In recognition of Women’s History Month and International Women’s day, The Purple Heart Foundation is featuring amazing women veteran’s accomplishments today and throughout history. Throughout history, women’s voices have been unheard. Today’s featured female veteran decided to raise her voice for what she was passionate about, and she’s been doing so since she was only 12 yrs old.
At 12yrs old, most kids don’t actually know what they want to be when they grow up. But a young Kentucky girl knew exactly what was in store for her future. Amy McGrath had a passion for fighter jets, a passion that she would pursue, even in the face of adversity, according to her biography. The obstacle Amy faced in her youth was the U.S. law prohibiting women from serving in combat roles. So from a young age, Amy took it upon herself to encourage change. Amy wrote to her local congressmen, but they paid no heed to her advocacy to remove this restriction on women in the military. So, Amy reached out to the Congressional Armed Services Committees, hoping to find like-minded individuals that believed in her cause and had the political power and position to make a difference. She received positive feedback but it wasn’t until 1997 when the law was lifted during Bill Clinton’s 1st year of re-election. This lead to Amy’s acceptance at the US Naval Academy where she would play varsity for the 1st Navy Women’s Soccer Team, graduate as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps with a Bachelor’s in Political Science, and commision right out of flight school as an F/A-18D Hornet Weapons Systems Officer stationed in CA.
Thanks to her advocacy in her youth, Lt. Col. Amy McGrath became the 1st woman to fly an F-18 in combat! Throughout her 20 yr military career, Amy McGrath (call sign “Krusty”) flew approx. 2,000 flight hours, flying 89 combat missions between 2 tours in Afghanistan and 1 in Iraq. She earned medals for Meritorious Service, Navy/Marine Corps Commendation, Navy Achievement, 2 Afghan Campaigns and 1 Iraqi Campaign as well as 8 Strike Flight Air Medals and a Presidential Unit Citation.
Amy later spent some time in the political arena working for the Marine Corps Fellow program at Capitol Hill as a defense and policy affairs advisor to Rep. Susan Davis and as a Marine Corps liaison at the Pentagon. Amy McGrath stated in an interview with Ella Nilsen that her “last assignment was teaching at the US Naval Academy…teaching them government and teaching them elections. Trying to explain to them they are representing a country that is a democracy, led by people of integrity and courage”, but she thought about the 2016 elections and that “it’s no secret that we have been divided as a nation, that our politics are polarized”. This realization lead to Amy’s most recent career change. In 2017, after 20yrs of service, Amy McGrath retired from the Marine Corps but continues her public service to this country by running for political office as the Democratic candidate for Kentucky’s 6th District congressional seat! The seat is currently occupied by Republican, Andy Barr, but Amy believes she has the upperhand during this election because “when you have a fresh face, somebody who’s not steeped in longstanding politics, someone who doesn’t have the baggage of internal politics…those things are a real advantage”. Amy’s campaign video proved people are looking for change by raising $200,000 within 36 hrs of being aired and over $800,000 in total campaign contributions, according to Ella Nilsen’s interview with McGrath. Amy plans to be the change maker the people are asking for.
This female veteran has made great strides for women, for the military, for the state of Kentucky and for her country. We at The Purple Heart Foundation applaud Amy’s efforts and other women like Amy McGrath who lead their life to create a better tomorrow for all of us. Amy’s voice helped make flying in combat possible for herself and all the women that have come after her. So remember the words of former President Barack Obama, “One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city… a state…a nation…the world. Your voice can change the world” so let your voice be heard.