By Cathy Pauley, USARECApril 15, 2014
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (April 9, 2014) -- When Staff Sgt. Allaina Guitron volunteered for recruiting duty, little did she know how her title of "Ms. Veteran America" would be a perfect fit to showcase her Army story.
When a close friend approached the Montgomery Recruiting Battalion non-commissioned officer about the competition, she thought it was a typical pageant. Then she found out the charitable beneficiary of the Ms. Veteran America competition is Final Salute Inc., an organization that provides homeless women veterans safe and affordable housing.
"The real question became, 'How could I not compete?'" said Guitron. "I am already part of the Army and I am already a Soldier. To accomplish something beyond being a Soldier is more than I could ask for."
For this 13-year veteran, the platform was personal. Guitron's mother dealt with homelessness most of her life, and Guitron grew up in foster homes. In 2000, her life changed when she enlisted in the Army.
"I knew the Army would be challenging and would provide opportunities for me to better myself," she said.
Guitron entered the competition when she was in the 55th Signal Company, at Fort Meade, Md. Her year-long stint as "Ms. Veteran America" started when she arrived to recruiting duty in Crestview, Fla., in October 2013.
"It was an easy decision to let Guitron compete," said Maj. Kyle Yates, then 55th Signal Company commander. "After learning about the Ms. Veteran American organization and its mission, I was extremely proud of her desire to represent our service beyond the uniform."
Yates said Guitron lives the Army Values in her military and personal life.
"She successfully led and took care of Soldiers as a non-commissioned officer in the Army's most deployed Signal Company, supported her Soldier-husband during his deployment, transitioned to Recruiting Command and provided for her extended family," he said.
The extended family that Yates referred to was Guitron's brother, Christian, who she was sole provider for, from 2005 until she reported to recruiting duty.
When invited to speak as "Ms. Veteran America," Guitron includes her personal biography about her job as a recruiter. She also mentors a few teens and young women.
"I try to be the voice of reason for them, even though sometimes it is hard for them to hear, but they know I have their best interest in mind," said Guitron. "It is important that female Soldiers see a strong, positive, resilient and selfless leader they can emulate. Therefore, I choose to lead by example in everything I do."
Crestview Center Commander Sgt. 1st Class John Carroll said Guitron is one of the most dedicated Soldiers with whom he has worked.
"I have witnessed a Soldier who gives everything to being a Soldier," he said. "She strives to be the best at everything she does. She embodies the Army Values and is a sterling example both personally and professionally of what is expected of a Soldier in the U.S. Army."
In Guitron's community, she is involved with Fisher House at Eglin Air Force Base. Because of her personal story, she also speaks with local mayors, veteran's organizations and Chambers of Commerce to bring light to the homeless women veterans' issue.
Guitron takes to heart the Army Values and applies them to every aspect of her life.
"In her role as 'Ms. Veteran America,' Guitron brings the same passion and desire to help others," said Carroll. "She shows that with hard work and dedication there is nothing they cannot achieve."
This perfect fit is the reason she volunteered for recruiting.
"I wanted to share my life experiences with people," she said.