WASHINGTON — Got Your 6's newest public service campaign wants to remind Americans that military women aren't just a key part of America's fighting force.
They're also badass.
The #ShesBadass campaign, launched on the last day of Women's History Month, includes stories of women veterans discussing their service, post-military life and challenges. The group, whose stated goal is to change public perceptions of veterans in America, released a new online video Friday to spread that message.
It features short stories on four women: a former helicopter door gunner and amputee, a refugee-turned-soldier-turned-dentist, an airman who later pursued acting, and a breast cancer survivor who became a physical fitness coach.
"When I tell people I'm a veteran, I kind of get that look: 'Which country?'" said Tigon Abalos, one of the veterans featured in the video. "I have to say 'U.S. Army veteran.'"
The campaign comes amid dramatic changes for women servicemembers in recent years, including the opening of all combat jobs to women and the recent nude photo sharing scandal that has highlighted issues of misogyny and harassment in the ranks.
Got Your 6 Director of Content Kate Hoit, an Iraq War veteran, said she hopes the video serves as wake-up call for the public and a resource for her peers.
"My goal was to help defy stereotypes and put a face to a new generation of veterans. And I think we accomplished our goal," she said.
"So the next time someone says, 'You were in the military? But you're so small,' or 'you don't look like a veteran,' just show them this video. And then tell them to kindly f*** off."
Women now total nearly 11 percent of veterans in America, and roughly 20 percent of all veterans under the age of 50.
Lawmakers and veterans groups have lobbied for better Veterans Affairs services in recent years as those numbers have risen, but advocates say the department still needs major changes in aging hospitals and outdated policies to fully embrace the needs of women veterans.
Got Your 6 officials are also hoping that women currently serving and out of the military will use the #ShesBadass hashtag on social media to share their own stories, bringing more public attention to their role in their communities.
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.