meet MJ

Air Force veteran. Author. Advocate. Mom. Democratic Candidate for Congressional District 31. Learn more about MJ Hegar.

A product of District 31

This is my home. I was raised in Leander/Cedar Park from the age of seven, graduated from Leander High School, and then went on to attend The University of Texas at Austin. From a young age, I showed a desire to serve my peers by pursuing leadership positions. From Class President to cheerleader, mascot, band member, varsity tennis player, and President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, I have always been proud to represent my team.

US Air Force Combat Search and Rescue Helicopter Pilot

From the time I saw Han Solo navigate the asteroid field in Star Wars, I wanted to be a combat pilot. The insurmountable odds involved in making that a reality only motivated me to charge ahead and show that it was possible. After three tours in Afghanistan as a rescue helicopter pilot, being shot down by enemy fire, defending my crew and patients, and earning a Purple Heart, I returned home to embark on another “impossible” mission.

Spearheading real change in Washington D.C. since 2012

After I proved myself in combat, I engaged in another battle at home: partnering with the ACLU to open all military jobs to women. I spent four years traveling back and forth from District 31 to Washington D.C., leading the charge to ensure all jobs in the military are open for competition to both men and women without compromising standards. The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously concurred with our request, and the Secretary of Defense repealed the unconstitutional Ground Combat Exclusion Policy.

Advocating for families and protecting our children’s future

I am the proud mom of two precocious kids, ages 2 and 6 months, and three amazingly resilient and smart stepkids, ages 16, 10, and 8. All of my kids instill in me my greatest sense of pride and determination. I aspire to leave them a world in which they can breathe clean air, love whomever they want, choose what God they believe in, and safely express who they are. My husband, Brandon, is an extraordinary partner, and together we’re raising our family in District 31, where we first met at age 7.

Applying my experience to make an impact

I believe it’s my calling and responsibility to share my experiences, both those in Afghanistan and at home, with a broader audience. That’s why I currently speak around the world about civil rights, leadership, and how to be an effective change agent on a global level. I wholeheartedly believe in the ability of everyday people to protect our progress, whether by running for office, getting out and voting, or volunteering in our community.

Awards & Achievements

  • TS/SCI Top Secret Security Clearance

  • One of Newsweek magazine’s 125 Women of Impact, 2012

  • Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device

  • Honorary PhD in Public Affairs from Merrimack College

  • Austin Toastmasters Communicator of the Year

  • Purple Heart for wounds sustained in combat

  • Executive MBA from The University of Texas

  • Aviator of the Year, California Air National Guard

  • One of Foreign Policymagazine’s Leading Global Thinkers, 2013

  • Graduate, Leadership Austin Essential

  • Expert Marksman, handgun and rifle

  • Board of Directors, Texas Advocacy Project

  • SafePlace volunteer