Women veterans honored at ‘Thank your Sheroes’ event

Mission Viejo Major Dave Leckness was a special guest. The panel included Norma King (U.S.A.F.), Rasheedah Shamsiddeen (U.S.A.F.), Linda Miles (U.S. Navy) and Elizabeth Tepe (U.S.M.C.). (Courtesy Adrian Michaels/Veteran's Office)

Mission Viejo Major Dave Leckness was a special guest. The panel included Norma King (U.S.A.F.), Rasheedah Shamsiddeen (U.S.A.F.), Linda Miles (U.S. Navy) and Elizabeth Tepe (U.S.M.C.). (Courtesy Adrian Michaels/Veteran’s Office)

McKenzie Sixt

Women veterans were honored during the “Thank Your Sheroes” at Saddleback College’s McKinney Theatre on Wednesday as part of Women in the Military History Week. Sheroes refers to the female heroes in the military. Their stories of strife, struggle, and steadfastness at war were told by a panel of women veterans who experienced the battlefields first hand. The event was presented by Associated Student Government and and the Veterans Education and Transition Services (VETs) Women Veterans Unity Group.

After the panel, the audience was entertained by nationally-recognized comedian Natasha Leggero to help celebrate Women’s History Month. (Courtesy Saddleback College ASG)

After the panel, the audience was entertained by nationally-recognized comedian Natasha Leggero to help celebrate Women’s History Month. (Courtesy Saddleback College ASG)

Following the panel, comedic performances added a lighthearted yet respectful following to the emotional stories.

Saddleback’s Justin Huft, 21, psychology and cultural anthropology, was the opening act for comedian, Natasha Leggero. Huft was shaking before his performance, but not from nerves, but because backstage Natasha called him charming.

“It was the best moment of my life,” Huft said.

Leggero is a regular on “Reno 911” and E!’s “Chelsea Lately.” She also had a role in “He’s Just Not That Into You,” along with many other comedic appearances.

Leggero succeeded Huft’s opener with jokes about pop culture, hip-hop music, and Hollywood.

The audience felt like a part of the show when she incorporated audience members into her act. She talked with guests and even held a beat-boxing competition on stage.

Although making fun of things is her job, her message to the women veterans in the audience was one of respect and appreciation. It showcased the women’s strength and abilities.

“Do women fight wars?” prompted Leggero, to which the front row of women veterans proudly exclaimed, “Yes! We fly planes and carry M16s.”

Laughter, cheers, and applause flowed from the audience throughout the performance. The mayor of Mission Viejo, Dave Leckness, Saddleback College’s President, Tod Burnett, and a handful of women veterans were all part of the celebrating audience.

The panel of women veterans created a scholarship to help their younger, fellow veterans. The proceeds from tickets and donations were put toward the scholarship.

“We raised a lot of money,” said Adrian Michaels, director of Veteran Affairs. “Enough to provide six women veterans with $500 each.”

The panel of women veterans chose the recipients of the scholarship.

There were donations given to the celebrated women veterans as well. Dr. Kouros Azar, a plastic surgeon, offered one free surgery to a woman veteran most in need of his services. The reconstructive surgery can help transform battle wounds, amputations, or disfigurement that veterans suffered on the front lines.

Azar’s profession keeps him from participating in military service, but donating a surgery was his way of “helping out from home,” he said.

“My goal is to help people,” Azar added.

Veteran’s Affairs is hoping to put on more week-long events for next year’s Women in the Military History Week.

“This was an excellent event,” Michaels said.

Next year will mark the second annual event and Michaels wants to work to make it more publicized and successful because the women veterans in the community and their military actions that are highly deserving of recognition.

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