away from home.”