COLORADO SPRINGS — Fort Carson's Maura Spence-Carroll is the new Miss Colorado, becoming the first active-duty military service member to win that competition. She'll now move on to compete at Miss America.
The soldier traded in her Army boots for heels to take the stage while using her platform to spread an important message to the community. She's spreading awareness and bringing attention to mental health among soldiers and veterans.
Spence-Carroll entered the Miss Colorado competition as Miss Fort Carson, competing against 11 other young women from across the state.
"By ending the stigma, more people get healthcare, and when we get more healthcare, we can reduce the rates of suicide rates later on between both military members and veterans," Spence-Carroll told News5 before the competition.
Her own mental health is something she's learned more about in recent months after she was diagnosed with ADHD last October.
"It was like a light bulb moment, everything made sense, and I could stop living in shame," said Spence-Carroll. "I think that by being open, honest, and allowing people to see the hardships as well as the struggles, it will hopefully open up that avenue for other people to receive care as well."
With her story, she's hoping to help end the stigma, because the mind matters.
"If anyone else out there is brave enough to speak up, I fully encourage you to, and I'll be standing there right next to you," said Spence-Carroll.
Spence-Carroll said outside of being a soldier, she practices her singing daily, which is her talent during the competition. She also does a lot of volunteer work like speaking at schools and practicing her interview questions for the competition.
The Miss America pageant will take place this December at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut.
The Texas native currently serves with 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division as an intelligence analyst.