Behind the Wings: Finding a passion for aviation in the military
Worker’s Compensation Administrator Anyeliz Perez was reluctant to join the military at first but after needing assistance to pay for college, she joined the Air Force National Guard (AFNG) and never looked back. Her current military experience as a reservist paired with her work experience at Piedmont are propelling her forward in her career. Being an active member of Piedmont’s Veterans/Military Employee Resource Group (ERG) furthers her goal to grow and connect with other military team members.
Originally from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Anyeliz moved with her mother to Fayetteville, North Carolina when she was five years old. She had always wanted to give back to her country and join the military. When her daughter turned two, she applied to the United States Air Force but was reluctant to join. “I was young and the thought of giving up my custodial rights scared me,” she shares. “I was a new mother and wasn’t sure it was the right time.” After pausing her decision to join the military and working in the banking industry, she decided to pursue a college degree. She completed two years of nursing school and worked as a medical assistant and practice director at a surgical practice. When the practice closed, she decided to seek part-time work while attending school.
Anyeliz had a friend who worked part-time for Piedmont who enjoyed the travel benefits as a part-time employee. Anyeliz thought it might be a good fit and the travel benefits would provide her a way to visit family in Puerto Rico. She joined Piedmont as a customer service agent in Fayetteville (FAY) in May 2016. While working part-time at Piedmont, Anyeliz knew she ultimately wanted to complete her degree and that the military’s tuition assistance could help her achieve this. With the encouragement of a close friend, she joined the Air Force National Guard (AFNG) as a reservist. “I felt like it was the right time,” she shared proudly. “I fell in love with the Air Force and everything aviation.” Anyeliz changed her college major from nursing to business and in 2020, she graduated from Fayetteville State University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
As an AFNG reservist, she says the difference between the jobs in the military and civilian careers is the uniform. Her current rank is Staff Sergeant and she works as an administrative manager. “The military offers the same careers that you can find as a civilian,” she shares. Anyeliz participates in drill one weekend a month and attends training for two weeks each year. When duty calls, she may be required to serve a tour for a longer period.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Anyeliz had arrived in the United Kingdom for a seven-month tour. She was originally going for training but when things got shut down due to COVID, she found herself doing multiple jobs while overseas including administrative, human resources and working in the post office processing mail. “This was my first overseas tour and being away from my daughter was stressful at first,” she shares. “With COVID travel restrictions, I couldn’t leave. Thankfully I had support from the AFNG to help me manage the unknown and cope with being away from home during this time. Despite COVID, the tour itself was an amazing experience and I would do it all over again.” She received the Air Force Achievement Medal for Meritorious Service after her tour.
While working in FAY, she found herself traveling each month to Charlotte for drill weekends. “I loved the city and decided to look for a position with Piedmont in Charlotte,” she says. “I felt like working in a hub would offer more opportunities to advance than working at a small station.” Anyeliz was promoted to her current role of Worker’s Compensation Administrator and moved to Charlotte in 2021.
“Both my careers at Piedmont and in the military are rewarding,” she says. “I have developed many skills and the military has helped me expand my knowledge in a variety of areas that has helped me excel in my civilian career.” She says the organizational skills she learned in the military help her in her current role.
Anyeliz loves working for Piedmont. When she worked in customer service, she enjoyed interacting with customers and the adrenaline of constantly being on the go. With Worker’s Compensation, she said it may be a different environment but still very busy and fast-paced. She communicates with all levels of management, pulls video footage for review, and enhanced a Worker’s Compensation packet for managers suited for all stations.
After joining the Piedmont team in CLT, she joined three ERGs, Professional Women in Aviation, Veterans/Military and the Latin Diversity Network. “I was new to the city and wanted to meet and connect with new people and learn about volunteer opportunities available through the ERGs.” Since joining the ERGs, she has met new team members from all over the company and looks forward to participating in future ERG initiatives.
Anyeliz is starting her master’s degree program in Business Analytics. When she isn’t studying or working, she enjoys working out, spending time with her daughter and doing family-friendly activities with her friend group. She uses her company travel benefits to visit family in Puerto Rico.
Thank you, Anyeliz for your military service!
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Behind the Wings is a Piedmont feature that highlights the accomplishments of the aviation professionals who make us Piedmont Proud inside and outside the airport. Piedmont is proud to recognize our Veteran team members and their contributions to the success of the airline and making a difference in their communities.