On Sunday night, in front of millions of viewers, Deshauna Barber, Miss District of Columbia, was crowned Miss USA. Barber is only the third winner from the District of Columbia, and the first-ever military service member to take home the coveted crown.
Barber is not just breaking barriers because of her skin, or because she’s also in the military. It’s what she’s fighting for that makes her so awesome.
“I am ready to break the stereotype for female soldiers and bust through the pageantry glass ceiling that has been laid over the heads of this industry,” she wrote on Instagram before the competition. “Time to show that we as women are versatile, strong and can be anything we set our minds to!”
Barber ran her Miss USA campaign with a focus on helping veterans fight Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when they return from war.
“It’s so important, I know that when veterans and soldiers return from being deployed, sometimes they have those hidden scars that aren’t necessarily physical,” Barber said in an interview with Fox 5 D.C. “And I think it’s important to make sure that they have the resources they need to get through PTSD, to get through those mental battles.”
About 7 or 8 out of every 100 people (or 7-8% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
About 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year. This is only a small portion of those who have gone through a trauma.
About 10 of every 100 (or 10%) of women develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 (or 4%) of men.
In the military, the numbers are even higher. According to Veteran Affairs:
Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF): About 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans (or between 11-20%) who served in OIF or OEF have PTSD in a given year.
Gulf War (Desert Storm): About 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans (or 12%) have PTSD in a given year.
Vietnam War: About 15 out of every 100 Vietnam Veterans (or 15%) were currently diagnosed with PTSD at the time of the most recent study in the late 1980s, the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS). It is estimated that about 30 out of every 100 (or 30%) of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime.
As Logistics Commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit at Fort Meade, Md., Barber was uniquely qualified to answer the judges’ question about whether women should serve at all levels of the military. “We are just as tough as men,” she said. “As a commander of my unit…