The first person you meet when you walk into the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine (CU SDM) is Linda Perry. She’s the smiling face behind the first-floor information desk—and she’s the helpful voice when you call the main phone line too. “I genuinely love helping people,” she said. “That’s my thing.” She pondered for a moment, then added, “Maybe that’s why I joined the service.”
Staff Sergeant Perry is a 14-year veteran in the United States Air Force Reserve. She was a material handling equipment (MHE) instructor and supervisor to 15 Airmen. She would train them how to drive any vehicle—from small cars to trucks that held 60,000 pounds of cargo, to military aircraft for loading. She was the one who awarded military driver’s licenses to those who passed.
One of her favorite responsibilities has been performing as part of the color guard at football games and veteran parades. She was also trained by the Air Force Honor Guard to perform the 21-gun salute at military funerals, including some of her own family who were fellow service members.
“If I had to do it again, I would be right there ready to serve,” Perry said. “The military gave me some valuable skills, experiences and personal qualities that can be beneficial, and that I still use today.”
As supervisor to 15 Airmen, she learned how to lead by example, stay organized and disciplined, and solve problems using critical thinking. Perry said she often relies on these traits in her role at the CU SDM, along with resilience, stress management, cultural awareness and a strong work ethic.
When she noticed some patients were walking slowly into the dental building, she requested a wheelchair to have available at the front desk for anyone who might want it. “I try my best to go out of my way to help people,” she said. “I don’t even think about it; they need help, so I help.”
It’s no surprise Perry has been decorated several times for her service, including the Humanitarian Service Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal. The latter was earned in Florida when Perry directed a group of volunteers to hand out satellite radios, food and water to those in need after a devastating hurricane.
Perry’s supervisor Mac McAllister, MBA, said, “Linda’s passionate approach to her work and to the mission, vision and goals of the dental school is truly inspiring. We are grateful for her sacrifice and service as a veteran of the United States Air Force Reserve.”
“I love working here,” Perry said. “Every day is different, and getting to take care of our patients is so rewarding.”
United States Air Force Reserve Staff Sergeant Linda Perry, Administrative Assistant II