BARKSDALE AFB, La. (KSLA) — Before you end up in a dental chair in the Barksdale Air Force Base dental clinic, you have to see Staff Sgt. Latasha Andrew.
“We have 5,300 active-duty personnel here," she says. "I make sure that everybody comes in on time to get their dental exams and treatments done.”
Andrew is a dental technician on the base. But inside the dental clinic, her official title is the Air Force Dental Readiness Assurance Program monitor.
“That’s a mouthful,” she said.
While she’s quite the character, she takes her job very seriously.
“Most times you don’t have dentists out in the field," she said. "You may have a medical doctor, but you don’t have an actual dentist. So just imagine having someone down range having a tooth emergency and then having to come back.
“So I think most members don’t get that portion of it,” Andrew continued. "But this is where we come in just to make sure we’re educating members. Or if I have to harass them or call them all the time, I will.”
Andrew recently celebrated four years in the Air Force.
She never imagined her life in the small Caribbean island of Dominica would lead her here.
“I knew nothing about the Air Force. We don’t have a military. We’re an independent state.”
Eventually, her husband soon led her to the United States.
“We’re from the same island," she said. "He moved here as a kid, and then he was home on vacation. We met through a mutual friend.
"He was in the Air Force, so we did long distance for about a year and a half and then I moved to the United States.”
He also had a hand in getting her into the Air Force.
“He was a recruiter for the Air Force at that time," Andrew said. “And then he recruited me, and so he was my recruiter and this is how I joined the Air Force.”
And while her path here isn’t like most, she’s grateful the Air Force has allowed her to do something she loves every day.
“You know your teeth. You have one set," she said. "We all have to smile.
"So I love the fact that we can take care of members and we can make sure, you know, military members are taken care of.”
Andrew said she plans to attend dental school so she can one day become a dental officer.