SALT LAKE CITY --
The core values of the U. S. Air Force are integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. An Airman from the 151st Air Refueling Wing at Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base here took this to heart as she competed and placed as second runner-up in the 2017 Ms. Veteran America Competition on Oct. 8, 2017, in Washington, D.C.
Senior Airman Savannah Raskey, an Airman assigned to the Maintenance Operations Flight of the 151st Aircraft Maintenance Group here, said she started the journey of becoming a finalist in the competition at the beginning of the year.
“The whole process for Ms. Veteran America started seven months ago, but even before I knew what Ms. Veteran America was I had been actively searching for a way to reach out and support our vets,” said Raskey. “Before entering the competition I wasn’t aware of the vast population of homeless female veterans in our country.”
The Ms. Veteran America contest is an event encompassing 25 finalists from around the country, which can feature current military members or veterans from every branch, to showcase “The Woman Beyond the Uniform.” It highlights the courage, strength and sacrifice of these women, but also reminds people that the women are also mothers, daughters, sisters and wives. All proceeds from the event went to providing housing for homeless women veterans and their children.
“After putting so many hours and so much energy into being as prepared as possible for this competition, being crowned as second runner up was such an honor and a humbling experience,” she said. “The other 24 finalists are amazing women who have all accomplished incredible things and are incredible advocates for our female veterans.”
Raskey said she volunteers her time to various events and venues for veterans, and is an advocate for Final Salute Inc., an organization founded by Jas Boothe, an Army veteran and cancer survivor who realized the needs of homeless female veterans.
“I have tried to find unique and innovative ways to advocate for Final Salute Inc. while raising money for their cause,” said Raskey. “I’ve written poems and created multiple videos hoping to garner the attention and support through the visual arts and be able to spread the message of Final Salute Inc. across social media platforms.”
Raskey said she has also been able to advocate for Final Salute Inc. by setting up booths and collecting donations while spreading awareness about homeless veteran women in Utah.
Raskey has been part of the Utah Air National Guard for the past five years, with her family having an extended history in the military and in the Air Force.
“Growing up I was surrounded by a long line of influential men in the military,” said Raskey. “My grandpa served in both the Navy and the Air Force, my dad was an F-16 fighter pilot, my step-dad was in the Army, my step-brother is a paratrooper in the Air Force, and my brother went to the Air Force Academy.”
After her first year of college, Raskey said her dad gave her a gentle push to enlist in the Utah Air National Guard, knowing she would be the only female in her family to do so.
“I always tell people that my greatest accomplishment so far has been enlisting in the military,” said Raskey. “I didn’t enlist for money or because I didn’t want to go to school... I enlisted because I have deep pride and love for my country and want to give back and serve and protect our freedoms.”
Raskey said she is projected to graduate from Utah Valley University in Visual and Performing Arts this December. She also plans to try out for America’s Got Talent that same month, singing opera and showcasing the same talent that helped her place in the competition in D.C.
“I plan on utilizing this opportunity I’ve been given to officially represent the Ms. Veteran America organization to my upmost ability,” said Raskey. “I’m excited to get out there and help make people aware of the growing epidemic of our homeless female veterans and raise awareness for Final Salute Inc. and all that they’re doing to help our women vets. We need our community to rally behind these women and give them the support that they deserve.”