Pageant benefits homeless female vets

Tuomey tech, drill sergeant will compete

BY IVY MOORE
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 5/16/18

Bryanna Smith is a busy woman. She works as a histology technician at Palmetto Health Tuomey, serves as a U.S. Army drill sergeant at Fort Jackson, and she's a mom. Add to that her preparation for participating in the Ms. Veteran America 2018 …

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Pageant benefits homeless female vets

Tuomey tech, drill sergeant will compete

Posted

Bryanna Smith is a busy woman. She works as a histology technician at Palmetto Health Tuomey, serves as a U.S. Army drill sergeant at Fort Jackson, and she's a mom. Add to that her preparation for participating in the Ms. Veteran America 2018 Competition in June.

She's used to having a full load of responsibilities, Smith said.

She worked as a medical specialist in Infectious Disease and Blood Support during her 2014 deployment in Afghanistan - all of the blood and blood products in that country were her responsibility.

While she speaks with some humor of her pageant competition, Smith sees it as an important responsibility. She is passionate about representing women in the armed services.

"This is my first pageant. I had to work up to the task of competing," Smith said. "I have to be able to represent drill sergeants and the Army as a whole; every branch of the service competes."

It's worth all the work and time she's putting into preparation, she said.

The competition, she said, "has more to do with how you help military women in the coming years. Let's see how we can represent females."

That said, Smith noted that many of the areas in which she'll be judged are similar to those in other pageants.

"There is an interview relating to things plaguing our vets, like the V.A. (Veterans Administration), PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)," she said. "We also compete in a physical competition -strength and agility."

For her talent competition, Smith said she will demonstrate her skill in advanced "'rifling,' It's like a drill, or drill ceremony. There are a lot of different maneuvers."

She laughed. "I can't sing or dance. Right now, I'm practicing walking in heels instead of combat boots."

Smith said she was drawn to the Ms. Veteran America Competition because its purpose is to encourage women to support each other and because it highlights attributes beyond the strength, courage and sacrifice of military women - "These women are mothers, daughters, sisters and wives," the MVA mission states.

"There are more than 50,000 homeless female veterans in the U.S., most with kids," Smith said. "They're the fastest-growing segment of the population. A lot of them don't think they deserve anything for their service and sacrifice.

"It only costs $25 to put homeless female vets and their families" in secure housing for one day, she said.

Smith has already raised funds for several months' housing.

"We need to find a solution to this problem," she said. "The competition is built around this."

Smith will compete in June in Arlington, Virginia, where she will be scored and ranked on her interview, talent, military history and advocacy. The scoring criteria include grace, poise, confidence and personality, and the judges also consider contestants' activity, interaction and participation during the competition.

For more information, visit www.finalsaluteinc.org.