Driven by faith

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brigitte N. Brantley
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
Although faith is a strong presence in many lives, for one Moody woman it has been a guiding force that has led her through an eclectic series of places, professions and experiences.

Ann Lukens is currently the 23rd Force Support Squadron school liaison officer, but throughout her career at Moody, she has also done many other things that could be described as an inspired journey, led by her belief that nothing happens by chance.

The roots of Ann's faith began when her father's side of the family faced legal persecution because of their religion.

"My father's family left Ireland because their land was confiscated due to their religion," said Mrs. Lukens. "Growing up knowing this allowed me to gain an appreciation for the U.S. military, which is vital in keeping this country safe."

Eventually, it was her appreciation of the military that motivated Mrs. Lukens to serve in the Air Force as an enlisted member and later on in many civilian positions, one of which she still presently holds.

Before serving as the Airman and Family Readiness Center chief for nearly ten years, she served in various volunteer positions including wing ombudsman at an overseas base, drug and alcohol program counselor and as a state-certified DUI evaluator.

Mrs. Lukens met her husband while stationed at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., and she then applied for an early discharge so she could accompany her family to their next station in Greece.

"Becoming a spouse actually opened my eyes to what military families go through and I realized I had the opportunity and talent to work with them, and I felt it was important to do this," she said. "Without faith in my life, I don't even know where I would be."

Her husband John attests to this, stating he knows she always felt like this was a calling.

"Ann truly believes in what she does and she is great at it," he said. "Faith is one of the most important things to her and there's no doubt in our minds that this is where we were meant to be. She is in a place where she feels like she needs to be and where she can help people she truly cares about."

However, the people she cares about aren't limited to the ones she encounters during her job. As an instructor for the Catholic Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program, she spreads her faith and influence even more.

"The importance of faith in her life is quite apparent," said Amy Rodriguez, 23rd Force Support Squadron Education Center customer service representative. "It's obvious she's passionate about sharing her faith with others and her classes are very informative; as opposed to focusing only on Catholicism, she also shares knowledge about other religions."

To this day, past students still call her to catch up and to ask advice about a variety of things.

In addition to her faith, Mrs. Lukens has always had a stubborn side, which may have actually played a role in saving her life in 2008.

"While eating dinner one night, I just fell over and died," she said. "I don't remember anything that happened during the next couple of weeks."

What Ann didn't know until later was that she experienced sudden cardiac death.

"Once she fell over, I began CPR to keep her going until the ambulance arrived," John said. "Between the time she fell over and the time she got to the hospital, her heart stopped and she died five times. Finally, the electric shock she received at the hospital got her into a stable condition."

Although she doesn't recall the next few days, she was left with a greater appreciation for the everyday things in life.

"Maybe through sudden cardiac death, God was trying to get my attention," she added. "Although my faith was strong before I died, I now appreciate life even more because it is so valuable and precious."

John agrees and added that she still has plenty of good left to do here on earth.

"Maybe the man upstairs just wasn't ready for her, although he sure knows I wasn't when we got married," he said. "Faith is what brought us together and that faith is still there."

Until the day Mrs. Lukens retires and travels west to visit her favorite historical sites, she plans to keep using her faith to make a difference in her life and the lives of many Moody members.