Mickey Willenbring has always been a fighter. She grew up being shuffled between her family on reservations in the upper Midwest, family on the West Coast, and in the foster care system.

The Army called to her as a way to take control of her life, and at the age of 20, she enlisted.

What she didn’t know was that her biggest fight would lie not on the battlefield, but in coming home.

She came to StoryCorps in Eugene, Oregon to remember.


Over the past nine years, Mickey has owned and operated the Dot Ranch Navajo-Churro sheep farm in rural Oregon. She says she hasn’t had a major episode related to her PTSD since starting the ranch.

Top photo: Mickey Willenbring poses at her StoryCorps interview in Eugene, Oregon on January 26, 2019. Photo by Dupe Oyebolu/StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: Mickey Willenbring at work on her ranch with one of her Navajo-Churro sheep. Photo by Tim Herrera.

Originally aired March 1, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition.