A U.S. Army veteran living in Laramie will head to Washington, D.C. this fall to participate in the 2016 Ms. Veteran America competition, a pageant exclusively for former or current service members.

Khryshell Beebe joined up through the delayed entry program when she was 17. She left for basic training when she turned 18, two weeks after graduating high school in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Beebe was stationed in Ft. Myer, Va., for roughly three years before being transferred to Ft. Stewart, Ga., where she served as team leader in a Military Police unit. Shortly afterward, she was selected for the Ft. Stewart Special Reaction Team -- the first female picked for the force. She served in that role for a little over a year.

Beebe and her husband, Jacob -- who also served in the U.S. Army -- left the service in 2013 and moved to Laramie so that Jacob, a Powell native, could attend the University of Wyoming.

Ms. Veteran America, now in its fifth year, held regional finals on May 28 and June 18 as well as a virtual competition for deployed service members or those who otherwise couldn't make it. The national competition is set for Oct. 9.

The pageant will select one winner based on her ability to advocate for Final Salute Inc., which set up the Ms. Veteran America competition. Final Salute aims to provide homeless women veterans with safe, suitable housing.

The organization says on any given day, there are 55,000 homeless women veterans in the United States. Beebe has been hard at work to address that issue.

"I've been putting together beauty bags," says Beebe. "It's a lot of hygiene products for specifically women... the hygiene products that aren't usually donated to shelters."

Beebe took 50 of those bags to the Sheridan VA Medical Center and also distributed bags at the Homeless Stand Down in Casper and the WyPowWow, a conference promoting women veterans of Wyoming.

"I want to be able to continue doing this even beyond the competition," Beebe says. "It's not only to give out these items to women, but to give out the information about Final Salute. That way, if they're in need, they can look up this organization and get the help they need."

Each of the Ms. Veteran America contestants are working on a local t-shirt campaign. The shirts simply bear the number 55,000 and will cost $25 apiece -- the cost of one day of housing for a homeless woman veteran. Beebe has set up several options for people to donate to assist homeless women veterans.

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