HomeNewsArticle Display

SAIGE Military Meritorious Service Award winner fosters resilience, culture

U.S. Air Force Maj. Tanya Mooneyham, 81st Medical Group Intensive Care Unit element leader, poses for a photo inside Keesler Medical Center on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, July 15, 2019. Mooneyham received the 2019 Society of American Indian Government Employees Military Meritorious Service Award for her dedicated work in her community while supporting the Defense Department mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Suzie Plotnikov)

Maj. Tanya Mooneyham, 81st Medical Group Iintensive Ccare Uunit element leader, poses for a photo inside Keesler Medical Center on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi., July 15, 2019. Mooneyham received the 2019 Society of American Indian Government Employees Military Meritorious Service Award for her dedicated work in her community while supporting the Defense Department mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Suzie Plotnikov)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) --

Maj. Tanya Mooneyham, 81st Medical Group Intensive Care Unit element leader, belongs to a group that comprises only 2% of the U.S. population and an even smaller percentage in the military.

Mooneyham is proud of her Native American heritage which taught her resilience and enabled her to win the 2019 Society of American Indian Government Employees Military Meritorious Service Award for her dedicated work in her community as well as supporting the Defense Department mission.

“I was very surprised,” Mooneyham said. “I didn’t see myself getting an award for what I was doing.”

Maj. Roger West, 81st MDG ICU flight commander, thought the opposite. When West received an email informing him of the award, he instantly thought of Mooneyham and encouraged her to submit her package.

“I thought she was a great candidate,” West said. “I know she has done a lot of work back home with her family.”

Mooneyham’s family lives on a reservation in New Mexico where her grandmother has a big property. and fFor the last four years, Mooneyham and her family have visited for two weeks every summer to help the community.

“We call it Reservation Festival,” Mooneyham said. “It’s open to anybody who wants to hang out for a week, camp and clean the area. We don’t necessarily just hang out but we also incorporate our Navajo culture in our youth and try to teach them things we grew up with.”

Mooneyham mentioned growing up in her community, the elders often assigned tasks for the children to complete, which taught her how to obey orders.

“A lot of elders back home didn’t allow laziness within the kids,” Mooneyham said. “Learning to obey was something that I knew how to do so joining the military was like, ‘oOk what do you want me to do next?’”

Mooneyham said she’s grateful for growing up the way she did because it taught her how to be resilient no matter the circumstance.

“I grew up in a reservation where there was a lot of poverty,” Mooneyham said. “You don’t realize how much poverty there is because you’re living in it and that’s the only thing you know. I feel like if you can bounce back from what you learn and what you live through on a reservation, you can go through life in the military.”

For this reason, Mooneyham not only goes back every year not only to help her community, but also instill her culture in her family.

“Although we are removed from there (the reservation), we still carry it within us and want our youth to know that too,” Mooneyham said. “We always try to figure out what needs to get done whether it’s picking up trash, cleaning up areas or being involved with the community Chapter House.”

The Chapter House is where elders of the community get together to see what people need. During Mooneyham’s time at the reservation, hershe and her family would see if people needed water, wood hauled or any other basic needs.

“We try and go back there and just help out,” Mooneyham said. “In doing all that, you don’t realize how much you’re doing, you’re just doing it because that’s what you should do in my opinion: give back to your roots.”

Mooneyham said she didn’t expect to win the award and even though it was an individual award, it was anything but that for her.

“This isn’t just my award,” Mooneyham said. “This is our award and what we’ve done together through our unity and being able to come together every year to bring our culture to life and giving back to the community. That’s what I see when I look at this award.”

Engage

Twitter
RT @DefenseOne: JOIN US TODAY @ 2 P.M. ET when our “State of Defense” series continues with a live interview featuring U.S. Air Force Chief…
Twitter
RT @DeptofDefense: Teaching service members how to effectively shoot weapons. That’s the job of Combat Arms Training and Management. Watch…
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: Team - 25 years ago today, we lost 24 U.S. & Canadian Airmen in the Yukla 27 crash. It was a surveillance training so…
Twitter
Taking care of Airmen and their families! https://t.co/AVeidzDPcV
Twitter
Wherever Airmen go, the Federal Voting Assistance Program ensures their voice is heard. @FVAP works to ensure servi… https://t.co/tkJts1yo3Z
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: For #HispanicHeritageMonth, we're celebrating the stories of Hispanic & Latino Airmen! @188thWG SSgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez…
Twitter
#TotalForce Airmen participate in night operations during a base-wide, total force exercise @HAFB. Airmen & pilots… https://t.co/kJYNKwHY7n
Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: California fires/smoke no match for UTA Airmen - https://t.co/pJysQ6snRh (Story by the @940Wing) #ReserveReady #ReserveRes
Twitter
Whistleblowers are NOT insider threats. Learn the difference and how you can appropriately report questionable gove… https://t.co/AaTvBfHcTv
Twitter
SrA Denise Arabie, 319th Operations Support Squadron radar approach controller @319thRW, describes the importance o… https://t.co/zkwMx6Qw3i
Twitter
RT @173rdFW: "I may have lost everything, but thanks to the support we’ve found here, I’m going to be back on my feet inside of a few weeks…
Twitter
.@GenCQBrownJr & @cmsaf_official sat down and discussed how the Air Force will continue exempting Airmen from PT t… https://t.co/bWVig9fSOW
Twitter
SrA Mark Gonzalez describes how his job enables the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber to support the Bomber Task Force depl… https://t.co/sceKCtM3Pz
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: Our Airmen come from all walks of life — and we are stronger for it. Staff Sgt. Kalinin, 56th Force Support Squadron ALS…
Twitter
“It's critical to have that diversity in the Air Force that we have today because it is truly through that diversit… https://t.co/RIDQDjdlCr
Twitter
F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron @EielsonAirForce takeoff in support of exercise Valia… https://t.co/cf0raGgEUD
Twitter
RT @USAF_ACC: "This test, and others like it, can shape the future of the MQ-9, as we continue to increase its relevance in great power com…
Twitter
"We cannot rest on our laurels. It is all about the people, folks, and they will guarantee our readiness, and are f… https://t.co/BsNDUSw0wE
Twitter
RT @USAFCENT: USAFCENT Airmen and coalition partners are executing missions of national, regional and global importance and Exercise Desert…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,281,142
Follow Us