Both my parents were in the U.S. Air Force through my early childhood. I had an attachment to the military from the beginning, earning an ROTC scholarship to college. I struggled with college with no one looking over my shoulder and making me do homework. I eventually failed enough classes my GPA dropped low enough to lose my scholarship. I stuck it out, trying to salvage my grades, but dropped out when I ran out of money. I worked for a couple of years but got tired of working dead-end jobs. I wanted to go back to school, but couldn’t get financial aid, and knew the military would help. I had a talent for foreign languages in college, and with my parents working around planes as a kid, I thought it would be cool to fly, so I went in as an Airborne Linguist. On the day I chose my job, there was one Airborne Linguist spot available across the whole Air Force. It felt like fate. I left for Basic Training, April 4, 2006.
It took me three years to complete training. I studied Arabic, but by the time I finished training, there wasn’t a use for my skills. I had an opportunity to volunteer for a new program, Project Liberty, going from concept to operational in six months. I deployed to Iraq before Thanksgiving 2009, my first time out of the country. This was the best time of my career, working with great people and feeling like we were accomplishing something. Afterward, I had a rare opportunity to be an instructor, with so little experience. It was a busy time. I had to make personal sacrifices, leaving the guy I would eventually marry.
It was a difficult choice to give up being a linguist since that is what I joined the military to do, but it was exciting to do something that’s never been done. I deployed two more times to Afghanistan, in 2012 and again in 2013. In December of 2012, I lost my dad. Meanwhile, I reunited with my old boyfriend, and in April 2013, we eloped. With the pace at which we were working and dealing with the death of my father, I started struggling. My unit didn’t help, through malicious intent or just ignorance, I was chosen for Force Reduction in 2013. In September 2014, I separated with an honorable discharge, a year and a half early. It was a blessing in disguise. Although I’ve struggled with employment since leaving, I’m happy to be out of the full-time military.
I’m now a full-time student excelling in the Industrial Design program at Arizona State University learning to create new and innovative consumer products and putting my previously undervalued creative skills to good use.