By Debbie Gregory.
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
Newly crowned Miss USA, Deshauna Barber, 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,” Barber said. “Gender does not limit us in the United States.”
A Logistics Commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit at Fort Meade, MD, Barber was uniquely qualified to answer the judges’ question. Barber is the first-ever military member to win Miss USA.
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.
“Making sure they have what they need when they return from deployment,” she said when asked what she was most excited about after winning. “My best friend is currently deployed in Afghanistan and I want to make sure when she comes back, she has the resources she needs to heal any internal mental scars she has.”
The 26-year-old lieutenant said she plans to take a break from the Army Reserves, a move she had previously discussed with her superiors, should she win the title.
“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, who graduated from Virginia State University in 2011, joined the military at age 17. Her parents and siblings also serve; her father was deployed overseas to Iraq after the Sept. 11 attacks.
On the subject of military service, Barber said, “It’s something that runs through our veins — patriotism and service for this country.”
The new Miss USA was not all business though. When asked about her favorite part of the process, Barber said, “Swimsuit was probably my favorite part; I worked hard on this body.”