New Miss USA Is Army Officer
DC's Deshauna Barber will take a break from the Reserve
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 6, 2016 12:23 AM CDT
Finalists Miss Hawaii Chelsea Hardin, center, Miss District of Columbia Deshauna Barber, right, and Miss Georgia Emanii Davis, left, wait for the final results.   (Jason Ogulnik)
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(Newser) – The newly crowned Miss USA is a 26-year-old Army officer from the District of Columbia who gave perhaps the strongest answer of the night when asked about women in combat. "As a woman in the United States Army, I think ... we are just as tough as men. As a commander of my unit, I'm powerful, I am dedicated," Deshauna Barber said. "Gender does not limit us in the United States." Barber is the first-ever military member to win Miss USA, the AP reports. In a press conference following the event, the lieutenant from Northeast, DC, said she plans to take a break from the Army Reserve and had already discussed with superiors the possibility of going inactive for a couple of years should she win the title. She said she currently serves two days per month.

"My commander should be watching right now," Barber said. "Two days a month is definitely not active duty. It is an obligation that I signed up for, but they are very flexible in the United States Army Reserves." Barber said she plans to use the pageant's spotlight and her title to support veterans' causes and tackle the issue of suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder among military members. When asked what message she had for the presidential candidates—including former pageant owner Donald Trump—Barber said they should focus more on veterans' issues, including the backlog at veterans hospitals. (Trump ended up skipping last year's pageant to deal with campaign business.)
 

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