#SheDefends: Senior Airman Struhltrager

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Jennifer Zima
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

In the month of March, the world recognizes the contributions of women, remembering those who paved the way for future generations. The 501st Combat Support Wing is highlighting exemplary women who light the way for the Pathfinders around them.

Senior Airman Kayla Stuhltrager, 423rd Security Forces Squadron Charlie flight emergency control center controller, has been working at RAF Alconbury and RAF Molesworth protecting and defending. 


501st Public Affairs: Every Airman has a story, what’s yours? What motivated you to serve in the Air Force?

Stuhltrager: “My husband was prior Coast Guard and Army. He talked about how he’s seen the world traveling, and how there’s benefits. No one has been in the military except for my grandfather on my dad’s side. I was the first in my family to join… I was going to school for medical, but it got too expensive so I started looking at other options. The Air Force gave me that option of helping me pay for my school, financial stability and the benefits, that’s what sold me on the Air Force.

I chose security forces because that was the fastest to get in. When I got here, I found a new found love for law. I love the discipline and the people. This is not a career field that every woman will last in. It’s hard. You carry so much weight, and this is more of a male-dominated career field. You don’t want to be that person who’s lagging behind, you want to be on top of it. It takes a lot of endurance and it takes a lot of patience. This career field has been a lot harder, especially physically, but emotionally it’s been great. The people. I can’t say that enough.”


PA: How would you like to inspire younger generations of women?

Stuhltrager: “If a young female didn’t know what they wanted in life, I think the Air Force would be the best option because you can travel, attend college, have financial stability, the opportunity to live on your own.”


PA: What would you say to younger women?

Stuhltrager: “Life is hard, life is really hard. You get (asked), ‘What do you want to be? What do you want to do?’ …Live your dreams, pursue what you want to do, you’re not promised tomorrow. Live up to your full potential. Don’t feel like you have to be something that you don’t want to be, because life has too many options. Sometimes options are good, you don’t have to stay stagnant.”


PA: What are your future plans either within or beyond the military?

Stuhltrager: “At first I didn’t think this career field would be something for me, but I learned to love it. You walk around carrying 50-75 pounds of gear and go on crazy deployments. (Because of) the bond between me and my coworkers, working 12 to 14-hour shifts, I’ve met amazing people (and) I probably could do this for twenty years. I’m all for pursing whatever life throws at me, because opportunities are far and slim and when you get one you have to take one.”