In Rapid City at Legacy Commons Park at the Veterans Memorial, Anya Mueller was joined by the South Dakota representative for Miss Veteran America Katie Harrington.
“I was born and raised in California. I actually joined the military after 9/11. I was in college and the events of that day had a big impact on my life. So I joined, I spent the last 21 years serving and I currently serve in the South Dakota Army National Guard.”
Katie then explained what she participates in.
“So the Miss Veteran America competition started 12 years ago by a nonprofit organization called Final Salute. It was started as a way to raise awareness of female homeless veterans that were on the rise throughout the country. Statistically, female veterans are the fastest rising homeless population in the U.S.”
The founder of the nonprofit, Jas Boothe, started the competition as a way for other female veterans to take care of their own and to give back to the community.
“I just felt like I have been so blessed, and every time I come home, I just have a great support system around me. Every time I deploy, my husband was a veteran, my dad was a veteran, and I was really shocked to learn that other women were struggling, single moms, women that had deployed, women that had served their country were struggling with some issues back home. And I really wanted to find a way to give back.”
On top of serving for 21 years, Katie served four tours to Iraq and two to Afghanistan.
She also believes that she is the first representative from South Dakota to represent the state.
“I believe I am the first one from South Dakota to make it this far to the top 25 finalists. Hundreds of women apply every year. We’ve been competing since January. The really cool part is that it is all for charity. So all the money we raise goes to final salute. All the money from the ticket sales goes to final salute. And it’s just a great way to get involved and to give back to the community.”
According to Katie, the Miss Veteran America is very similar to the Miss America competition.
“We do an interview portion, we do an evening gown, an active wear, we do a talent portion. And then instead of like a bathing suit, we do a pushup competition, which I think I have in the bag. I’m, you know, being Army.
The competition takes place in Orlando on October 30, and people come from around the country to watch it.
“Follow me on social media, it’s katieh4mva2022 on Instagram and Facebook or you can go to finalsaluteinc.org and you can read about the organization and how you can help our female veterans.”