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Local wins 'Ms. Veteran America'
The contestants are judged on poise, beauty and service.
But they don't like to call it a pageant.
Channel Three's Laura Hussey tells us about "Ms. Veteran America" and the local soldier who holds the title.
Laura Hussey: "When you walk into the U.S. Army Recruiting Office in Crestview, you'll see soldiers dressed in their army combat uniforms. What you might now know is one of them has also worn a crown."
Here she is, Ms. Veteran America. After thirteen years as a very squared-away soldier, Staff Sergeant Allaina Guitron has taken on a role she never expected....beauty queen.
SSG Guitron: "How do I even walk down a stage, how do I do that? How do I look nice in heels, I'm used to wearing combat boots"
Sergeant Guitron was never interested in pageants. What drew her to this competition was its platform....a partnership with an organization called final salute, that helps homeless female veterans. She says there are an estimated 55 thousand, half of them single mothers.
SSG Guitron: "Most people associate homelessness with yeah, the guy that's out there that looks like a homeless man. But they don't ever associate a female, specifically a female veteran, that doesn't happen on American soil. No, the VA's doing something about that, right? Not all the time"
The empathy isn't just professional. The smiling soldier behind the crown spent a lot of time in foster homes. Her mother was in and out of homeless shelters.
SSG Guitron: "Going to visit her, trying to find where whe was on numerous occasions, that was always really difficult, cause you don't know where she's at, if she's even alive"
Guitron says the challenges that made her strong. Her service has taken her to the White House, working under two presidents. And now it's giving her a chance to speak out for her sisters in arms.
SSG Guitron: "I'm already a part of the army. I'm already a soldier, but then to do something above and beyond that, is more than I could ever ask for"
Laura Hussey: "If you'd like to meet Staff Sergeant Guitron in person and you're not quite sure you're ready to sign up yet, she is the Grand Marshal of the Fisher House 5k coming up March 1st."