In Her Own Words: An Airman in the Georgia Air National Guard Reflects on Her Career During Women’s History Month

By Staff Sgt. Josiah Meece

During this Women’s History Month, a time when we celebrate the legacy of all the incredible women who have served our nation in all aspects, including the U.S. military, we wish to recognize some of the outstanding women in their career fields, such as U.S. Air Force Maj. Akilah Ford with the 116th Medical Group.

Akilah began her career in the Air National Guard while she was at Armstrong State College in Savannah, Georgia, where she entered the recruiter’s office and began to learn about what the branch had to offer, taking interest in the tuition assistance provided, as she was still a student. She enlisted into the Air National Guard as a 41A, a medical administrator.

“I love helping people,” said Akilah. “The camaraderie amongst my peers and the way we help each other out, how we help others in the Guard, taking care of each other, it has become a little family for me. The work is rewarding.”

U.S. Air Force Maj. Akilah Ford, a medical administrator with the 116th Medical Group, stands in the immunization lab. | Photo credit DVIDS/ Staff Sgt. Josiah Meece

As it currently stands, women make up around 30% of the Air National Guard, and have made incredible accomplishments over the years. Akilah herself reflected on what Women’s History Month meant to her, highlighting progression as a key aspect.

“We have progressed a lot over the years,” said Akilah. “In general we now have women holding leadership positions which twenty or thirty years ago you would not have seen holding those roles.”

Akilah expressed her admiration for key women in leadership roles both in and out of the military, such as Command Chief Master Sgt. Lynda Washington, the first female African American command chief for the Georgia Air National Guard, and key public figures such as Michelle Obama and Ruth Bader Ginsberg for their tenacity, their efforts striving for equality and the many advancements they made during their tenure. She also highlighted several key women she had worked with during her career.

Including Lynda Washington, Akilah had worked alongside Air Force Brig. Gen. Amy Holbeck, the current chief of staff for the Georgia Air National Guard, and Lt. Col. Ileana O'Shea, commander of the 165th Logistics Readiness Squadron. She celebrated the achievements these and other women have made, and voiced her hopes that there will be more to come.

“Our voices can be heard,“ said Akilah. "We offer a lot to the military, and I think we can be offered even more opportunities than what we have now. Definitely having the skill set, the education and the tenacity because it is not easy in this role, but if you really put your mind to it, you can definitely do it and get the job done. You have to be strong.”

For women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, legacy is what they leave behind. So when asked about what kind of legacy she wished to leave behind, Akilah emphasized the importance of not letting adversity get in the way of your dreams.

“I do think I have blazed a path for young women, to be able to look up to, so if I had to think about my legacy it’s ‘don’t let anything stop you…’ shared Akilah. "Adversity is out there, but there’s nothing you can’t overcome.”

Regardless of any challenges that she may have endured in the past while being a member of the Air National Guard, Akilah said her career has been an amazing part of her life, and that she wouldn’t change anything about it.

I love my Air Guard family,” Akilah said. “I’ve learned a lot, and in 27 years of my career, I’ve worked with some amazing people … It’s been an amazing ride, it’s been an amazing experience and if I had to do it all over again, I would do it the exact same way.”

-This story was originally published on It has been edited for

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