Miyoko Hikiji, an ISU alumnus and veteran, garnered a crowd at Memorial Union to discuss the upcoming release of her book.

Hikiji, a native of Cedar Rapids and graduate of Iowa State, served in the U.S. Army and the Iowa Army National Guard.

She was mobilized and deployed to Iraq in 2003 with the 2133rd Transportation Co. in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After Hikiji returned home, she earned degrees in psychology and journalism and mass communications.

“For the veterans in the audience, I want you to feel uplifted and encouraged," Hikiji said. "I want you to leave this place with a spark that makes you look back on your service time and find new potential and increased value in it."

Her book titled "All I Could Be: My Story as a Woman Warrior in Iraq," released at the end of April, chronicles her experiences of being deployed in Iraq.

Hikiji is a passionate veterans advocate and is outspoken on the issues of military sexual trauma, suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

She encouraged all service members to be proud of their own individual story and to pass it on to others.

“I want you to dig deep in order to realize that, not only did you do something that a great majority of the population has very little intimate knowledge of, but that your individual story along with the stories of all veterans is the legacy that will be passed on to generations to come,” Hikiji said.

Hikiji stressed that every service member’s story is different and unique, but one thing everyone should do is accept it as their truth.

“We each have our own [story], and we each have to own that for ourselves; and part of the process for me for writing the book was simply find my truth and owning it,” Hikiji said.

Jathan Chicoine, ISU veterans services coordinator and friend of Hikiji, helped organize the event at Memorial Union.

“I have a lot of respect and appreciation for Miyoko," Chicoine said. "To be up here and share your story and help the dialogue; I think the most important thing we can do is to create opportunities for greater dialogue in ways that might create a deeper empathy and understanding for the sacrifice that not only veteran’s make but their families as well."

Hikiji’s book will be sold at the ISU Book Store. After the book is released, Hikiji will be returning to Iowa State's campus for a book signing event.

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