De Vito joined the Air National Guard after graduating from Hudson Valley Community College with a degree in applied science. She took the aptitude test to get into the guard with a friend.
"I liked the idea of, as advertised, one weekend a month and two weeks a year." De Vito said.
After graduation, she left for basic training, completed tech school and flew with the Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron as a medical technician, then enrolled at SUNY Cortland to earn a bachelor's degree.
"I was a flyer," De Vito said. "We did flights two weekends a month. Because I did not live locally, I needed to do the weekend trips to other parts of the country to keep my training up."
Once she graduated from Cortland in December 2001, she found a temporary job as a physical education teacher at Mohonasen, but it took another year to find a full-time slot.
"I liked the people there. We had a young staff and we became friends quickly," De Vito said. "I love to teach, and the kids really hype me up."
The day before St. Patrick's Day in 2003 she received a call at her house in Stillwater: She was being deployed to Iraq.
"It was a really hard day. We only had 48 hours to get ready," she said. "At that time I had only been married six months and just picked up a new puppy that day. It was hard, but I always knew it could happen."
She spent four months at Camp Wolfe in Kuwait preparing wounded soldiers for transport to Spain or Germany.
"The first day we were there, the chemical attack sirens kept going off," De Vito said. "It was scary because we did not know how to get the chemical suits on and when we did, it was about 100 degrees, which was not a good combination. We had so many sirens that day, I wasn't sure what was going on."