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Faces of Westover: Master Sgt. Amy Edson

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Amy Edson, a 439th Operarations Support Squadron aviation resource manager, shows off her personal protective gear before seeing a patient. Edson works as a respiratory therapist at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Health Alliance Hospital for her civilian job. (Courtesy Photo)

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. --

Thousands of medical personnel and U.S. troops have stepped up to battle the coronavirus pandemic. While some travel to the virus’ epicenters, others fight it closer to home.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Amy Edson, a respiratory therapist, has spent her entire 15-year Reserve military career at Westover as an aviation resource manager in the 439th Operations Support Squadron.

“I always knew I wanted to be in the military,” said Edson. “Even in high school. A friend of mine and I joined together. We knew we were going to be in the Reserve at Westover and joining the Air Force together made the decision easy.”

On the civilian side, Edson chose a career in respiratory therapy because the flexible schedule helped her balance work and family life. For the past six years, she has worked at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Health Alliance Hospital.

“It’s such an exciting job,” she said. “I get to see and do so many different things. We run all the ventilators and anything that has to do with breathing, we’re in charge of. Sometimes it’s sad, but being in the medical field is exciting.”

COVID-19 significantly impacted the flexible work schedule that drew her to respiratory therapy.

“I usually work 32 hours a week, but have been working 50, so that’s a big difference for me,” she said. “We also have to treat all patients who come to the hospital as a possible COVID patient, so we wear all the PPE, which takes extra time between patients.”

Her civilian job now demands more of her time, but the flexibility virtual drill weekends offer ensures she can still complete military duty.

“It’s been easier because everything has been virtual,” said Edson. “For the virtual drills, even if I get called into work, I can still do military work in between patients. I’m thankful that the hospital has been very supportive of that.”

In addition to impacting her civilian and military careers, COVID-19 has also impacted her home life.

“Thankfully my husband hasn’t had to be working, so he can take care of and school our three daughters,” she said. “The adjustments have been a challenge for us, like most families during this time.”

Edson plans to stay in the Air Force Reserve despite the various personal and professional challenges.

“I continue to serve because I’m proud,” she said. “I’m proud to say that I’m in the Air Force. I’m really not ready to not wear the uniform.”

The friend who joined with Edson left the military, but comradery reinforces Edson’s decision to remain.

“The friendships that you make, the comradery is really what keeps me in,” she said. “The people I’m around and how well we work together- how close we’ve become. OSS is such a good squadron. We are all really close. We’re like a family.