By Michael Cameron –
Mighty Oaks Foundation is honored to announce the newest addition to our Board of Advisors, CMSgt Ericka E. Kelly. As Command Chief Master Sergeant of the USAF-R Chief Kelly represents the highest enlisted executive level of leadership in Air Force Reserve Command and advises the Commander on all issues regarding the readiness, training, welfare, morale, proper utilization and progress of more than 70,000 enlisted Active Duty and Reserve Citizen Airmen serving at more than 60 military bases worldwide!
The first and most striking thing you’ll notice when speaking with Chief Kelly is how humble she is; and after achieving such great success in her military career, she is driven by her desire to serve and she is rooted in her faith. During our conversation, she very generously shared the story of her early upbringing in Guatemala. Growing up, she realized very young it was her dream to join the U.S. Military, when she arrived in the U.S. at twelve years old, she said that she knew immediately that her calling was to serve in our armed forces.
She had several paths that she could have pursued once she enlisted, and ultimately decided that becoming a medic would be the best choice, as she had prior experience from her civilian life. She flew with Aeromedical Evacuation, which she describes as an ambulance in the sky, transporting injured service men and women, and even civilians, from the Middle East to Europe or even all the way back to the United States.
There were some early lessons of hardships learned in the line of duty, encountering gravely wounded and injured, but through this she witnessed the hand of God’s grace work miracles in front of her eyes, and she felt his guidance as he helped enable her squadron to transport over 10,000 injured in one year alone. She makes no secret of her passion to serve and is still inspired by the positive impact that she has seen first hand, and the joy she receives from allowing our Creator to do good works through her.
She like so many has been diagnosed with PTS(d), and after witnessing so much tragedy and hardship, she only regrets that she didn’t have more hands to help beyond her heroic efforts. It was difficult for her, after receiving her diagnosis, that she was unable to continue to perform her job as a medic, but when God closes one door he opens another, which has allowed her to make an even more significant impact through her leadership, and preparing the next generation and providing them with the tools to become leaders themselves.
This is one of the many reasons that God has lead her to expand her service into new arenas, and as she self-describes, her passion is the next generation. She has spoken and provided mentorship to many at-risk youth, who were straying from the path that the lord intends for us. She provided the perspective that no matter what circumstances you come from, we all still have a choice, that even she who was abandoned as a child at age five, could overcome extreme adversity to become such a highly decorated officer, and help so many in need along the path of her journey. She instills the values of a life lived through Christ, and that success doesn’t just arrive, it is the end result of many choices and much hard work over the years that isn’t evident to those who haven’t heard her personal testimony.
This same passion has brought her to Mighty Oaks Foundation, and given her story, it is divine providence that she has come to join our mission, to serve and restore our nation’s Warriors and families. We are excited to have her on our board, and look forward to many years of serving along side her, helping our veterans who have endured extreme hardships find a new life purpose through hope in Christ.