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With: Nichole Alred, Jaspen Boothe, Rachel Engler, Hope Garcia, Denyse Gordon, Marissa Strock, Andrea Waterbury
Written by: Lysa Heslov, Tchavdar Georgiev
Directed by: Lysa Heslov
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 90
Date: 09/01/2017

Served Like a Girl (2017)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Women Warriors

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Despite a lack of polish, Lysa Heslov's documentary fully celebrates the courage of its chosen women, focusing more off the battlefield than on, and the result is a strong, teary, heartfelt group hug.

In Served Like a Girl, several female veterans of various branches of the military band together for the Ms. Veteran America competition. Regardless of the winner, the event itself is meant to raise awareness of the 55,000 female veterans in the United States that are homeless; many veteran services only help men and refuse aid to women. The women featured have all felt the horrible irony; after serving their country, they returned home to struggle with illness, poverty, homelessness, divorce, and many other problems, with no help — except from each other.

Served Like a Girl interviews Army veteran Jaspen Boothe, who founded the Ms. Veteran America competition, as well as its first winner, Air Force vet Denyse Gordon. It focuses on five new contestants for the 2015 crown, including Navy vet Hope Garcia, who suffered sexual assaults, was homeless, and shares her children with her ex-husband.

Army vet Marissa Strock lost her lower legs, but still loves shopping for shoes, even though she can't wear her favorites, sparkly high-heels. Navy vet Rachel Engler was a former NFL cheerleader and fell ill after her service, with a chronic neuromuscular illness, but continued with her love of dancing.

Heslov interviews the women in casual settings, the woman just hanging out in doorways or in kitchens, and no artificial "talking heads." In this way, Army vet Nichole Alred's mother, a strong supporter of her daughter, becomes a colorful character as well. All the women's stories can inspire outrage, but, at the same time, they are amazing, tragic, and awe-inspiring.

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