When You Give A Girl A Soldier
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When You Give A Girl A Soldier

My dad was Army Strong way before he was a father.

When You Give A Girl A Soldier
Leigh Anne Hardwick

My dad enlisted long before I was born, he was Army Strong way before he was a father. That doesn't change the fact that he's a pretty tremendous dad, as far as dads go. In fact, it's probably one of the reasons he is so great.

Dad's been military since he graduated high school. He went to the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, retired as a CSM from the Army National Guard in 2015, and even works for the Army Corps of Engineers as a civilian.

Being in the military and experiencing war is something that takes a massive toll on everyone who has done it. I grew up having experiences that I didn't fully understand because my dad is a combat veteran. It wasn't until I was a teenager that I learned why we didn't go to places with big crowds growing up and why our trick-or-treating adventures were always cut short. Once I learned that my dad struggled daily, I became a lot more considerate as a person.

Dad and I have always argued... mostly because we're exactly the same. Mom tells stories of us fighting when I was just learning to talk because we both had to have the last word. I'm not going to lie and say that this has changed at all since we've gotten older, but it's definitely made us closer.

Dad's a total badass, and he wants to make sure that everyone knows it. He was born to be in charge and, for some reason, people love him for it. I've always admired his leadership, even as a kid when I didn't understand it. When he came home from Kosovo when I was 14, I began to realize how awesome it was and how hard he'd always worked in the Army. When his unit shuttled off of the busses, Dad was the one to give a speech commending the unit for their hard work and welcoming everyone back to the states.

Growing up with an Army Dad, who often compares himself to The Great Santini, made me strong. I grew up with a respect for those who serve our country that was stronger than the respect many adults have now. I learned to be an analytical thinker.

I was taught to be aware of my surroundings and to be prepared for anything that was thrown my way. I know how to respect others and how to love those who were closest to me.

Dad is one of my best friends, no matter how much we fight or how often we see each other. The experiences I've had with him, both as a dad and as a soldier, are invaluable. I am now and will always be a proud daughter of a soldier. And a proud Army Brat.

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