Citizen Airman completes doctorate, leaves mark on AFMAO

  • Published
  • By Christin Michaud
  • Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations

Tech. Sgt. Julaine Newell, a reservist with the 514th Force Support Squadron, Joint Base McGuire Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, recently completed her second and final deployment to Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations.

During her first deployment, Newell worked in the departures section, charged with assisting mortuary specialists in casketing fallen service members for transportation to their final resting place. Five years later, she’s returned to the mortuary mission but this time in the Command, Control and Communication section, where the team tracks the remains of fallen service members from location of death to final resting place.

Newell, who enlisted in the Reserve in 2015, said she joined the military to defend and contribute to the country that gave her parents, first generation Jamaican immigrants, an opportunity to become successful.

The Maryland native serves as the fitness noncommissioned officer in charge while in her reserve capacity in New Jersey, ensuring members are fit to fight.

In her civilian career, she helps service members be fit in a different way.

“I am a pain management registered nurse for Walter Reed National Medical Center,” said Newell. “I work with active duty, retired and dependents who have chronic pain.”

Newell completed her Bachelor of Science Degree in nursing in 2018 in a bachelor’s to doctoral program, which allowed her to continue her educational pursuit to earn a doctorate, which she completed prior to her deployment to AFMAO.

She continued to serve service members, but this time it was her fellow deployers.

“Anytime folks deploy away from home, especially if it is there first deployment, there are typically issues with being homesick and balancing home/deployed life,” said Eric Merryman, C3 manager.  “Tech. Sgt. Newell’s experience allowed her to identify some of our deployers in need and speak to them about some of what they were going through. The weight of our mission starts to hit after we have a few dignified transfers and her background certainly helped set our deployers at ease and work through their emotions.”

Her passion for helping others led her to pursue her Doctor of Nursing Practice. While at AFMAO, she also went on to complete her certification as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.

“I wanted to become a provider as a nurse practitioner with the opportunity to council and prescribe medicine to those who seek mental health,” said Newell. “I also wanted to be in a position where I could help change the negative stigma associated with mental health and counseling.”

The Citizen Airmen, used to working day shifts, adapted to an alternate schedule for the 24/7 operations center and said, although she didn’t choose swings, she found she enjoyed working from 4 p.m. to midnight.

She was no stranger to balancing a full-time job, part time job in the Reserve and schooling as well as the role of mentor, but also recognized the importance of having support.  

“I learned the meaning of self-care and support of friends and family,” Newell said.

Merryman said in addition to accomplishing the C3 mission in her time here, she encouraged other members to pursue higher education and professional military development.

Newell said her deployment experience supporting C3 was valuable.

“I have gained better patience, a better sense of balance, how to maintain focus and a better sense of personal perseverance,” said Newell.

As she ends her deployment, she’ll be making another career transition. She’ll be departing the services career field and will commission in the Reserve in the medical career field later this year.

Newell’s goal is to continue to make a difference in the lives of others.

“I hope to become a counselor for military members or for anyone dealing with anxiety, depression or PTSD,” said Newell.

While at AFMAO she left her mark on those around her.

“Tech. Sgt. Newell’s positive attitude was infectious, and I certainly appreciate all she contributed to AFMAO the organization and more importantly the people of AFMAO,” said Merryman. “She certainly will be missed and I look forward to calling her Lt. Newell very soon!”