Through the ranks, medical commander faced challenges, rose to the occasion

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Mary O'Dell
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
She's had a busy and storied 26-year career -- from the University of Texas to the National Defense University; from the White House to the Office of the Surgeon General and now she serves the Fairchild community as the 92nd Medical Group commander and isn't looking back.

"I never imagined myself joining the military, having grown up in an era with the Vietnam War fresh in my mind," Schultze said. "It eventually seemed like a viable option, especially knowing the benefits that came along with it."

Her first assignment was at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., where she stayed for about eight years. Three of which were spent at and Air Evac squadron transporting patients on a C-9 Nightingale from base to base across the U.S. as needed for specialty care.

From Air Evac, she received an Air Force Institute of Technology-sponsored scholarship to attend school full time while getting her master's degree in emergency nursing from 1996 to 1998.

"We all hate for people to be severely injured, but those are the types of patients I like to take care of," Schultze said.

After assignments littered across the country and deployments in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, she set her sights high. She became interested with the White House in the late 1980s as a lieutenant when she noticed a photo of President George H.W. Bush standing with his staff of nurses in the Oval Office.

"Reading about it, I immediately thought, 'I want to do that,'" Schultze said. "Everywhere I went, when asked what my short- and long-term goals were, I would answer that I wanted to be a White House nurse."

While stationed at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, she received a phone call from her chief nurse informing her that the call had come down for White House nurses. Immediately putting her package together, she was thrilled at the opportunity.

Several months later, she flew to Washington, D.C., for an extensive interview. Along with several other candidates, she also met with the president's physician during a formal interview to compete for the position. By the evening of the same day, she received word she had been selected, and, by August 2000, she was on her way to the White House, living out her dreams.

Nurses partner with physicians providing healthcare to the president and vice president, along with their immediate families, 24/7, worldwide. They also advise the U.S. Attorney General if the president is unable to serve because of mental or physical challenges. It's their constitutional responsibility should the president become incompetent, unable or killed, to provide advice and counsel.

As a major, following her "dream assignment," she was given the opportunity to work as a clinical nurse specialist at Lackland AFB, Texas, at their level one trauma center. Having specialized as a trauma emergency nurse, this was right up her alley. The roles she would fill next were in the more administrative realm after pinning on lieutenant colonel.

Schultze was then selected to attend the Industrial College of the Armed Forces to pursue her senior professional military education, learning about resourcing the National Strategic Plan. She received her second master's degree specializing in resource strategy.

After her final year of schooling, she went on to become a squadron commander at Travis AFB, Calif., then found herself back where it all began, at Scott AFB. She served for eight months at the Air Mobility Command Surgeon General's office as the Command Nurse and Chief of the En Route Medical Care Division. Two months later, she received word she would be selected for a group command.

"I always said I'd stay until I wasn't having fun anymore," Schultze said. "I loved what I was doing; I kept getting great assignments and great missions. Part of me wants to retire and go live with my husband back in Texas, but the other part of me keeps saying, 'just two more years.'"

Schultze and her husband have been "geographic bachelors" since her permanent change of station to Germany in 1998. She reports for duty and serves her country traveling to every continent of the world, aside from Antarctica; meanwhile, he lives back home in Giddings, Texas, working as a principal at a local school.

"This is our normal," Schultze said. "We see each other frequently and talk on the phone every night. We have never been happy with the situation, but as strange as it seems we're okay with it for now."

In May 2013, Schultze arrived at Fairchild and began her command. After this assignment, she will be at 28 years' time in service.

"My advice is to take every opportunity you are offered," Schultze said. "I have faced incredible growth and challenge. I didn't want to go to all of my assignments, or be away from my husband, but I learned things I would never have been able to in any other place."