Every Nov. 11, the United States honors those who served in the military with a day to commemorate their service: Veterans Day.
At Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, we salute the veterans who bring their valuable experience and knowledge to our university as faculty, staff and students. This week, we will recognize some of those individuals. We thank all veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice.
Andrea Tawney, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for TTUHSC El Paso’s Office of Institutional Advancement, served four years of active duty in the Air Force, but was first exposed to the military in high school.
Tawney was In junior ROTC for three years in high school where she had the opportunity to experience mini-boot camps at the local Air Force base and meet the men and women who were serving.
“I knew it was my calling because I had a strong sense of pride every time I heard ‘Taps’ or ‘Reveille’ playing,” Tawney said. “I still get goosebumps every time I hear ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’ Joining the Air Force afforded me the opportunity to serve my country, go to college, and travel the world with some of the most talented and selfless people I’ve ever had the honor of knowing.”
Camaraderie is one aspect of serving in the military that sticks out for Tawney when she thinks of her time in the Air Force.
“One of the most memorable times in the military was arriving to Bogota, Colombia for my first tour of duty overseas,” Tawney said. “I didn’t know what to expect because you hear so many conflicting reports and worst-case scenario threat briefings. I was a young airman and had just turned 21. My first night in Bogota, I was in an apartment by myself and all of the power went out across our neighborhood. I had no phone service and no way to communicate with anyone outside of my apartment. I wasn’t sure if this was some type of insurgent attack or just a power outage in the area. Within 15 minutes, my fellow servicemen came to the door (though I was scared at first not knowing who was at my door) and made sure I had supplies to get me through to morning. This small example is what it means to be part of an armed service family when you are thousands of miles away from your own family. We take care of each other and don’t hesitate to make sacrifices for one another.”
Tawney credits serving in the military with shaping her entire career.
“The discipline, integrity and commitment to the highest standards are values that drive my efforts each day in my personal and professional life,” Tawney said. “I often tell people I wish every American could serve for at least year because the world perspective and appreciation for our great country is unmatched until you experience it firsthand.”