Veterans & Tiaras: Meet Mrs. New York

Eye on Veterans
December 07, 2018 - 8:46 am

Photos courtesy Patti Gomez

March 2018 was a big month for Patti Gomez. After finishing up her tour as a Human Intelligence Collector (35M) in the National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division based out of Glenville, NY  she took off the Army uniform and donned a new one. One that included a sash and crown. 

Just days after her honorable discharge, Gomez was named Mrs. New York and began preparing to compete in the Mrs. America competition. 

So how does one go from soldiering to pageantry? In Gomez's case, it wasn't a lifelong pursuit but more of a spur of the moment decision.

"This is my first ever step into pageantry," Gomez says. "I'd done a lot of volunteering in Syracuse and throughout New York and people kept bringing it up to me that I could raise a lot more money for the organizations that I volunteer for if I did the pageant circuit. And I thought 'no, that's silly, y'know I'm not really a pageant person, I can barely walk in heels as it is.' But somehow it just kept coming up and I thought, y'know what? Let me look into this."

When she did, she found that she met the criteria for the Mrs. America and took her first step towards that goal by entering the Mrs. Syracuse competition. Gomez wasn't sure how her fellow soldiers would respond to one of their own pursuing a "beauty queen" title, particularly as she was the only female 35M in the unit, and the only female at all in her squad. But any worry she had, was quickly erased. 

"At first they were in disbelief because that's not the persona they were used to dealing with," Gomez recalls. "Then I got made fun of a little bit, and then they embraced it. I can't tell you just how supportive my unit leaders were and my squad leaders and my chain of command... they donated to my organizations, they cheered me on, they had a send-off party for me. Extremely supportive."

With their support, Gomez won at the local and state level, which meant she was headed to Las Vegas to compete for the Mrs. America title. While she didn't take home the overall crown, Gomez was named the winner of the "Best Physical Fitness" award, and in the process raised awareness, and money, for several organizations including her main charity Homes For Our Troops

So what's next for Patti Gomez? Currently, she's got a lot on her plate. Along with serving as Mrs. New York, she's pursuing her Master's degree in marketing management. And while she currently has veteran status, she says that may very well change as she's considering a return to the National Guard in the near future. Whatever the future holds, Gomez says people will be able to keep up with her journey at her website as well as her Instagram page

Want to get more connected to the great stories and resources Connecting Vets has to offer? Click here and sign up for our weekly newsletter.