For the first time in 14 years (and only third time in history), Miss District of Columbia took home the crown at the Miss USA pageant on Sunday night.
Deshauna Barber, a 26-year-old Army officer and IT analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce, won first place over Miss Georgia Emanii Davis and Miss Hawaii Chelsea Hardin, the runner-up.
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.”
The winner of Sunday’s 2016 Miss USA competition held at the T-Mobile Arena off the Las Vegas Strip will go on to compete in the Miss Universe contest.
Barber is the first-ever military member to win Miss USA. In a press conference following the event, the 26-year-old 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 veteran’s 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 and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump — Barber said they should focus more on veteran’s issues, including the backlog at veterans hospitals.
Congratulations LT! Now go finish your damn 350-1!