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Dana Stevens on MJ Hegar

“She changed the world for a lot of women.”

Shot and wounded, pilot MJ HEGAR clung to a helicopter landing skid mid-flight while firing at the enemy in Afghanistan, defending and saving her crew and three injured troops. She received the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device, but was later denied a combat job because she was female. Her name goes down in history for defeating the Air Force Combat Exclusion Policy for women. DANA STEVENS lets us know about the brave, persistent MJ Hegar - warrior, wife, mother, politician, fighter for justice. This is one gal you have got to know about!

Storyteller

Dana Stevens

Dana was raised in Phoenix, Arizona and received her BA in Theater Arts at UCLA. After some years as an actress, she turned to writing, and her produced film credits include “Safe Haven,” directed by Lasse Hallstrom, “City of Angels,” starring Nicolas Cage, “For Love of the Game,” directed by Sam Raimi, “Blink,” directed by Michael Apted and “Life or Something Like It,” starring Angelina Jolie. Dana has also created and produced 37 episodes of television. She is a frequent advisor at the Sundance Labs and has mentored many acclaimed filmmakers. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the Writers Branch at the Academy.

Featured Woman

Mary Jennings "MJ" Hegar

As a kid, Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar knew she could do anything if she just kept at it! She joined the Marines and while on a search and rescue mission, was shot down. Quickly moving to another helicopter, she hung from the landing skid, fired at the enemy, protected her crew and three other wounded survivors. After getting the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device, MJ applied for a job as an eyes-on-the-ground helicopter pilot. She was told those jobs went to combat veterans, who were only men at the time, which led to her decision to retire from the military. MJ later spoke on behalf of the military women who’d suffered the same demoralizing fate as part of The Hegar, et al, v Panetta suit, which reversed the Combat Exclusion policy and allowed women to serve in combat positions. As of 2020 MJ is running for the federal Senate seat from Texas as a Democrat.