My dad was killed in action in Afghanistan. He still shapes my life

KABUL (Agencies): I was only 10 years old at the time, and I’ll never forget it. I was pulled out of my fourth-grade class and told that my father had been killed earlier that morning. Until that day, I had a perfect childhood, but my life changed in an instant. It was the most difficult thing I have ever experienced.
My father was my best friend, and realizing I would never see him again was very hard for me to accept. I struggled with anxiety and depression soon after losing my father. I didn’t think life would ever be OK again, and the thought of living without my dad was very scary. Growing up, I was always proud of my father. When I thought of heroes, I thought of my dad.
His name was Emigdio, and to his friends he was known as “EZ.” He served for nearly 20 years in the US Army and attained the rank of master sergeant. He was a Special Forces soldier who served in the first Gulf War and was in Afghanistan in February 2006 when his vehicle was hit by an IED while on patrol. My dad loved serving his country. It was his passion, and it inspired my siblings. My sister has worked with veterans, something she has always loved; my brother enlisted in the Army because he wanted to carry on our father’s legacy.
He would want my siblings and I to live a happy and fulfilled life. Although I have struggled to find my passion, my dad taught me to never give up no matter how hard things get, which is why I keep working. After my dad died, I attended a summer camp for children of fallen soldiers. I went to the camp for about four years until I graduated high school. I returned as a camp counselor and mentored young girls who experienced the same loss.
Through this experience, I found my passion. I was able to offer advice and help others, and I realized that with the right education, I could make a career out of helping others. Now, with the help of Freedom Alliance, I am studying social work at Mesa Community College. Losing my dad was a traumatic experience, but I still follow his advice to never give up.
I want to become a counselor for people who experience grief, a profession that would make my dad proud. Even though he is no longer here, I try to do things and live my life in ways that would make him proud. It is my dad’s wise counsel that has helped me find my own voice and build a life of my own.
I want people to know that it is possible to turn a difficult experience into something positive. I want to encourage people to not give up on themselves and to do things that make them happy. These are the types of things my dad taught me, even after he was gone. My dad’s service to our country means the world to me. Without his sacrifice, I would not be living the life I am today. Each day, he reminds me to live a life of meaning and to always try my hardest. I strive to be the type of person he was, and hope one day I may be even half the person he was.