AVIANO, Italy -- Staff Sgt. Crystal Pittman, Animal Care Specialist and noncommissioned officer in charge of the Aviano Veterinary Treatment Facility, Aviano, Italy, recently competed in the Italian Open National Weightlifting Championship and took home the second place title.

Pittman recorded a snatch of 83kg/183lbs and 97kg/213lbs to help her team, which placed 3rd for males and 2nd for females. A snatch involves lifting a barbell from the ground to overhead in one continuous motion.

Pittman, who joined the Army because she felt like she needed to do more with her life, said that being in the Army showed her that she could push herself through difficult tasks. Her newly discovered strength during physical training tests led her to pursue Olympic lifting.

"My hobby has given me the physical ability to be a good role model for my Soldiers and others outside of my organization," Pittman said. "Along with the physical ability, it has also given me the confidence and resilience do anything I put my mind to. Lifting has taught me that failure happens, but you learn and grow from it and that is what makes you a great leader."

As an Animal Care Specialist, Pittman provides medical support for Military Working Dogs, as well as privately owned animals in Aviano, Italy. Pittman also supervises six civilian employees and manages the day-to-day operations at the veterinary clinic. She says the job can be challenging from time to time, but it is also rewarding. She enjoys having a positive impact on the animals she cares for as well as humans she meets and works with.

Pittman says her days can easily become overwhelming and stressful when juggling appointments and ensuring tasks are complete, much like challenges of weight training.

"Olympic lifting is not just a physical sport, but a mental one too," she said. "You have good days and bad days -- just like in your day-to-day life. But my hobby has helped me tremendously by giving me the mental toughness and confidence to take on whatever comes at me."

Pittman said she often uses the strategies she learned through weightlifting in her work life too.

"Taking a deep breath and using mental agility to figure out what needs to be done first helps," she said. "The mental toughness helps me stay focused and prioritize to make sure the mission gets accomplished."

Pittman said her biggest motivation to push through and work harder is knowing she is getting stronger.

"I love feeling strong. As a little kid, I would watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and wish that I was strong like her."

She inspires her Soldiers by showing them that they can do anything they set their mind to.

"Don't underestimate yourself. You can achieve the goals you set for yourself if you work hard" Pittman said.