Megan Welter: Iraq War Vet, NFL Cheerleader

Megan Welter served as a Signal Corps officer in the Iraq War. Now, she's an Arizona Cardinals cheerleader.


Megan Welter served as a Signal Corps officer in the Iraq War. Now, she’s an Arizona Cardinals cheerleader.

NESN (“Cheerleader Megan Welter Goes From Army Lieutenant Fighting in Iraq to NFL Sidelines “):

While NFL teams will sometimes use military and battle metaphors to describe their trade, few of their cheerleading squads turn to such lingo. One member of the Arizona Cardinals’ cheerleaders, however, knows firsthand what being disciplined and battle-tested really looks like.

Megan Welter has joined the Cardinals’ cheerleading squad at 28 years old, but what is perhaps most interesting about the cheerleader’s try at the team is not how long it took her to join the squad, but rather the path that led her there.

Welter was involved in ballet and dance from her youth all the way into college, but when she graduated in 2007, she went looking for a higher calling. She spent the last few years about as far away from dance or cheerleading that someone could get, instead serving as a platoon leader in Iraq with the U.S. Army.

“The war was going on at the time when I graduated college,” she told ABC15. “I wanted to take a job that was going to be meaningful, so I decided to join the Army.” Welter entered Officer Training School, even though she knew that rising in the ranks would mean she’d see action in Iraq. She was stationed north of Baghdad and, at 23 years old, ran the communications network for the base, the largest of its kind in Iraq. “It was definitely a sink-or-swim type of experience,” she said of the 16-month tour.

It was that experience that gave Welter both the interest in trying out cheerleading as well as the grit to see it through. While in Iraq, a squad from another NFL team visited, and she did some fact-finding. The idea stuck in her head, and three seasons after she returned home, she tried out for the Cardinals’ squad.

By the time she made the finals, “I was determined and driven to make this team,” she said. She’s one of the oldest members of the squad but doesn’t seem to mind.

“It’s just been such an amazing experience, and to be at this age and still be able to do this, and to do it … taking such a long break, it’s been really exciting,” she said.

Given their quarterback situation, this may be a harder job than she had in Iraq.

The reporting, though, appears to be wrong as to Welter’s path to her Army commission. The Yahoo video shows her wearing cammies with the Leadership-Excellence patch of the Army’s cadet command. That means she was in ROTC.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. C. Clavin says:

    She may have distracted me in the field…I’m just sayin’
    Yeah…I’m that shallow.

  2. BIll says:

    Jill Stevens served as a combat medic in Afghanistan before becoming Miss Utah 2007.

  3. beth says:

    I’m not sure what the purpose of this post is – just to get the photo of the hot woman up to generate clicks? In that case you should have put it on the front page. Given our perpetual state of war for the past decade I’m sure there’s plenty of war vets doing unusual or interesting jobs. I guess most of them don’t sport large breasts and tight shorts.

  4. James Joyner says:

    @beth: The transition from Army officer to NFL cheerleader is, to say the least, unusual. I’m not counting on a picture of Welter’s midriff to bring in swarms of traffic but you never know.

  5. satan says:

    @beth: I’m not sure what the purpose of this post is…

    I’m certain that these Male Chauvinist Pigs put out this post just to personally piss you off. Looks like it worked too!

  6. beth says:

    @satan: You misunderstand me – I wasn’t pissed off about it. Actually I was amused (maybe even bemused). I just wonder if an illustrated story about a male war vet becoming a Chippendale dancer would have gotten the same treatment.

  7. Lynda says:


    I just wonder if an illustrated story about a male war vet becoming a Chippendale dancer

    Put me down in the camp that wants James to try this – purely for the scientific value of course.

    And no, pictures of Putin baring his torso don’t count.

  8. Pinky says:

    So much cuter in the military uniform, without all the makeup. I know they have to wear it thick to be more visible at a distance, but still.

  9. John Peabody says:

    As a military musician, my favorite was the Army-clarinet-player-turned-centerfold in Penthouse magazine. On her ‘sheet’, her advice for life was “Always eat dessert first, ’cause you never know when someone is going to throw a grenade into the mess tent.” It was funny in 1992, I suppose.

  10. the Q says:

    Beth and Lynda, post more often.

  11. Tillman says:


    I just wonder if an illustrated story about a male war vet becoming a Chippendale dancer would have gotten the same treatment.

    I’ll be honest, and I think the same goes with this article:
    Probably not, unless it had an accompanying picture.

  12. 11B40 says:


    Myself, I find these stories about women being denied opportunity to serve in combat units very, very upsetting.

  13. James Joyner says:

    @beth: I’d have found that story amusing on a whole different level.

  14. satan says:

    @beth: How about a gay male veteran of the don’t ask don’t tell era of the United States Military who becomes a Chippendale Dancer.

  15. Satan says:

    @beth:OK guys. I’ll ask her.

    Beth, where do you see large breasts in that picture?

  16. Franklin says:

    Strong and beautiful. I like ’em like that.

  17. inhumans99 says:

    Wow, Megan’s story took a dark turn…she was arrested for domestic violence (her boyfriend was the victim).

  18. bill says:

    @inhumans99: see her mug shot? the wonders of makeup….rocking body though.