***image1***Being in charge of Soldiers is tough enough, but doing it as an Airman can test the mettle of even the most professional person. One Air Force sergeant, however, is making it look easy.
Staff Sgt. Guanina Palermo, NCOIC of the U.S. Army Health Clinic, Kaiserslautern Pharmacy, stepped in to the position September of last year and became the first Airman to work at an outlying Army clinic in Europe.
“I started out totally getting picked on,” said Sergeant Palermo. “People would think that I had too much jewelry on and get ready to say something to me and then realize I was Air Force and say, ‘Oh, okay.’”
But the way she tackles her work made those initial rush judgments go away, replaced instead with new-found respect for Air Force colleagues.
“It has been challenging to fit in,” she said. “They thought the Air Force was soft. But at the same time, they saw how I worked and they took to it. I think they have a different outlook on the Air Force now.”
Sergeant Palermo, who originally worked at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, got this opportunity when KHC was about to lose its pharmacy technician. USAHC Commander Maj. Hugh McLean said he called LRMC’s Pharmacy and asked for its best technician. Its best was Air Force.
“Branch of service doesn’t matter to me,” said Major McLean. “I want who will do the best job. I am proud to have her.”
The difference in service has yet to hinder her performance in an Army environment where she is required to lead. She writes monthly counselings, does Army physical training and from time to time participates in sergeant’s time training – something she is not required to attend.
“I can’t sit here and tell you to do something if I’m not willing to do it myself,” she said.
In addition to her required duties, she trains Soldiers for competitions, volunteers frequently and bakes cakes for her coworkers’ birthdays.
“She trained our Army specialist who took second in the Soldier of the quarter board,” said Major McLean. “Now think about that – Air Force training the Army. What it does is speak volumes about Army and Air Force integration.”
All of this Army training has had a positive impact on both the young sergeant’s attitude and physical conditioning. She has gone from barely passing her Air Force physical fitness test to scoring excellent. And to the next batch of Airmen she supervises, well, she may be a little more hardcore with them.
“I think that I will end up being harder to a certain degree on the Airmen under me,” she said. “I use every experience I have to learn something new and grow. This has been an awesome experience.”