21-year veteran set to represent South Dakota at Ms. Veteran America in October

Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 6:13 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - I’m sure you’ve heard of pageants, Miss USA, Miss United States, Miss America but what about the Ms. Veteran America competition?

“The Ms. Veteran America competition was started in 2012 by a non-profit organization called Final Salute. Final Salute’s mission since 2010 has been to provide safe and suitable housing to homeless Women Veterans and their children across the country. The founder of Final Salute, Jas Booth, started the Ms. Veteran America competition as a way to try to draw national attention to the issue of homeless female veterans and from there it just took off. It is open to all women veterans, regardless of age, branch of service or length of service. The really cool part is that all the women competing are all doing it for charity. We are all out there advocating and raising money for other female veterans that maybe weren’t as lucky as we were when they came home or separated from the service,” said Katie Harrington, South Dakota’s representative for the 2022 Ms. Veteran America competition. “I had heard of Ms. Veteran America a couple of years ago but I honestly just didn’t think it was something that I would be able to do. It was so outside of my comfort zone. The more I read about homelessness among veterans and the more I researched about what these women veterans specifically were going through, I really wanted to find a way to help.”

Katie has been serving in the military for the past 21 years, between Active Duty and National Guard. She’s deployed multiple times to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The national competition is October 30th in Orlando, Florida.

“It’s very similar to a Miss America or Miss USA competition,” said Katie. “There is an interview, evening wear, activewear, talent and we added a pushup contest, of course. We are evaluated on our advocacy efforts, our knowledge of military history, overall community involvement, and just whole-person concept. The best part of the entire competition has really been the support from everyone that I’ve come in contact with. South Dakota is the best state in the nation for Veterans and I’ve never seen it more than since this started. Every business, every organization that I’ve approached has jumped in and asked how they could help. I’m a member of the American Legion and the VFW and they’ve both made substantial donations. Also just interacting with all the girls competing, we have become so close and at the end of the day, you want them to win because you know they would do an amazing job and that’s the spirt of this competition.”