This Weekend: Ms. Veteran America 2021 Semi-Finals
Holy smokes ya’ll! Semi-finals for Ms. Veteran America 2021 are in just FIVE DAYS! I’ve had since early March to prepare, but am I actually ready for this?!? The short answer is yes, but I am anxious and nervous and excited and feeling all of the emotions as it’s almost showtime.
Semi-Final rounds are virtual due to the unpredictability of what the COVID-19 guidelines would be. I’m not sure if doing this round via Zoom will work in my favor or sabotage me. Technology does tend to have it’s way with me more often than not, oh and Murphy too! I am just crossing my fingers that my WiFi doesn’t go out, and that my kids are behaved and quiet. I will have to totally bribe them with television and candy to sit quietly in the other room.
On Saturday I will be judged by a panel during the Interview portion, where I will have to demonstrate my competency in all things Final Salute, Inc., the Ms. Veteran America movement, women Veteran issues (specifically homelessness), and my ability to advocate. One thing I’m especially nervous about is being able to convince the judges that although I am *only* an enlisted E-5 (promotable!) Sergeant in the Army, I am completely capable of holding my own in professional settings and conversations. I am no stranger to working in positions and on projects well above my pay grade and beyond the general level of responsibility of a “buck Sergeant”. The last thing I want is to be considered as inexperienced right off the bat. I took a look at every former Queen’s bio and noticed many, not all, were prior service Commissioned Officers in their respective branch. The lowest *ranking* was a Staff Sergeant in 2013. Over my 8 years of service it has been suggested (too many times to count) to switch over and go for my Commission. It’s not something I haven’t considered heavily, and certainly not completely out of question, but I have my own personal reasons for remaining Enlisted as a Non-Commissioned Officer for now. For example- back in February I was chosen to propose my ideas for change in the way the Army handles cases of sexual misconduct in an effort to work towards eliminating it from within the ranks. I had to brief the Commanding General of the XVIIIth Airborne Corps and members of The People First Task Force. I was the lowest ranking member to appear in front of the panel, and have effectively inspired change in policy at the Corps level, that is now being considered Army wide. I realized during this experience that there was something a little more intriguing and shocking having a junior NCO, like myself, advocating and making change than if I were, let’s say, a higher ranking Officer. I offered up a realistic perspective and brought insight from the lower levels that was articulated clearly and concisely proving I wasn’t just bringing issues to the table without solutions. Again, I think I got more attention this way. Too often lower enlisted Service members are disregarded and considered complainers and incapable of truly understanding the decisions and reasons for such policies and procedures. I like to think my participation was unpredicted and eye opening when it truly mattered. I am hoping I can accomplish similar change and MORE if I am to become Ms. Veteran America 2021! Like, wait- WHO IS THIS?!? It me, hehe.
Additionally, it appears only two (of the nine, to include the current reigning Queen) were actively serving in the military during their tenure wearing the crown. I know I’ll be able to manage the dual responsibility, and look forward to hopefully taking a career shift and becoming an Army Recruiter in the near future and would love to simultaneously bear the honor of being the 10th title holder of Ms. Veteran America.
Now, that’s the important stuff! On Sunday I get judged on the Talent portion for Semi-Finals, also virtual via Zoom! Many of ya’ll have asked how you can watch this, and unfortunately (but fortunately for me, ha) you can’t. Sorry. It’s private! Maybe they will screen record us and release portions of these events publicly after the fact- but I honestly have no idea. That said, if I progress to Finals you will definitely get to witness me doing my thang in October. Talent this year is a lip syncing competition. I’m thankful for this because I would have no clue what to do for talent if not! On the other hand, I’m very nervous about my performance on Sunday and hope that it is received the way I intend to deliver (perform) it. No spoilers! I’m not saying what my song is, but just know that I am pretty nervous about doing it justice. All in all it will be fun!
We should know within the next two weeks who makes it to the Finals and I can’t wait to finally breathe after this round. No matter what happens, it has been an absolute honor and privilege to be a part of something bigger than myself and advocate and raise funds for such an underestimated demographic of homeless persons in the United States, and my sisters-in-arms.
I’m still selling shirts/tanks and stickers from this site, and all proceeds are now going straight into a donation to Final Salute, Inc. If you would rather support my campaign fundraiser without the goods please visit my Facebook Fundraiser to donate on my behalf! All proceeds benefit homeless women Veterans and their children and demonstrate my ability to effectively fundraise for them!
If you donate directly to FSI via their website make sure you let them know who sent you, Taylor Anne Knueven!