Lt. Col. Lita Rakhra
Deputy Chief of Staff, WMD & Garrison Commander
Washington Air National Guard
Q: What brought you to the Washington Military Department/Washington National Guard?
A: I was 18 in an accounting class at Tacoma Community College and met an Airman who worked for the reserves on McChord AFB. He was a crew chief and was telling me all about his travel and educational opportunities. It got me excited. A year later I brought it up again with my mom. She called around and ended up calling the Air National Guard (ANG) and connecting with a recruiter. Once I learned about the ANG I was excited about educational opportunities, travel, and helping Washington communities ….I can still remember the poster of guardsmen passing sandbags down a line to build a barrier. That image of being part of something bigger than myself and helping others is what sold me on the ANG.
Q: How long have you worked here?
A: I have spent my entire Air National Guard career in the WA Military Department. As of 2022, I will have been serving 28 years primarily in a full-time capacity. I initially joined the Air National Guard as an E-3 in 1993. I was born in Canada and at that time I had a green card. The rule was you could do one enlistment on a green card. I served for 6 years and then had to separate since my citizenship had not come through yet. During those six years I served in the 194 WG Finance Office – now known as the 194th Comptroller Flight. After separating it took me ten months to get my citizenship and then re-enlist in the WA ANG. I spent the next six years working in the recruiting and retention career field. While working, I was going to college in the evenings to earn my bachelor’s degree. Shortly after I earned my bachelor’s degree in 2006, I had the opportunity to go to officer commissioning school. I trained as a communications (later known as cyberspace) officer. I spent five years at the 111th Air Support Operations Squadron as the Director of Mission Support and used that experience as a logistics officer in the 194 LRS. I then went back into the cyberspace community as the 194th Communications Flight Commander. My background led me to my current position in the joint realm.
Q: What's the most inspiring part of your job?
A: Every day our Airmen, Soldiers, and civilian professionals come to work to do great things for our communities and country. They are always seeking to better their organizations and work collaboratively.
Q: What motivates you to work hard?
A: The impact on our guardsman and members of the community.
Q: What do you wish other people knew about the Washington Military Department?
A: The WMD is a great place to work and you can see the impact it has in our state and country. Having been in multiple roles and different parts of the agency, I also believe the leadership throughout the WMD genuinely enables individuals and teams to be successful.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: At a young age I moved with my mom from Vancouver, Canada to the Seattle area. I spent most of my formative years in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). In tenth grade I went to live with my dad in Southern California until I graduated high school. After high school I moved back to the PNW.
Q: What’s one of your fondest memories in childhood?
A: Our family had a boat and we would go out fishing or scuba diving in the Puget sound. As a child I hated getting up…. at what felt like 2 a.m. Now my favorite memories are floating on the boat, reading, fishing and eating!
Q: Who is the most influential person in your life? What made them so impactful?
A: My mom has been the cornerstone of my life. She has always had my best interests at heart. She told me I could do anything I wanted to and has been the driving force behind most of the big decisions in my life.
Q: Do you have any skills/hobbies/talents that most people don’t know about?
A: I was certified to scuba dive when I was 12 years old!
Q: If you only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?
A: This is a hard one. I love food. I would say that the one food craving that has survived decades is buffalo wings with bleu cheese. Of course, since I eat them all the time...I consider myself an expert.
Q: Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?
A: The pandemic highlighted for me how important it is to feel connected. I always knew that it was something I needed in my life, but I didn’t realize how much seeing people’s faces while walking down a street or in a store makes you feel more connected to your community.
Q: How do you recharge from a busy or stressful day?
A: After really stressful days I focus on dialing down the adrenaline through breathing and being in the moment.
Q: Speaking of pets – do you have any? Tell me about ‘em –
A: Three animals in the house! Henry is our ridiculously tall and lanky Great Pyrenees. He is 2 yrs old and very sweet. We also have two cats named Pinot and Noir. Add in two kids (18 & 20) and 2 adults and it’s almost a farm.
Q: What do you want to make sure you do before you die?
A: Travel, travel, travel with my husband. We love to go to different places, embed in the community, go to shops and markets and just enjoy the day to day life.
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