This year’s Miss Virginia Courtney Lynne Smits is also a proud troop.
She is a 5th generation member of the military and 22 years-old. She is serving as a psychological operations specialist in the Reserves. One of her passions is all about letting people know who needs help, specifically veterans.
When she was ten she started her own organization called Queens for Courage. Now with five years of military experience, she is an advocate for eliminating veterans/service member suicides, and advocates for better mental health for troops.
She told fox news, “My great-grandfather, in particular, fought in WWII — that was something very prevalent in his generation. But it allowed my grandfather and his brothers to see the kind of change that it made for their family, so it continued on after that. Both of my parents didn’t grow up in the most privileged households. My mom and my dad joined the Army… they probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to college… The military gave them the opportunity to travel the world, get an education, and pursue a better life for our families.”
And when asked how much of an impact veteran suicides had on her she said, ” It changed my life. There has been more than one incident. The veteran suicide rate right now is astronomical. Twenty-two veterans a day commit suicide. My very close personal mentor was the first one I experienced. And I think that’s what really pushed me to… help work and lower the rate of veteran suicides. It gave me a whole new perspective. It’s something that everyone talks about, everyone hears about it, but we don’t really talk about the main issue, the root causes and what’s behind the scenes. This really gave me the chance to dig deeper and figure out what’s exactly going on. And that in itself has been an incredible journey to see how much my brothers and sisters in arms don’t feel safe after coming home from a war zone. That’s something that needs to change.”