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Behind the Wings: Colleague support on the home front

When Wilkes-Barre Scranton (AVP) Ramp Agent Carmen Alicea Cotto received the news that her husband was going to deploy to the Middle East for 14 months, she wanted to spend as much time with him as she could before he left. Carmen’s supervisor Mandy Evans and the AVP team rallied around her to provide shift coverage and support in the months leading up to his deployment. Mandy was nominated by Carmen for going above and beyond as an employer and was awarded the Patriot Award from the Pennsylvania National Guard.

The Patriot Award was presented to Mandy on behalf of the Department of Defense in recognition of her employer’s support of service members and their families while performing their obligation to our nation. “Mandy is very deserving on this award,” shares Carmen proudly. After working together for only six short months, Carmen appreciated Mandy’s willingness without being asked to go above and beyond to help get Carmen’s shifts covered.

“I have many friends and family who have served in the military and wanted to help Carmen any way I could,” shares Mandy. She had met Carmen’s husband and family and wanted to do her best to support them before and during the deployment. When the award arrived, Mandy was honored. “Words can’t describe how I felt. It was so unexpected. I would do it all again for Carmen and anyone in that situation.”

Carmen’s husband serves as a reservist in the Pennsylvania National Guard based in Harrisburg and as a civilian nurse at a Veteran’s hospital. “Staying behind while your husband deploys is difficult,” shares Carmen. “I don’t live on a military base, and we have no family here, so I felt very alone.” Carmen shares that before he left, they celebrated Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas in one night.

After Carmen spoke to Mandy in a casual conversation about her husband’s upcoming deployment, Mandy led the support effort to get Carmen’s full-time shifts covered so she could spend more time with her family. “Without my asking for help, Mandy took it upon herself to go above and beyond for me,” shares Carmen. “Mandy asked other team members if they were available to cover my shifts and if she couldn’t find anyone, she would cover them. Having my shifts covered also allowed for travel with my family before his deployment and attendance at pre-deployment meetings and gatherings.”

Not only did Mandy ensure coverage at work, but also offered an ear to listen. “Mandy was there to listen and continues to be a source of support to me and my family. Not only is she my supervisor, but she is my friend.” The two, along with another AVP colleague recently embarked on a 20-mile hike together in New Jersey and are planning to participate together in a 5K run on New Year’s Eve. Mandy has promised to keep Carmen busy while her husband is away.

Carmen shares the life of a military spouse is challenging where plans can change at the last moment and flexibility and open-mindedness are vital. While deployed, she won’t be able to speak with her husband regularly due to the nature of his assignment in addition to the time difference.

Carmen says Mandy is always asking how her husband is doing and if her family needs anything. “Our family may be in Puerto Rico, but we have gained new family here in AVP.”

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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. Throughout the month of November, Piedmont is proud to recognize our military veteran team members and their families who contribute to the success of the airline and make a difference in their communities.