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Neighbors in the News

West Hempstead resident nominated colleague to be a soldier for a day


When West Hempstead resident Mick Villota, Cath Lab Unit support associate at NYU Winthrop Hospital, told his supervisor, Gina Berrent to expect a call from his sergeant, Berrent expected it to be about scheduling for his required training as a member of the Army National Guard. But to Berrent’s surprise, the call was to inform her she was one of only 22 individuals from New York state selected for a one-day “boss lift” to the New York National Guard’s Camp Smith Training Site in Peekskill, N.Y.

Boss lift involves a special helicopter ride, a tour of the New York Army National Guard’s newest maintenance facility, and a unique opportunity to take part in training just like the soldiers. Villota — who is most appreciative of Berrent’s understanding and flexibility when it comes to fulfilling his military obligations and training — wrote a letter nominating Berrent for the opportunity. Her nomination was among hundreds the New York National Guard received, and one of the select few chosen.

Berrent, along with 10 other selected individuals from Long Island, boarded a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter out of MacArthur airport on Sept. 16 for what would prove to be the experience of a lifetime.

As a participant in both simulation and real-life training, Berrent fully immersed herself in the activities of the day. She got to fire M-4s and M-9s at digital targets on standard U.S. Army qualification courses, and the “Range-In-A-Box” simulator, which involved a closed combat environment where Berrent had the opportunity to shoot at physical targets with soft pellet ammunition.

The end of the day proved to be another memorable highlight as the helicopter ride took a spin around the Statue of Liberty before returning to MacArthur airport.

“Boss lift was an unbelievable experience and reassured me of what a special job members of our military perform every day,” Berrent said in a news release. “Mick is a wonderful employee and I am thankful for his service and nomination, which enabled me to essentially live the life of a solider for a day.”

To learn more about NYU Winthrop Hospital, visit bit.ly/2qV0kY5 or call 1-866-WINTHROP.

Compiled by Nakeem Grant