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Heroism takes many forms. For U.S. Air Force veteran Monique Wardrick, it came in the form of a small change with a big impact.

Wardrick (UMUC Class of 2016) joined the Air Force in 1991 and worked as a transportation entitlements counselor. Typically, the position involved briefing groups of airmen transitioning to another station or separating from the military on how to get their belongings from one place to another in often-complicated moves. Wardrick knew that what the airmen really needed wasn't a group briefing but individual attention to address their unique situations with tailored solutions.

Wardrick drew on her "passion for people, not just the job" and started fleshing out her ideas for improving her service to her fellow airmen. With encouragement from one of her superiors, Master Sergeant Bernadette Gosha, she drew up her initiative, and it was presented to Air Education and Training Command (AETC).

“What was wonderful was the openness to innovation and ideas that I encountered,” said Wardrick. “AETC said, ‘Let’s give it a trial and roll it out.’”

The results were as good as she expected.

“With every other challenge folks could have in completely rearranging their lives, they didn’t need to worry about getting their stuff moved,” said Wardrick. “The people felt they were getting a superior level of service.”

She often encountered younger military servicemembers and spouses who hadn't been through a PCS move before. It was in those day-to-day interactions that she felt her new individualized approach made the difference.

"It was often left to the spouse to handle movement of the household back at the origin base," Wardrick recalled. "Naturally, they were anxious about the process. I was able to make sure they were empowered with information on all of their entitlements such that they were able to proceed as 'project managers.’”        

The personal touch Wardrick brought to the process helped ease the stress on her fellow airmen during times of huge life changes.

“Wherever your work is, it’s about serving people,” Wardrick said. “It’s about how you can impact your people in a positive way.”