ANG’s Outstanding Airman of the Year: Staff Sgt. Lacey K. Miller

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --

Staff Sgt. Lacey K. Miller, a logistics materiel manager for the 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron, Florida Air National Guard, was chosen as the Air National Guard’s 2016 Outstanding Airman of the Year.

Miller competed for the honor against other junior enlisted Guard Airmen from across the 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.

“I’m still having a hard time realizing that I won Outstanding Airman for the Guard,” said Miller. “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to be in this place in life. This opportunity has allowed me to see that the strength you have is endless if you really believe in who you are and the things you stand for.”

Miller has seen an outpouring of support from Airmen in her squadron, who celebrate her achievement alongside her.

“I can absolutely say that there’s no way I did this on my own,” Miller said. “This achievement is a great reflection on my unit, my family and my faith. Having all these awesome people in my life has been a reason why I’m able to do all the things I am. Everyone at my unit is genuinely proud of me, and that just makes me feel they’re really here for me and support me.”

Miller has no shortage of mentors in her squadron, but she credits her supervisor, Master Sgt. Michelle Ellsworth for clearing roadblocks from her path and inspiring her to succeed.

“At work, Master Sgt. Ellsworth has been my mentor, motivator, friend and pretty much everything for me since I’ve joined the unit,” Miller said. “She has pushed me to make myself better and step out of my box. She’s been a complete blessing and I don’t know what I’d have done without her. But my parents have been my biggest supporters. They encouraged me to take on all these challenges, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their guidance.”

Miller’s military career began when she joined the Air Force Reserve after high school. When her college plans changed and she returned home to Florida, a friend recommended the Air National Guard.

“After only 18 months or so of being at the 290th, I deployed to Afghanistan,” she said. “I didn’t realize it would be so soon after getting to my unit. Even though I knew my job, there were a lot of unknowns of what I was getting myself into, but I felt that because I had good leadership, I knew they’d be there to back me up if there was a problem.”

Miller’s performance in her deployed role truly showcases her ability, and the passion she brings to whatever job she’s tasked to accomplish. As a senior airman, she was responsible for oversight of $15 million worth of critical joint communications assets, as well as keeping nine forward operating bases supplied with support equipment – a job normally filled by a technical sergeant.

“I’ve had great support from my unit; they motivated me to go out and be capable to succeed,” Miller said. “When I deployed, the job I was filling was two pay grades above me, and I was afraid that I wasn’t going to succeed. It was a great experience though. I don’t have anything bad at all to say about it.”

When not drilling at the 290th, Miller is a full-time student at the University of Florida pursuing a degree in forestry resources and conservation.

“I’ve always loved being outside in nature,” she said. “Hiking, camping, canoeing – things like that. We took a family trip to the Great Smoky Mountains a few years ago, and it inspired me to read about what the park rangers and researchers there were doing. It sounded like an awesome job, and I’d love to do that.”

Travel is a favorite activity for Miller and her family. In recent years, she’s been all across the United States, as well as a number of places in Southeast Asia and Scandinavia.

“My grandparents took me to Scotland when I graduated high school, and that kicked off my love for traveling,” said Miller. “My uncle pushed me further. He lives in Thailand and he’s huge into traveling too. So, since I’ve joined the military I’ve been able to save my money – I didn’t spend it on new cars or other material items. My brother, my cousin and I all decided to go see new places instead.”

Since her promotion to staff sergeant in January, Miller is now applying the lessons she’s learned from the mentoring she received as she steps into the role of an NCO.

“Now that I’m in more of a leadership role – especially when I deployed – that mentoring has helped me to be where I am now, able to work one-to-one with someone,” Miller explained. “We have a new Airman in our unit, and I’m trying to be that positive, uplifting person and help gear her in the right direction – all those things that Master Sgt. Ellsworth taught me.”

Leading by example and serving as the epitome of excellence is precisely what an NCO is expected to do, and Staff Sgt. Miller is clearly up to the task. For her outstanding support of the joint warfight and her willingness to tackle new challenges, the Air National Guard is proud to name her as our Outstanding Airman of the Year.