Angelica, Air Force Veteran, Welding I Graduate
“I’m very thankful to Workshops for Warriors. You have provided a place where I’ve found a passion and I know that I’m going to be able to provide a great life for myself and my family. Thank you.”
Angelica Schmidt was raised in Escondido, CA, a city in northern San Diego. “As I grew up, I came to the understanding that I was gay,” she said. “I didn’t see that kind of representation, as a gay Latina woman, where I was from at that time, and both of my parents were pretty homophobic. I didn’t have a lot of support.”
She attributes her good attitude and work ethic to trying to earn approval and love from her parents. “I was very well behaved because I wanted to feel like my parents and others loved me. It was tough. I learned how to go above and beyond what was expected of me.”
Coming from a family with limited resources, Angelica saw the military as one of her only opportunities after high school, so she joined the Air Force right after she graduated.
Angelica enjoyed the financial stability and independence the Air Force provided. “I got three meals a day. I was able to go out and treat myself, which I had never been able to do before,” she said. “It provided a lot of the things that my parents couldn’t.”
As military police with the Air Force, Angelica’s position leaned heavily towards security operations. “I wasn’t passionate about it,” she said. “I had a strong passion to serve my country, but the career field itself wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
After serving honorably for six years, Angelica decided to transition out of the Air Force. “I did really well in the military. It boosted my self-confidence. And I learned that I could do really difficult things. But I was ready to have more control of my life.”
“The transition is definitely very hard,” Angelica said. “I feel like I wasn’t prepared for what the civilian sector would be like, and what it would be like to have complete control of every aspect of your life.”
Angelica shared that she lost her sense of identity. “I joined the military when I was 18, and that was the only thing that I knew outside of living under my parents’ roof,” she said. “It becomes your whole life. You don’t have to think about anything other than what they tell you – this is who you are, this is what you’re going to do, and this is what you’re allowed to do. And that’s that,” she said.
After transitioning out of the Air Force, Angelica tried to discover a new career path. She worked in retail, as an EMT, at a grocery store, and even did more security. “At the end of the day,” she said. “Those things weren’t fulfilling me.”
Then Angelica found Workshops for Warriors and enrolled in the Spring 2023 welding program. “I saw that it was veteran-centric, which was a huge plus because I’d be around people who followed a similar path to mine,” Angelica said. “I think that’s what makes Workshops for Warriors so unique and so special. Everyone you’re learning with and the instructors who are teaching you had similar experiences.”
Angelica has enjoyed the sense of fulfillment she found at Workshops for Warriors. “Workshops for Warriors is building me up towards a greater purpose all over again,” she said. “I am going to serve my country again in a different capacity, and it’s going to provide that same sort of fulfillment. That’s something I’ve been looking for ever since I got out of active duty.”
“I hope that one day Workshops for Warriors will be all over the nation,” Angelica continued. “Veterans come from every walk of life and every part of the United States. I think we all deserve a chance to gain a skill set that will provide a high quality of life, a life that we deserve.”
To other women veterans considering attending Workshops for Warriors, Angelica says, “Take the leap and go at it with all your effort. It’s going to pay back dividends. You will have a unique, marketable, applicable skill set. And it’s something the United States needs now more than ever.”
When reflecting on her personal and career growth, Angelica said, “I feel like now I’ve learned to love who I am, regardless of what anyone else thinks of me. At the end of the day, I’m going to treat everyone with the same respect that I think we all deserve as human beings.” We asked her if she feels like she received that respect at Workshops for Warriors. “Absolutely,” she said.