Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky 2021-08-05 11:55:54 –
Dearborn, Michigan — With her own approval, Captain Macer Oza is not a typical US Air Force officer. A 29-year-old JAG officer (or Air Force lawyer) grew up in Dearborn, Michigan, and she Proudly wearing a hijab..
“When I first joined, I personally had never seen another Muslim woman in a uniformed hijab,” she said.
It was something Ouza had to fight too. Hijab, along with other Air Force religious clothing, requires approval through the process of religious accommodation.
“When I first attended, I was told that I would not be allowed to apply for religious accommodation until I completed the officer training school,” Ouza said. “I felt compelled to choose between serving my country and practicing the beliefs of my faith.”
In 2018, Ouza had to find her own legal guidance before she was appointed as a JAG officer.
“I wanted to participate because I wanted to protect and defend the freedom of this country, but ironically, I felt that my religious freedom was being deprived,” she said. “So I called my mentor, and with her advice, we sought representatives of the ACLU and Hammoud & Dakhlallah legal groups.”
Thanks to these efforts, the Air Force not only provided Uza with religious accommodation, but also Changed policy Within a year.
“They changed their policy to allow pre-registration of religious accommodation requests,” she said.
This means that airlines can immediately begin the process of applying for and acquiring religious accommodation.
“Unless someone causes a problem, the problem may not actually happen, and I’m that type of person,” Uza said.
Then creating a problem, or in this case claiming, is what Ouza does every day for other people. She works as a Special Victim Lawyer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
“I represent victims of sexual assault and domestic violence,” Uza said.
Ouza says her inspiration for joining the Air Force began with her parents and their dreams for her future.
“My parents emigrated from Lebanon to Michigan in the early 80’s,” she said. “They came here with only clothes on their backs.”
Ouza’s father’s first job in the United States was Ford. Growing up, she said her parents had big dreams and taught her to fight hard for her values.
It’s those lessons that Ouza first said she led her into her career.
“I wanted to represent the marginalized group and help empower others to have a say,” she said.
Ouza uses Ticktaku As a megaphone for that effort. Her videos have been played millions of times and she often uses comedy and satire to spread the message of love, inclusion and acceptance.
The Air Force does not track the number of religious accommodations it grants. However, the agency answered questions about demographics among its service members.
Overall, the Air Force is primarily male and white.According to that Self-reported demographic information, Only 21.3% of active Air Force personnel are women.
The following percentages reflect the racial identification of active Air Force officers.
- 71% white
- 15% Black or African American
- 4.3% Asian
- 0.8% American Indian / Native Alaska
- 1.2% Native Hawaiians / Other Pacific Islanders
- 4.6% Identify multiple races
- 3.5% rejected answer
In addition, “Hispanic or Latin Americans” are considered ethnic rather than race, so they are registered individually.
- 15.9% Hispanic or Latin American
- 80.0% not Hispanic or Latino
- 4.1% refused answer
“I receive messages every day [basis] From Muslims, from Sikhs, from other minorities who want to wear uniforms and items of worship. “
Ouza says he has seen a few more women in the Air Force’s sports hijab since the policy was changed.
“You can’t be something you can’t see,” she said. “Hopefully they can see themselves in me. When they see someone like me in this position, I want them to see themselves. “
This story was originally published by Jenn Schanz at the Scripps Station WXYZ In Detroit.