Megan Welter is a cheerleader for the Arizona Cardinals pro-football team. But there is more than meets the eye in her story.
Not many would associate an Iraq war veteran and cheerleading, but in this case the two go hand in hand. Megan Welter is a 28-year-old regular woman who has made it, not only in the competitive world of pom-poms, but wearing the uniform for the United States Army as a platoon leader.
She has taken ballet since she was 3-years-old and danced competitively since she was 9-years-old. She was part of her college dance team as well.
When Megan graduated in 2007 she put her dancing career on hold for something more meaningful.
“The war was going on at the time when I graduated college,” she told ABC15. “I wanted to take a job that was going to be meaningful, so I decided to join the Army.”
The Iraq war veteran turned Cardinals cheerleader completed basic training and enrolled in Officer Training School.
“I was commissioned a second lieutenant at the end of April in 2007,” Welter said. “And from there I became cable platoon leader and I deployed a month later from Henning Air Force base] to my unit to Iraq.”
Welter knew, as a third generation soldier, that when she entered the military she would have a 100 percent chance of being deployed to the war zone.
“I thought it was the right thing to do,” she told the Cardinals in a 2012 video profile. “I was deployed to Joint Base Belad which is about an hour north of Baghdad. At first, it was, it was scary you know, but…it’s what I signed up to do.”
While she was stationed in Iraq during her 16-month tour, another NFL team visited. She remembers talking to the cheerleaders asking if it was even a possibility that she could one day be like them.
After returning home it took her three seasons to gather her courage and audition for a spot in the Cardinals cheerleading squad, which she did in 2011.
She made it through the semifinals and, then, along with more than 100 other young women, to the finals. “At that point I was determined and driven to make this team.”
Welter is one of the oldest members of the cheerleading team and says the experience has been amazing, especially because of the fact that there are so many younger candidates.
When she is not cheering for the Cardinals, this Iraq war veteran still works for the Army as a reservist and adds that the best part of cheering is when the National Anthem is played and they bring out the huge American flag.
“When you see the flag, it means a lot, you know, because our country has given us so many freedoms, and to be a part of fighting for that and maintaining that, it, it means a lot. So yes, it gives me goosebumps, I can’t help it.”
What do you think of Megan Welter, cheerleader and Iraq war veteran?
[Image via Arizona Cardinals]