While many civilians will be moved by the patriotic messages in veteran political candidates’ advertisements, many veterans will be thinking, “Oh boy, here comes the ‘I served’ campaign ads again.”
A female Air Force veteran and author from Austin, Texas, is running for Texas’ 31st Congressional District, banking heavily on her distinguished service while coming up a little light on her own candidate platform page.
A former USAF helicopter pilot who was shot down over Afghanistan, Mary Jennings Hegar has taken to the Democratic Party ticket in an effort to oust Republican incumbent John Carter from the control of the Austin-area seat- which just so happens to include Fort Hood.
In a new video that has been deemed by the Washington Post as “one [of] the best ads — and most effective opponent attacks — you’ll see in 2018,” Hegar describes how she rose through the US Air Force, eventually flying helicopters with the California Air National Guard and conducting Combat Search & Rescue missions in Afghanistan.
In 2009, Hegar was wounded after being shot down during a Medevac mission. When two Army OH-58D helicopters came to the rescue, she reportedly strapped herself to the skids of one of the Kiowas and laid down suppression with her carbine as they departed. In lieu of her actions during the mission, she became the second woman to earn the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device.
In 2012, Hegar filed a suit against the US Secretary of Defense, asserting that the policies excluding women from combat were unconstitutional. By 2013, the policy had been repealed, though it is uncertain whether or not Hegar had a direct impact on the issue.
In March of 2017, Hegar published Shoot Like A Girl, the movie rights of which have been reportedly optioned by TriStar, with Angelina Jolie eyeing the leading role.
As for politics? The waters become a little murky.
In her “doors” ad (which references both metaphorical and literal doors in her life, all to a license-friendly instrumental of “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones), Hegar attacks Rep. Carter, claiming that Carter did not want to hear out her argument for women in combat because she was not a donor to his campaign.
Formerly a Republican for her entire life, Hegar made a sudden switch to the Democratic Party and decided to run against Carter.
While the ad is well-produced, it seems to reflect the campaign tactics of other veteran candidates -such as Florida Republican Representative Brian Mast- who seem to emphasize their veteran status more than their stances on “the issues.”
Not unlike Mast, Hegar’s ad focuses on her position as a distinguished veteran rather than on her platform, which -as seen on her political campaign site- is vague at best, giving a paragraph for each position that doesn’t really address any issues outright.
Given the largely conservative voter base in Texas outside of Austin (as well as the fact that Fort Hood was recently added to the district), it’s possible Hegar’s vague stances may be deliberate- any further specification may cost her votes with both Democrats and Republicans, respectively.
There is no denying that Hegar is a bona-fide war hero, who went above and beyond the call of duty to perform her tasks, accomplishing both professional and personal milestones. That much can be seen clearly in her video. What she actually stands for in terms of politics, however, remains to be sorely under-addressed and in need of clarification.
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