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Local Woman Competing for Miss Veteran America

Updated: Wednesday, May 28 2014, 12:54 PM CDT
Homelessness is a very real issue for thousands of our nation's military veterans.
That's why one Central Illinois soldier is fighting for change to get homeless female vets off the streets.
"We don't want our women vets on the street," said Sgt. Katie Jo Williams.
Williams says the issue is a major problem.
"When
these females come home, if they're injured, or if mentally they're
just not prepared to deal with civilian lifestyle again, they can go
through this big tornado of just stuff happening to them and eventually
just go down the drain and just kind of stay there," said Williams.
But she found an opportunity to help raise awareness.
"In
January I got sent a link to this thing called the Miss Veteran America
competition, and i was like, well this seems interesting," Williams
said.
That's when she decided to trade in her combat boots for high heels. 
"If
I win, I do get the winning prizes, the crown, and the sash, but I get
to go on a lot of speaking tours. They travel around the country and
they talk to homeless female vets," Williams said.
Williams says talking to the homeless is something people rarely do.
"How
many homeless people do we pass on the street that we don't even
acknowledge? We don't even see them. Well, we see them, but we pretend
not to. I think it's sad that humanity has lost that much compassion,"
Williams said.
As a soldier herself, Williams understands the challenge of serving in the military as a woman.
She enlisted in the Army National Guard on her 17th birthday, and was deployed to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009.
Now Williams works as a recruiter for the Illinois National Guard.
"My grandpa was in the Army and he was also in the Navy. He died when I was six so he was my big inspiration."
Now William's friends are supporting her as she strives to reach a different goal...becoming the next Miss Veteran America.
"I
think she's going to win it. She's awesome at everything she does. She
doesn't settle for anything less than the best," said friend Cristopher
Melton.
For Williams, the best means serving as an inspiration for others.
"I
know there are people out there worse off than me and I want to meet
those people and tell them they can still make it," Williams said.
She heads to Arlingtion, Virginia on June 8 to compete for the Miss Veteran America regional competition.
Contestants will be narrowed down to 25 finalists who will then go on to compete for the title in Las Vegas.



Local Woman Competing for Miss Veteran America


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