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Arizona Air National Guardswoman serving country that gave her a better life

Viktoriia was 15 when her mother moved them to the U.S. for a better life. Now she's serving with the Air National Guard.

PHOENIX — Staff Sergeant Viktoriia Kharlan was 15 when her mother decided to move to the United States for a better life.

“The situation wasn’t doing so good. Obviously, with the tensions. So, my mom felt like she wanted to save me,” said Kharlan.

Kharlan grew up in Ukraine. The two flew into Chicago and drove to Iowa, where she had to learn a new language and culture.

“The life was very fast-paced compared to Ukraine,” said Kharlan.

Soon after high school, she decided to serve the country that gave her a safe home. Enlisting in the Air National Guard in Iowa, she moved to Arizona for the warmer weather and opportunities like many people from the Midwest.

She is now a staff sergeant serving with the 161st Air Refueling Wing at Goldwater Air National Guard Base.

While she’s enjoying her life in the United States, the conflict in Ukraine is very much on her mind.

“My dad. My grandparents. My cousins are still there,” said Kharlan. “I was on the phone with my dad a few months ago. You can hear the sirens when they go off.”

Caught between two opposite realities – war and peace – she’s happy where her life has taken her.

“I’m thankful for everything this country gave me, and this is one of the reasons why I show up every day and why I do this job.”


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