“Untitled” by Angie Mix

I am a woman and I am short. I am an Airman and I am a Veteran. I am a sister and I am an aunt. I am a student and I am a friend. Some of these I chose, and some of them just are. An important decision I made during my military service was the decision to be a daughter.

A daughter to a man who took on the challenge of raising me at a time when I put every effort into making sure everyone around me disliked me as much as I disliked myself. Bruce stood his ground beside the woman he loved knowing it would be a love intertwined with the tears of past pains and the struggle of healing. My stepfather firmly planted himself beside the woman he loved regardless of the three confused and resentful children pushing against him.

The man who, out of shear exhaustion, earned acceptance as part of my life, turned out to be the hero of my childhood. He was also the one supporter of my decision to enter the military, regardless of what anyone else had to say about it.

The crisis of self-identity, internal yearning to connect life with a purpose, and the simple feeling of being an aimless wanderer was what initially drew me to the military. True to its promise, the military gave me purpose; even better it gave me a focus, a place, a community to belong to and identify with. It was during my time in basic training and tech school that I developed the foresight to see an even larger picture of what my place was in the world – not only in the context of the military mission at hand, but in the context of my heart and family.

I realized the true significance of a single night in the 10th grade when my stepfather sat me down in complete humility and love asked me if he could adopt me. Having never known my biological father, and having been raised until 14 with an abusive and hateful stepparent. I was in no way grateful for this request. Rather, the complete opposite reaction burned and twisted in my stomach and bones.

I was indignant at this proposal and completely caught off guard. In my 16 year-old mind I questioned why the man I had finally come to accept and respect would want to be my “dad,” a title I associated with all things painful and anguished. My snub of the request quickly put the issue to rest, until one night, hundreds of miles from the kitchen table where the whole discussion began, my stomach and bones again began to burn and twist. Only this time the fire came from a sincere despairing and passionate yearning of wanting to complete the “who I am” process by becoming “a daughter”.

Not just “a daughter” to be clear, the daughter, the daughter of a man who I respected and loved. The daughter of a man who, without my knowing had instilled in me a sense of integrity and character which would only become more refined and solidified through the training and teachings of the military. A man whose guidance and wisdom carried me through the lonely nights of basic and the dark traumas I would come to face. A man who had earned the respect and admiration of anyone he encountered from the waitress at his favorite restaurant, to senators and governors, to the law enforcement agencies he worked with, to the community in which we lived. The community he had dedicated his life to serving as Sheriff.

I decided to become the daughter of a man who understood the reason I felt it was more loving for me to call him Bruce than dad. A term that took me over 4 years to say to him, because I had to redefine the meaning which proved a struggle in and of itself.

My dad passed away last fall. I have made the decision to live my life in honor of my dad and in honor of our name.

Angie Mix served in the United States Air Force from 2001 to 2007.  She deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom.  In the Air Force Angie worked in the Communications squadron at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas Nevada on intrusion detection systems as well as audio/video equipment used on Thunderbird aircraft and maintaining flight line camera operations.  Angie is currently a student at UC Davis majoring in sociology.  Career goals include working with veterans struggling with PTSD and homelessness, focusing on women veterans dealing with these issues.  Angie volunteers at local stand down events serving the homeless veteran population as well as Toys for Tots.