USAFA Downrange: Academy medic experiences life-changing moments

Airman 1st Class Sabrina Hibbens poses for a photograph with Afghani civilians while deployed in support of American special forces in western Afghanistan's Uruzgan and North Helmand provinces. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Airman 1st Class Sabrina Hibbens poses for a photograph with Afghani civilians while deployed in support of American special forces in western Afghanistan's Uruzgan and North Helmand provinces. (U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- An Academy medical technician with two years in the Air Force has found herself supporting U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan's western Uruzgan and North Helmand provinces. 

"I volunteered for this deployment," said Airman 1st Class Sabrina Hibbens, who is deployed from the 10th Medical Group here. "I always say that you can't just let things happen, sometimes you have to go out and do it yourself and make it happen, if you don't you won't experience as much as if you just ask. 

"Every day there is always something that changes someone's life," she said. 

One life-changing moment in particular was when a husband brought in his wife because she had an allergic reaction to a medicine given at the local downtown clinic," said the medical technician from Bass Lake, Calif. "He was a very religious man and was hesitant about bringing his wife to the Americans. We relieved the pressure from the reaction and he came shook my hand to thank me. That was a very eye-opening action to see a man come and shake the hand of a female." 

She lives, works and eats in a hard-structure building, and notices things about the world around her. 

"The biggest surprise is the culture," she said. "Afghanis work just to put bread on the table, (whereas) most Americans work to get the newest and hottest toys. The culture here is something that no one will forget. It makes me appreciate everything I have and that I am proud to be an American citizen." 

She stays in touch with her family in the United States by e-mail and Morale, Welfare and Recreation telephone calls. 

The deployment has its challenges, "like being away from my family and working with an interpreter," Airman Hibbens said. "It's also a challenge to understand Afghanistan's culture and how they are appreciative for anything and everything we give them." 

Observing the surrounding culture has made quite an impact on the medical technician. 

"Seeing how little some people have yet their spirits are never lessened, and seeing children, ages 5 to 10, working to support their families has changed my life."