Deshauna Barber

Miss USA 2016 Deshauna Barber appears on the “Fox & friends” television program in New York, Wednesday, June 8, 2016. The newly crowned Miss USA is a 26-year-old Army officer from the District of Columbia. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Deshuana Barber, the recently crowned Miss USA,  not only exemplifies patriotism through her service in the Army Reserve, but also through her willingness to serve others.

“I think that it is important not necessarily to serve in the military, but to provide some sort of service to the country, because the military is not for everybody” she told the AFRO in a June 17 phone interview.

The 26-year-old’s advocacy of service does not put her in favor of initiating the draft for women or men, in response to the possibility raised by a June 14 U.S. Senate vote that approved a defense bill, 85-13, that included an amendment that would require women to register for the selective service, according to news reports.

“I actually don’t think that anyone should be required to enter the draft,” she said. “Only because I think that, especially my service to the military, it was a choice.”

Coming from a military household where both her mother and father served in the Armed Forces, one of Barber’s top initiatives as Miss USA is to create awareness for veteran’s issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).

“I’m bringing awareness to this issue,” she said. “I’m pushing families and friends that have soldiers returning from deployment to make sure that they pay attention to the soldier, that they recognize certain signs that the soldier may be suffering from PTSD that the soldier might be having an issue acclimating themselves back into state side activities.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that there are anywhere from 11 percent to 30 percent of veterans suffering from PTSD, but the number can vary by gender or service area. PTSD caused by sexual assault or harassment can vary anywhere from 23 percent to 38 percent among veterans, according to the data.

Winning the crown on June 5 in Las Vegas, Nevada, made Barber the ninth Black woman to win the Miss USA pageant since 1990 and the second Black woman from D.C., according to pageantnews.com.

Barber is a Quartermaster Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve who was stationed in Washington D.C. She joined the Army at the age of 17.

Even though Barber was employed with the U.S. Department of Commerce in D.C., she recently resigned to fulfill her duties as Miss USA, but she will continue her service with the Army Reserve.  According to missuniverse.com, Barber is the first active duty soldier to win the Miss USA title.

She is currently stationed in New York where she said she is preparing to “master every single category” for the Miss Universe pageant, including nutrition, fashion, fitness and the interview.

“I really didn’t get that girly side or that girly aspect of my childhood, so pageants really intrigued me — the makeup, the hair styles, the dresses,” she said.  “It really allowed me to get in touch with that feminine side that I really didn’t get a chance to grow up with or have it instilled with my childhood. I love pageants because it gives me the chance to feel like a woman.”

LaTrina Antoine

Special to the AFRO

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