U.S. Senator Martha McSally, a freshman Republican from Arizona, wasn’t always a lawmaker. Prior to 2010, she was a war-fighter, completing combat deployments at the stick of the close-air support legend A-10 Thunderbolt II, before going on to command a combat aviation squadron that included both fighter and bomber elements. In both circumstances, McSally made history, initially as the first female pilot to fly in combat, and second, as the first female commander of such a squadron. No one could contend McSally is a stranger to difficult circumstances.

“On my last rocket pass, my heads-up display failed with all of our computerized weapons sights,” McSally recounted in 2006 about one particular engagement. “I had to rely on the very archaic backup called ‘standby pipper,’ which was a hard sight. I needed to quickly get ready to shoot the gun manually, where I had to be at an exact dive angle, airspeed, and altitude when opening fire in order to be accurate.”

“We destroyed the enemy on several passes. We train for this type of malfunction, but I never would have imagined shooting the gun in standby pipper in combat like this.”

This week, McSally made history again. During a hearing held by a subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the topic of sexual assault in the military, McSally chose to reveal that she too was a victim of sexual assault during her time in uniform.