For one Arizona Cardinals cheerleader, hearing the national anthem and seeing the American flag before games have a special meaning.
It wasn’t easy for Megan Welter to go from Iraq veteran to NFL cheerleader, but the journey, she said, was worth it.
“Our country has given us so many freedoms,” Welter told ABC15. “To be a part of fighting for that and maintaining that means a lot. It gives me goosebumps.”
After graduating in 2007, Welter put her dance career on hold to “to take a job that was going to be meaningful, so I decided to join the Army."
Welter finished basic training and enrolled in Officer Training school. She ended up doing a 16-month tour in Iraq.
“My job was to make sure that…the soliders that were actually out were able to communicate,” she said.
A a third-generation soldier, Welter knew she had a "100 percent chance" of going to Iraq once she went into officer training.
"I thought it was the right thing to do," Welter told azcardinals.com in 2012. "I was deployed to Joint Base Belad which is about an hour north of Baghdad. At first, it was, it was scary you know, but…it’s what I signed up to do."
At 23 years old, she was charged with maintaining the communications network for the biggest base in Iraq.
In 2011, after being inspired by NFL cheerleaders who were entertaining troops during her tour, Welter tried out for the team.