Air Force & Army service prepped Tri-Cities veteran for career in healthcare

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – For Tony Wright, going into the military was an obvious path, and it has since prepared him for his role in helping keep Northeast Tennesseans safe and healthy.

“It taught me a lot about life,” Wright told News Channel 11. “Did a lot of growing up I think during that time.”

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When he was 21 years old, Wright joined the U.S. Air Force, following in his father’s footsteps. While in the Air Force, he worked as a mechanic and started his career in logistics.

After four years, some of which was spent in Germany, Wright took a break from active service. He enlisted in the Army National Guard in 1992.

Photo: Tony Wright joined the U.S. Air Force when he was 21 years old. (WJHL)
Photo: Tony Wright joined the U.S. Air Force when he was 21 years old. (WJHL)

“We worked on pretty much everything: trucks, tanks, pretty much anything and everything,” he said. “Trucks, tanks, any type of track vehicle, pretty much anything that tore up, they sent us out to fix.”

In 2004, Wright was deployed to Iraq for a year.

“It’s a lot rougher. You’re out in the middle of the desert and there’s nothing around you,” Wright said. “I guess you just had to lean on your buddies a lot more than you normally would because that’s all you had.”

Wright eventually retired as an E5 Sergeant in 2018 after working in logistics at the Army Reserve in Gray.

“Logistics is pretty much a supply-type job,” he said. “The side that I worked on was mainly parts for vehicles of stuff like that.”

His work in logistics helped prepare him for his next role: the regional healthcare coordinator at the Northeast Regional Health Office. Wright said his experience in moving items in the military was integral to his work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The logistics part of my military experience is what really helps me in this job,” he said. “During COVID, that was one of my responsibilities [was] to get the PPE in and different things and move that stuff around the region.”

In his current role, Wright also helps prepare the region for emergencies by working with local EMS agencies, hospitals and other entities. During the pandemic, Wright said being able to set up distribution of shots and equipment was vital to the region’s health.

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