New Mexican named Air National Guard Public Health NCO of the Year
By Airman Tyler Catanach, 150th SOW
/ Published March 24, 2021
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. – The U.S. Air National Guard has selected Tech. Sgt. Raven Lopez as the 2020 Public Health Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
Lopez serves in the New Mexico Air National Guard’s 150th Medical Group.
Her accomplishments include being part of the Cares Act team, running the COVID-19 quarantine tracker, overseeing military members being returned to duty, and coordinating with the Army National Guard on coronavirus response.
Through her time in the service, Lopez is no stranger to public health emergencies like the coronavirus.
“I’ve gone through the Ebola scare, we did Zika, and now we're working on COVID,” Lopez said.
Lopez, a New Mexico native, started her military career right out of high school by joining the active duty Air Force. That also marked the beginning of her career in the health field.
“At the end of basic they told me that I would be in Security Forces, Public Health or an X-Ray technician,” said Lopez. “I got public health, and it has really became something I’m interested in”
She transitioned to the NMANG in 2016.
During the pandemic, one of her biggest challenges has been managing the COVID call line. She has had to keep track of symptom and exposure reports while updating the tracker and clearing members to get back to work. All this was in addition to her normal workload.
“Although I’m the one being recognized for my work, I couldn't have done it without the medical team. The leadership that helps guide my decision making, the NCOs that support not only myself but my program, and the Airmen that are willing to go above and beyond to help all contributed so much to this,” Lopez said.
“It’s important to also acknowledge the support and understanding they have that allows me to be a single mom working full time,” Lopez said. “I think the leadership and unit support is what should be recognized, and it is important to me to recognize all the work that went into this award.”