Wing Career Counselor Credits Mother, Other Mentors During Women’s History Month

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Andrew Enriquez
  • District of Columbia Air National Guard

Like many people serving in the reserve components of the United States military, service in the Air National Guard started as a balancing act between civilian and military roles for Tech. Sgt. Vicky McNamara.

In her senior year at Virginia Commonwealth University, McNamara learned more about the National Guard after her best friend enlisted in the Army National Guard, and eventually she decided to join the 113th Wing, District of Columbia Air National Guard.

“A couple months after I graduated, I went off to boot camp,” McNamara recalled. “When I came back, I became a preschool teacher at a local YMCA.”

The dissimilarity between her military and civilian career paths required some adjustment at first, she said. “I taught four and five year olds, so I was teaching preschool during the week. On drill weekends, I was working on F-16s on the flightline and in the fueling shop with the maintenance squadron. It was the total opposite of what I was doing during the week, but it was a really great experience. It kind of made me ‘cool’ to come back and tell my kids that I had worked on jets that weekend. They were pretty impressed by that.”

McNamara now works full time at the Wing as the career counseling non-commissioned officer in charge and credits opportunities within the Air Guard for who she is today.

“My advice is to just do it – to really challenge yourself – even if it scares you,” McNamara said. “When I graduated from Air Force Basic Military Training, it was one of the proudest moments of my life.”

McNamara acknowledges that growing within a career field requires not only the courage to start, but also the ability to adapt.

“I came back from tech school with my hair and nails done and a clean uniform, and I showed up in the maintenance squadron,” she said. “That’s not exactly what they see every day. But I didn’t want those differences to be a reason why I wasn’t going to be out there working hard with them.”

In addition to the mentorship and fellowship of her colleagues, McNamara credits her success and perspective to women who have inspired and innovated before her, especially her mother. 

“I’ve always looked up to my mom,” she says. “I’m the oldest of five and she’s always pushed us and encouraged us to do whatever it is we wanted to do. Having that kind of attitude with five kids and all the craziness that brings is something I try to emulate within my life.”

To be a role model to others, McNamara stresses she hopes to set an example of what can be achieved through courage and teamwork. The formula for that is simple: “It’s about really encouraging each other to do great things.”