For Arizona Cardinals cheerleader Megan Welter, the National Anthem is her favorite part of the game. That's because Welter, 28, is a war veteran who served 16 months in Iraq.
After graduating college in 2007, Welter, a third generation soldier, wanted to "take a job that was going to be meaningful, so I decided to join the 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 Henning to my unit to Iraq," she told ABC15.com.
"There's a 100 percent chance going into it that I knew I was going to be deployed. I felt it was the right thing to do."
Overseas, Welter was tasked with managing the communications network for the largest base in Iraq.
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Welter, who began dancing when she was 3 years old, started thinking about trying out for an NFL cheerleading team after seeing a performance from another team while she was in Iraq.
"There was another NFL team that brought cheerleaders over and I remember talking to them and getting information from them, seeing if it was even a possibility for me to even one day think about auditioning," she said.
When her tour in Iraq ended, she shelved the idea for a few years, but it was always in the back of her mind.
"I wanted to do this for the past three seasons and I always kind of chickened out," Welter said. "So I did it. And next thing you knew I made it to semifinals and then onto finals and at that point I was determined and driven to make this team."
She did. And she's been having a blast putting her dancing and cheerleading skills to use.
"It's definitely been out of her element but at the same time those are the types of people I look for in bringing into the program because when they grow so much and you can see that growth in them personally it makes it all worth it for them to be a part of the team," Heather Karberg, Cardinals cheer director, told azcardinals.com.
Though her job now consists of dancing on the field and pumping up the Cardinals crowd, Welter is still a company commander in the Army Reserve for a signal battalion based Mesa, Ariz.
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"It's just been such an amazing experience [with the Cardinals], and to be at this age and still be able to do this," she told ABC 15, "and to do it… taking such a long break, it's been really exciting."
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