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personal advice ● beyond the spotlight By Megan Alexander STAFF SARGEANT ALLAINA GUITRON Ms. Veteran America Allaina Guitron has served the United States in the Armed Services, and now that she is home, she is serving her fellow service- women with her title and crown S taff Sgt. Allaina Guitron is not used to wearing high heels and crowns. After a very difficult childhood, she joined the army at age 18, looking for a challenge, the opportunity to travel and see the world, and to find a home. She has achieved all of these goals, and now she is currently stationed at Fort Meade in Maryland. However, after 13 year in the Army, she discovered a severe lack of services for homeless female veterans, and it really bothered her. Naturally, she wanted to do something about it. Never thinking a pageant might be a stepping stone, a friend encouraged her to check out the Ms. Veteran Amer- ica program. She quickly learned that the pageant would benefit homeless female veterans and their families, and so she enlisted. On Oct 13th, 2013, out of 20 finalists, all with a military background, this 31-year old was crowned Ms. Veteran America, offering her the opportunity to focus and work on this new goal. And also that night, more than $90,000 was raised for the organization Final Salute, which benefits homeless female veterans. I was delighted to learn of this inspirational program and interview Allaina about her new title and her goals of service and aid that come with it. 96 PAGEANTRY PHOTOS BY THE UMBRELLA SYNDICATE A True Lady Liberty Megan Alexander: Tell me about the Ms. Veteran America organization. What is it all about? Allaina Guitron: Ms. Veteran America not only honors our service and sacrifice, but it also recognizes the roles we have as mothers, daughters, wives and sisters. Grace, beau- ty and poise are three things never associated with women who serve; however, underneath that camouflage is a beau- tiful woman. MA: Why did you decide to participate? AG: I felt compelled to run for Ms. Veteran America once I became aware of Final Salute and the 55,000 homeless women veterans that have gone unassisted on U.S. soil. MA: Military service and leadership are key compo- nents - explain these components and the remarkable women that are being honored. AG: More often than not, women veterans are the invisible warriors in the services. We are often looked at as though we don’t exist, when, in fact, women have been serving in every war since the Revolutionary War, but it’s only within the past 60-plus years that we have been formally recog- nized for our sacrifices. Ms. Veteran America honors the