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NEWS | Feb. 15, 2018

Miss USA says ‘Salute to the Armed Forces’ is more than just a slogan

By Frances Seybold USARC

Miss USA 2016 and United States Army Reserve Capt. Deshauna Barber was welcomed as the keynote speaker for the annual Prince William County Chamber of Commerce Veterans Council Salute to the Armed Forces. The event was held at The Clubs at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., on Jan 23, 2018.

Barber spoke of the responsibility civilians have to the 1 percent—the military men and women who sacrificed and continue to sacrifice themselves for their country.

According to Barber, in an industry where Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, mental illness, unemployment, suicide and Veteran Affairs (VA) backlog are rarely discussed, she used her platform to invoke change and give people a kick in the right direction because it was her responsibility.

“I got tired of talking about lipstick and the red carpets,” Barber said. “I wanted to force the conversation.”
She said her responsibility was to eliminate the disconnect between those who have no ties to the military by talking about more than 220,000 unemployed veterans, the 39,400 homeless veterans, the 20 veterans who commit suicide a day and thousands of veterans awaiting treatment from VA.

“Military platforms are more than slogans, but a call to action to put your feet on the ground,” Barber said.
Barber believes by talking with employers and community officials about these platforms true change can occur.
PWCC boasts the representation of more than 70,000 employees and promotes collaboration with other organizations that educate, train, mentor and provide opportunities for veteran employment. 

However, where the lunch was a representation of how far PWCC has come in helping veterans and their families find employment, it was also a reminder of how far they have left to go.

According to the United States Department of Labor – Veterans Employment and Training Services, this past December marked the lowest national veteran unemployment rate in more than a decade at less than 4 percent.
For more information about PWCC Veterans Council, meetings are held the second Thursday, monthly, 9–10 a.m., at the Prince William Chamber Headquarters.