For the first time in the pageant’s history, the Miss USA crown was awarded to an American service member.
Meet Deshauna Barber, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves and a logistics commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit at Fort Meade, Md. She also works as an IT analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce. Her win marks the first time in 14 years a Miss District of Columbia won the Miss USA title, and the third time overall.
In an interview before the event, Barber said military service was a family tradition. Her father was deployed to Iraq after the September 11 attacks, and she enlisted in the Army herself at age 17.
During the question and answer portion of the pageant, judge Joe Zee asked Barber about a controversial military topic.
“The Pentagon recently made the decision to open up all combat jobs to women,” Zee said. “Now, some have questioned whether this has put political correctness over our military’s ability to perform at the highest level. What are your thoughts?”
Barber’s answer clinched her the crown.
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.
As Miss USA, Barber will represent the United States in the Miss Universe contest. She will unfortunately be taking a break from her military career during her year-long tenure as Miss USA. During that time, she hopes to bring attention to veterans issues and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Watch this extraordinary Army officer deliver her show-stopping response and get her crown.