CBS Eye on Veterans | Ms. Veteran America contest fights for homeless women vets plus C3 helps our heroes

Eye on Veterans
August 14, 2020 - 4:04 pm
How Ms Veteran America 2020 contest is helping women veterans and the C3 program for caregivers from The Elizabeth Dole Foundation

Beauty that Battles Homelessness

Lt Yvonne Armstrong shares her journey from homeless enlisted Sailor to Academy Officer and now a Ms Veteran America contest

Lt. Yvonne Armstrong is an economics instructor at the United States Naval Academy and a Ms. Veteran America contestant.

But her story is so much more than just beauty beyond the uniform. 

She is using the Ms. Veteran America Contest platform to raise money for homeless women veterans, and it's an issue that hits close to home -- because she's been there. 

Long before her days teaching economics at the Naval Academy, she was a young mother searching for support in a tumultuous world.

“At 23 years old and my mom had just passed away … my father had a nervous breakdown and was no support at all and I was also divorced.  I had no support system at all and no job … I enlisted as a mess cook. I just needed some money, some stability, and a way to take care of my son,” Armstrong said.

Her initial enlistment was not easy.  She survived a situation that nobody would imagine could occur while serving our in our nation’s military – being homeless. Unable to get on-base housing as an enlisted with a child, Armstrong explained, “I found myself between homes, not quite having a place to stay for myself and my older son Zion.”

Lt Yvonne Armstrong, as an enlisted Sailor in Boot Camp and a Navy Lt, with her two sons

Above: (L) Armstrong in Boot Camp (R) Proud mother, Navy Officer, and Ms. Veteran America Contestant  

In our interview, she described the incredible lengths she went to, in order for her and her son to survive and why it was even harder to ask for help because she was a woman. Armstrong eventually found success and earned a commission after she made history as the only female student from the United States to ever attend Erasmus University Rotterdam School of Management's Master of Science "MEL" Maritime Economics and Logistics Program.  She now teaches Economics at the United States Naval Academy, where her oldest son is also a Midshipman. 

But the days where money and hope were both in short supply have stayed with her.  During our special three-part interview, Armstrong explained why Ms. Veteran America 2020  “is not a beauty pageant,” but rather a competition where female veterans “compete to represent the organization Final Salute Inc.” 

Their mission is simple -- to provide women veterans with safe and suitable housing.  

“When I looked into the organization, and the story of the founder who herself was also once homeless, it was obvious,” Armstrong said. “She was me.”

Final Salute Inc 501c3 helps women veterans with resources and stable housing

For more information and to support Final Salute click here.

For more about Ms Veteran America 2020 click here.

 

Jennifer Mackinday talks about C3 program for caregivers from the Elizabeth Dole Foundation

Helping those who help our heroes  

For the caregivers who support our veterans, the COVID era can become isolating, depressing, and difficult on a variety of levels. We talked with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s Jennifer Mackinday about an online program that is here to help. Powered by Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), The Caregiver Community Connection (C3) is an interactive web series that aims to empower, inspire, and engage America’s military, veteran, and family caregivers.

Episode topics include but are not limited to healthy lifestyle hacks, self-care and self-love, personal and professional development, financial wellness, mental and physical health, leadership, sharing your story, and more.



Check out more episodes of Eye on Veterans here.

Follow Eye on Veterans Host Phil Briggs @philbriggsVet or send your thoughts, stories, and recipes involving whiskey, bacon, and beer to phil@connectingvets.com