Under the Radar

#ShesBadass -- Celebrating Women Veterans

March was Women’s History Month and veteran nonprofit Got Your 6 launched a new public service announcement video #ShesBadass on March 31st to celebrate the accomplishments of women veterans. Since women make history every month and veterans always deserve more of a spotlight, we're posting the video here and now in April.

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Michelle Monaghan (who talked to us about her movie Fort Bliss and starred in Patriots Day) introduces the clip, which features four veterans: a former helicopter door gunner, a refugee-turned-soldier-turned dentist, an actress with a heart for activism, and a breast cancer survivor who became a physical fitness coach.

Fact: women now total almost 11 percent of all veterans, including 20 percent of veterans under the age of 50, yet many civilians don't realize their contributions and accomplishments. After exiting the military, women veterans are more likely to earn higher education degrees compared to their male veteran or civilian counterparts. They have higher average incomes than non-veterans ($54,000 vs. $44,000) and are more likely to work in management roles and professions compared to their non-veteran counterparts.

Got Your Six provided these bios of the women veterans featured in #ShesBadass:

  • Kirstie Ennis, who joined the U.S. Marine Corps at 17 years old, served for six years, including as a helicopter door gunner and airframes mechanic on the CH-53 platforms. On June 23, 2012, during her last deployment to Afghanistan, her helicopter went down while performing combat resupplies to FOB Now Zad. As a result of the crash she sustained various injuries including an above the knee amputation on her left leg, full thickness facial trauma, traumatic brain injury, cervical and lumbar spine trauma, and bilateral shoulder damage. She medically retired out of the Marine Corps as a Sergeant in May 2014. She has earned her Masters in Psychology, and is in her last semester for her Masters in Business Administration. 
  • Skye Marshall was born in Chicago, Illinois, and is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, proudly serving both pre- and post-9/11. After her enlistment was fulfilled, Skye returned home and graduated from Northeastern Illinois University, with honors. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Communication, Media and Theatre (CMT Program). While living in NYC, she trained at Stella Adler Studio of Acting, and later moved to Los Angeles, California, where she is pursuing her dream of acting. 
  • Mylee Cardenas served in the U.S. Army for more than 12 years where she worked as a civil affairs specialist and an instructor to initial entry soldiers, preparing them for the mental and physical expectations of their jobs. During her deployment to Afghanistan, she enabled U.S. Special Operations Teams to gain cultural insight, gather information on enemy activities, and help promote governance for Afghan families. While deployed, she discovered a mass in her left breast but continued her tour. Upon returning to the U.S., she was diagnosed with stage IIIc breast cancer – a fight she eventually won. Today she shares her story about body weight image challenges to motivate others to take control of their health and fitness regardless of their situation. She is currently a spokesperson for the fitness company Manning Up USA and works as a trainer/coach to help others realize the benefits of living a healthy and fit lifestyle.
  •  Tigon Abalos is a refugee who emigrated with her family of nine from the poor countryside of Vietnam. After 9/11, she decided to delay her education and join the U.S. Army. When Tigon finished her military obligation, she was accepted into the UCLA School of Dentistry. There she co-founded Operation Bruin Smiles as the first university dental subsidy program in the U.S. that provides free dental care to college veterans and former foster youth.

To further raise awareness, you're encouraged to share your stories and the stories of the women veterans you know by using the #ShesBadass hashtag and visiting Got Your 6’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. Stylish #ShesBadass t-shirts are also available in Got Your 6’s store.

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