JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --
In the Air Force, we often face tough decisions and feel like we are alone. But relying on our military family can make all the difference.
In 2016, Staff Sgt. Shelby Pick, a crew chief for the 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, joined the Air Force Reserve taking steps toward her dream of becoming a pilot. Shortly into basic training, she was injured and began to suffer from 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” were the mantras Pick silently said to herself during boot camp.
After graduation, a military training leader inquired about Pick’s injuries. They noticed something was wrong when she participated in physical training. She told them about her injuries. She 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 Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 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 a commander with a mission-ready force, which includes assessing the health of the unit Airmen and espirt de corps.
Neubert said that an airman’s worst day is his best day in that he could help. When he can help an airman solve their problems, it makes his job worth it.
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 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.
Knowing her name gave Pick the courage to ask for help.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, call t446th Airlift Wing Director of Psychological Health Kristi McCann at 253-982-5496. She is available to listen to anyone needing encouragement or someone to talk to.