JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --
“She is the heart and soul of this operation,” said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Kevin White, 59th Medical Wing COVID-19 vaccine coordinator. “Master Sgt. Latanceia Godfrey is the first one here and she’s the one that gets the operation started every day.”
Godfrey, the 59th MDW COVID-19 vaccine clinic noncommissioned officer in charge, coordinates more than 30 Airmen and civilians for the COVID-19 vaccine operation daily.
Aside from assigning manpower and personnel she also works alongside the Airmen in the vaccine clinic. Being a leader to her means guiding, mentoring and protecting her Airmen.
“I have always prided myself in being there,” Godfrey said. “Being present in my Airmens’ lives, for my leadership and myself, with the main focus in mentoring and leading the way for others.”
Being a part of an operation that focuses on vaccinating patients against the virus can be both rewarding and challenging.
“One of the challenges I’ve had to face is turning people away,” Godfrey said. “That is one of the worst things I’ve had to do because we had to stay within the guidelines.”
Understanding the wait to be vaccinated may be challenging for patients. However, Godfrey handles conflict professionally and empathically while protecting her Airmen.
“When we first started administering vaccines, a patient had an appointment, he brought his wife with him, who was not eligible for the vaccine,” Godfrey said. “He wanted to see if he could get her a walk-in appointment, but couldn’t.”
The patient became agitated, but Godfrey handled the situation professionally and with empathy.
Godfrey is known for her professional and yet happy personality with everything she does.
“I try to handle conflict as professionally as I possibly can and with a smile,” Godfrey said. “I rarely have bad days. I say I have bad moments. I’ll take the brunt of conflict for everybody who’s working on my team and protect my Airmen.”
In the face of any challenge, Godfrey isn’t afraid or intimidated by anything.
“She’s fearless when it comes to communicating with a variety of people,” White said. “It’s something I greatly appreciate in a leader.”
Not only does Godfrey handle stressful situations professionally, but she doesn’t allow anything to weigh her down. People she works with ask her how she is always in a great mood. She makes everyone feel motived no matter how much she’s multitasking.
“Master Sgt. Godfrey makes me feel respected whenever I come into work by not just asking how I am in a cliché manner, but going into detail about why I feel that way and it deepens my respect for her along with my trust in her ability,” said Airman 1st Class Gabriel Poling, 59th Medical Support Squadron health administrator. “She also takes on more work to allow my co-workers and me to feel less stressed during busy times of the day. Then stays humble when she gets recognized for the work she is doing.”
Regardless of the challenges, Godfrey feels that she is offering hope to patients by helping them receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I had this guy, he could barely write his name,” Godfrey said. “He asked me to help fill out his paperwork. He was 102 years old. I said, ‘Oh wow, you know what sir, I think you’ve been the oldest patient I’ve had in here, so you’re going to be my VIP today.’ So I escorted him down to the vaccination room where I waited with him. As we made our way to the first floor he said, ‘I’m so glad I got this vaccine. I’m 102 years old and anything that I can do to get a couple more hours on this Earth is a win for me and I thank you so much for what you’re doing.’”
This level of patient care and attention to detail goes a long way. Godfrey’s unwavering dedication to the efforts of the COVID-19 vaccine clinic comes from personal experience with the deadly virus when earlier this year the pandemic hit too close to home for her.
“My mom contracted COVID-19 in January,” Godfrey said. “She is a two-time breast cancer survivor, so this is not her first rodeo of being sick. She got quarantined on her birthday and we made a joke about it, but then a few days later I got a phone call saying that she was admitted to the emergency room due to COVID-19 complications.”
Godfrey’s mother is doing better every day but still has health complications months later.
“To this day my mom is still walking around with an oxygen tank and she has to stay on this oxygen until she’s fully recovered,” said Godfrey.
Knowing how dangerous this virus is, Godfrey continues to volunteer because she can help others and her family.
“Being a part of this operation, for me, is to ensure no one else has to go through what my family went through,” Godfrey said. “If something happened to her, my world would never be the same again. I’m hoping by providing this vaccine to as many people as we can, that one day we will be able to return to the way things were or as close to it as possible.
"My youngest daughter told me that every day I go to work, I’m helping to save lives, making my heart swell. I feel like I’m truly helping to make a difference that impacts the world, how cool is that?”