ORLANDO, Florida– Being a part of the mission supporting the Community Vaccination Center at Valencia College – West Campus in Orlando has been an extraordinary event in her life.
U.S. Army Spc. Larissa Lynn Velez, a water treatment specialist assigned to the 626th Brigade Support Battalion, said the COVID-19 vaccination mission is a unique one.
“The mission is a different experience compared to other deployments,” said Velez. “We are able to see change and help out our own country during a hard time.”
Velez is always pleased to see that community members are more relaxed when they exit the observation tent.
“It’s good to see people’s faces after they get the shot. They feel more protected and seem hopeful for things to get better in the near future,” said Velez.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Alex Campbell, a distributed platoon leader assigned to 626th BSB, applauded Velez for her efforts.
“She is a hard worker, very good with people, and is adaptable to whatever task is given to her,” said Campbell.
Velez’s family has a long history of serving in the Army.
“I joined the Army because I wanted to have marketable job skills and to attain leadership skills like both of my grandparents who were prior Army veterans,” said Velez.
According to Velez, military service runs strong in her family.
“My family is extremely patriotic. They were very supportive of me joining the Army,” said Velez. “They thought it would be a good example for my younger brothers and a good starting foundation for me.”
Part of her own personal devotion to the country comes from an earlier assignment.
“My first unit experience was unique. I was stationed in Camp Humphreys, South Korea for a year and a half.” said Velez. “Throughout my time there I became the NCO in charge of the training room and played a huge roll in the company and at the Battalion level. It definitely taught me a lot of leadership skills and increased my knowledge on things other than my job in the Army.”
Part of Velez’s journey and aspiration in the Army is to obtain a college degree in something she is passionate about and is a viable source of income when she retires.
“I am working towards a degree as soon as I get back to Fort Campbell. I want to either be an Orthodontist or a Pediatric Nurse because I am very good with kids,” said Velez.
Her family bonds and training have kept Velez laser-focused and have proven why serving in the Army has been a great experience.
“My proudest moment since joining the Army was receiving a coin from the Brigade Commander for all of my hard work running the training room as a young, enlisted member,” said Velez. “It felt every good to know just how much I was doing, not only to help myself in the long run but to help everyone at the company, to include higher level leadership.”
U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing continued, flexible Department of Defense support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency as part of the whole-of-government response to COVID-19.