FORT WAYNE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ind. – Finding opportunities to serve can fill the need to be a part of something bigger. One Indiana National Guard member used her civilian training to help fill the needs of the military and a void in her heart.
U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Amanda J. Barton, a drill status Guard member serving as a critical care air transport team nurse with the 122nd Fighter Wing Medical Group, led training for medical members of the Forcees Armees Nigerienne during an Indiana National Guard State Partnership Program mission June 17-24 in Niamey, Niger. Indiana and Niger have been partners under the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program since 2017.
“Before this deployment, I was only vaguely aware of the State Partnership Program,” said Barton. “I was selected to attend this mission just 11 days prior to departure. I spent the next 11 days completing training, getting vaccinations and medications and reading every document I could find regarding Niamey, Niger, and the State Partnership Program.”
Barton, a medical-surgical intensive care unit nurse with Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, immediately went to work preparing for a future five-bed ICU.
“Upon arrival to the Role 2 medical facility, we unpacked and checked the new equipment that had been recently donated and delivered,” said Barton.” Over the next four days, we conducted eight training sessions for 23 Forcees Armees Nigerienne members. Didactic and hands-on instruction demonstrated the importance, functionality, practicality and safety of each piece of equipment.”
Although Barton is new to the military, having completed Officer Training School Aug. 6, just seven weeks after she turned 40, she has been a part of the 122FW Blacksnake family for over 17 years. Barton is well aware of the sacrifices it takes to be a part of the 122FW.
“Before joining myself, as a wife, I had already been through basic training, tech school, border patrol, many temporary duty assignments and multiple deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, all while going through nursing school and caring for our two children,” said Barton. “Deciding to be a part of the 122FW was like being at home. The 122nd is like a family. We have laughed and cried together, celebrated marriages, births and promotions, and also grieved losses. It was never a choice for me; the 122nd was where I belonged.”
Barton has been married to her high school sweetheart, Master Sgt. Derek T. Barton, noncommissioned officer, 122FW Maintenance Operation Control Center, for 21 years. They have two children, Cody and Corynn. Barton is also the granddaughter of retired Chief Master Sgt. Harry K. Swing, also from the 122FW MOCC.
“Growing up the granddaughter of an Airman and a great-granddaughter of a career firefighter, service is in my blood,” said Barton. “I’ve loved my role as a bedside nurse and I love my Lutheran family, but I always felt that there was more that I could offer of myself and my nursing experience. I expressed this to my husband and he was always supportive as I searched for something that could help fill this void in my heart.”