The 2016 Miss USA pageant aired from Las Vegas on Sunday evening, and this year the crown went to Miss District of Columbia, 26-year-old Army officer Deshauna Barber.
This win was about more than just bikinis and evening gowns. According to her profile, Barber is an IT analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as a logistics commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit at Fort Meade, Maryland.
During the question and answer portion of the contest, judge Joe Zee asked Barber to comment on the Pentagon's recent decision to open all military combat positions to women. No softballs here. Barber gave the following response:
"As a woman in the United States Army, I think it was an amazing job by our government to allow women to integrate to every branch of the military. We are just as tough as men. As a commander of my unit, I am powerful. I am dedicated. And it is important that we recognize that gender does not limit us in the United States Army."
Barber's powerful statement was met with roaring applause from the audience. Watch her deliver the answer in the video below:
Barber's platform is focused on PTSD treatment and suicide prevention among soldiers returning from deployment. She spoke about this in an interview after her win, even sharing the personal connection she has to the cause:
"My best friend is currently deployed in Afghanistan right now, and I want to make sure that when she comes back, she has the resources that she needs to heal any internal, mental scars that she has from combat and things that have affected her overseas."
Hear Barber share her thoughts below:
Barber will go on to compete in the Miss Universe competition later this year. We can't wait to hear what more she has to share.
(H/T: Huffington Post)