Megan Welter, cheerleader for the Cardinals, is also Iraq vet

By CAROLINE LEE, UPI.com   |   Aug. 1, 2013 at 2:01 PM   |   Comments

Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Megan Welter, 28, is an Arizona Cardinals cheerleader.

But first, she fought in the Iraq war. Welter served 16 months in Iraq after her 2007 college graduation. She said she wanted to take a job that "was going to be meaningful," so she joined the U.S. Army.

“When I first joined, I went to basic training and from there I went to officer candidate school, so I was commissioned a second Lieutenant, and from there I became cable platoon leader and I deployed a month later from Benning to my unit to Iraq,” Welter said.

"There's a 100 percent chance going into it that I knew I was going to be deployed," Welter, a third-generation soldier, said. "I felt it was the right thing to do." Welter was deployed to Joint Base Belad, an hour north of Baghdad.

Welter began ballet lessons at age 3 and later danced competitively. When a group of NFL cheerleaders came to entertain the troops in Iraq, Welter talked to them about her background.

"I remember talking to them, getting information, seeing if it was even a possibility," she said.

After she returned home, it took three seasons for her to gather the courage to audition for the Cardinals, but in 2011, she went for it. She made it through the semifinals and, then, along with more than 100 other young women, to the finals. It had been seven years since she had danced competitively in college.

She does not leave her military background in the locker room, though -- every time she hears the national anthem, she said, she thinks about her deployment.

“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 goose bumps, I can’t help it,” she said.

Welter serves as an Army reservist when she is not cheering.

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