Athens woman wins Ms. Veterans America 2020

Miss Veteran America winner, Mary Ann Hotaling

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - You’ve heard of Miss America, and you’ve heard of Miss USA, but have you heard of Ms. Veterans America?

The Ms. Veteran America Competition highlights the strength, courage, and sacrifice of our nation’s military women.

Mary Ann Hotaling of Athens, holds the title of Ms. Veterans America 2020. Hotaling joined Tennessee Valley Living to share what inspired her to be apart of the inspirational competition.

The purpose of the Ms. Veterans America pageant is to showcase “The woman beyond the uniform”. This pageant certainly did that for Mary Ann Hotaling. When Hotaling became aware of the increasing number of homeless female Veterans in America, she vowed to change that outcome.

“In America, Ms. Veteran America serves as the national ambassador for these women veterans. This was why I knew that this was the year I needed to compete. This was the year I knew if I wanted to make an impact during the pandemic. This was a good route to go, to be able to participate in a competition where my fellow competitors are also all military veterans or active duty, even though we’re competing against one another, our common goal was the same for me,” said Mary Ann Hotaling.

Hotaling spent five months campaigning before the final competition. She stated the most important thing she could do assist women Veterans.

“So many of us feel so hopeless during the pandemic and we don’t know how to help our fellow Americans. And this gave me that focus. Um, just putting my energy somewhere in a positive manner has helped me. It really has. It’s helped me emotionally. Uh, so I, I feel that it’s really given, given me,” said Hotaling.

A Ruck March was started in Downtown Huntsville to raise awareness for homeless women Veterans in America. What began with only her and a friend, ended with multiple community members walking alongside her.

“I had 40 to 50 people ruck marching with me. Some of them, planned on being there. And some people just saw what we were doing while they were driving in downtown Huntsville and they got out and just joined us to me,” said Hotaling.

Each year, proceeds from the Ms. Veteran America competition provide housing for homeless women Veterans and their children.

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