When I picture a professional cheerleader or a female soldier, I never imagine them as the same person. There are basic characteristics, values, and skills that apply to the different jobs that are so mutually exclusive it is hard to fathom any overlap. Rachel Washburn destroyed the stereotypes attached to both identities when she flawlessly transitioned from being a cheerleader to a soldier. After graduating college, a time during which she cheered for the Eagles, Washburn dedicated her life to defending freedom and serving our country. Now that’s a TSM. In a world of Mileys and Amandas, Rachel Washburn has finally given us a real role model to look up to.
Washburn is a real life Military Barbie. At age 25, the former Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader is now a First Lieutenant in the United States Army. She has served two tours in Afghanistan — one of which she spent as a member of the Army’s new Cultural Support Program — since trading in her pompoms for an M4 carbine. During this time she accompanied special operations teams to search for, safely secure, and talk to women and children in the area of a mission. On her most recent tour she was the leader of an intelligence platoon, which sounds a lot like being rush chair.
Though Rachel’s time as an NFL cheerleader may not have prepared her to help deliver a baby in a snowstorm (one of her many trying experiences during her first tour), it did provide her with many wonderful memories that helped her cope with the stress being overseas.
The Eagles recognized Rachel this past Sunday as a Hometown Hero during halftime at their game against the Chicago Bears. Her father, a former pilot for both the Army and the Air Force, nominated her for the award. Though she was being honored for her time in the military, while accepting her award Rachel spoke of her pride in the Eagles cheerleaders: “We’re all beautiful women…but also, we are incredibly involved in the community, which is something that I am incredibly proud of.” TSM.