Women Leading Women: Master Sgt. Jessica Abad

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brian Lummus
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

Master Sgt. Jessica Abad joined the U.S. Air Force 17 years ago as an airborne cryptologic language analyst. At that time, women occupied 14.4% of the Air Force and an even smaller percentage contributed to the population of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance warriors.

Abad joined the Air Force to provide a stable life for herself and her family, the Air Force offered her the opportunity she needed to reach this goal. However, after completing basic military training and technical training, beginning to work in an operational environment proved more difficult than she originally believed. 

Throughout her career, Abad faced barriers on several occasions that made being a woman in the military difficult for her. One such barrier was that Abad felt that she was treated differently from her male coworkers because she was a woman. This barrier resulted in Abad feeling isolated and stuck while serving in a predominately male career field, pushing her towards the option of not re-enlisting.

Eventually, then, Tech. Sgt. Breana Reyes became Abad’s supervisor.  Reyes’s candid attitude and unwillingness to be treated differently than her peers resonated a lot with Abad. Reyes was the first supervisor that Abad felt cared for her and tried to lead her, unlike so many others at the time.

“She gave a crap about me like she was the first person to try to actually be a leader and to take care of me,” stated Abad. “People weren't treating me so great, but she stuck by me and she protected me when I needed it.”

Now, Chief Master Sgt. Breana (Reyes) Oliver was the first leader who showed Abad that she wasn’t the only female in the ISR career field. Seeing the way Oliver led, made Abad start to pay more attention to how people were leading their troops and made her want to lead others with the same positive impact that Oliver had. 

Despite the challenges and hardships that Abad faced as a junior airman, she seeks to emulate the example that was given to her by Oliver and wishes to be a good leader and example for Airmen now, especially young female Airmen who are looking to her for leadership.

“I want to be that person for them if I can, and I want to be able to help them see the best in themselves,” said Abad.

Abad is now the Torch Athena Lead at Goodfellow Air Force Base, and she does what she can to support women and men in the military. Torch Athena is a women lead program that aims to change policies that negatively affect women and men alike across Air Education and Training Command. Abad will be helping with the planning of the 2024 Torch Athena Rally in San Antonio on Aug. 26-27, 2024.

“We’re working on not only educating in regards to women’s issues, but we also have established lines of effort that we are trying to fix here on base to help both women and men in certain needs,” explained Abad. “We are identifying those barriers to success, training, and even staying in the military that maybe was not previously identified by leadership, and then we're aiming to try to create an argument of why they need to be changed or why they need to be fixed.”

During her career, she has noticed several barriers, and she wants everyone, especially young female airmen, to know that there is a place where they can stand up and make changes if they need to.

“If the reason you're getting out is because there's something around you that you don't like, then change it,” advised Abad. “If you don't make the effort to change it, it's never going to change.”