Got Your 6 Launches #ShesBadass PSA to Celebrate Women Veterans
WASHINGTON (March 31, 2017) – While the nation wraps up Women’s History Month, the veteran empowerment organization Got Your 6 today launched a new PSA, #ShesBadass, to continue celebrating the accomplishments of women veterans. The PSA supported by actress Michelle Monaghan features 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.
“Over the past decade, women service members – the fastest growing group within the military and veteran populations – have served in a variety of roles in Iraq, Afghanistan, and throughout our country. But their service is often overlooked when they leave the military,” said Iraq War veteran and Got Your 6 Director of Content Kate Hoit. “We hope people will watch and share this video to help us defy stereotypes and put a face to a new generation of veterans.”
Women now total almost 11 percent of all veterans, including 20 percent of veterans under the age of 50, yet many people underappreciate their contributions and accomplishments. For example, after exiting the military, women veterans are more likely to attend and complete higher education degrees compared to their male veteran or civilian counterparts; 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.
Below are the 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.
“You know, I get all sorts of questions. ‘I didn’t realize women could even be doing the jobs you were doing.’ ‘You’re so small and so frail and so beautiful, there’s no way you’re a Marine,'” Ennis says in the PSA.
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.
“I will go in to auditions that specifically ask for female veterans, and then I get there and they tell me I don’t look like a female veteran. And I say, ‘What does a female veteran look like?'” says Marshall.
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.
Talking about discovering a mass on her abdomen while deployed in Afghanistan, Cardenas says, “I felt like if I left, the guys would think I was running … so I stayed in country another three months. Two days after I got home I got diagnosed with stage III breast cancer.”
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.
“When I tell people I’m a veteran, I kind of get that look. ‘Which country?’ I have to say, ‘U.S. Army veteran,'” says Abalos.
Followers are encouraged to share their stories and the stories of the women veterans they know by using the #ShesBadass hashtag and visiting Got Your 6’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. #ShesBadass t-shirts are also available in Got Your 6’s store. The PSA is available here: https://youtu.be/yX7WKIgX3JE.
ABOUT GOT YOUR 6:
Got Your 6 unites nonprofit, Hollywood, and government partners to empower veterans. We believe that veterans are leaders, team builders, and problem solvers who have the unique potential to strengthen communities across the country. As a coalition, Got Your 6 works to integrate these perspectives into popular culture, engage veterans and civilians together to foster understanding, and empower veterans to lead in their communities. For more information, visit www.gotyour6.org.