The newly-crowned Miss USA, Deshauna Barber, is the first-ever military member to win the title. The 26-year-old Army Reserve lieutenant from Northeast Washington, D.C., said she plans to take a brake from military service and wants to use the pageant’s spotlight and her title to support veteran’s causes and take on the issues of suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder among military members.
“As a woman in the United States Army, I think…we are just as tough as men,” Barber said. “Gender does not limit us in the United States.”
Barber, the seventh African American to don the Miss USA crown, will go on to compete in the Miss Universe contest in September. Barber downplayed her military service, noting that her two-day-a-month hitch is “…definitely not active duty” noting that as a commander in her unit she was “powerful and dedicated.”
When asked what message she had for the presidential candidates–including former pageant owner and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump–Barber said they should focus more on veteran’s issues, including the backlog at veteran’s hospitals.
Previous Black Miss USA winners include: Crystle Stewart (2008), Rachel Smith (2007), Shauntay Hinton (2002), Chelsi Smith (1995), Kenya Moore (1993) and Carole Gist (1990).