Retraining through recovery

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Trenten Walters
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

Airman 1st Class Poodthaneth Saengkhamphong, 336th Training Squadron student, was approximately three weeks into his technical training for Client Systems Operations when his plans came to a halt.

Saengkhamphong was injured in an accident, causing him to be rushed to the emergency room at a local hospital where he stayed in inpatient care for three weeks.

After he was released from the hospital, Saengkhamphong was mentally ready to return to technical training at Keesler, but still needed physical assistance to move. He stayed at Keesler’s Fisher House, a home away from home for families and patients of the Keesler Medical Center and local hospitals, for three more weeks in recovery.

“Thanks to my first sergeant who was heavily involved, the Air Force brought my family here to help take care of me because I wasn't independent at that point,” said Saengkhamphong.

After Saengkhamphong’s stay at the Fisher House, he spent the rest of his time recovering in Sacramento, California.

In April 2023, Saengkhamphong entered the Pathfinder Program, which preserves talent by placing students within the Knowledge Operations course and provides additional opportunities to stay within a cyber AFSC. Saengkhamphong began computer based training for the Knowledge Operations course and continued his technical training, remotely.

Despite not receiving typical classroom experiences, Saengkhamphong felt he gained substantially more knowledge by getting to meet different people that he wouldn't have had the chance to if he was in a traditional classroom.

“I ended up completing my training for Knowledge Operations through distance learning,” said Saengkhamphong. “I was given the course material and was able to contact the instructors if I had any questions. In some of the courses I was even able to have one-on-one lectures with the instructor.”

From the time of the accident to graduating the Knowledge Operation course, Saengkhamphong's journey lasted six months. It all came full circle for him when he attended his graduation ceremony in-person on June 5 here.

“I was surprised when I met A1C Saengkhamphong in person, but after hearing his story and working with him for several weeks, his pleasant and quiet disposition was heartwarming; after surviving his suffering,” said Ashley-Williams Lavette, 336th TRS Knowledge Operations instructor. “His diligence as he was recovering from a serious injury while maintaining his focus to complete the course would inspire anyone who heard about his journey. His resilience was a key factor in staying on task even when he experienced medical setbacks. If how he overcame this is any indication of what he will achieve in his career, he will be unstoppable.”