Lee News

Alumna Gutierrez Named MVA 2017 Finalist

Lee University alumna Staff Sergeant Lindsay (Ashley) Gutierrez('06) was recently selected as one of the 25 finalists for Ms. Veteran America (MVA) 2017 competition.

Gutierrez enlisted in the United States Air Force in fall 2010. During her six-year service, she served on two deployments to Qatar and Djibouti. She also went on a temporary duty assignment in Israel. After leaving the Air Force in September 2016 with an honorable discharge, Gutierrez learned about Ms. Veteran America and Final Salute Inc. She has since been working toward raising awareness of homeless female veterans with both groups.

Lindsay Gutierrez during Military Training
Lindsay Gutierrez is pictured here at the USAF Basic Military Training facility in San Antonio.

“The amount of homeless women veterans is a national tragedy,” said Gutierrez. “We have a stereotype in our heads of the ‘male veteran’ which causes female veterans to become the ‘invisible veteran.’”

Gutierrez, one of the 440 applicants for MVA, competed in June in Arlington, Virginia at the semi-finals. She was notified in July that she was one of the 25 finalists.

“The competition isn’t based on appearance,” says Gutierrez. “It is based on the character of the women, the woman behind the uniform.”

The MVA competition collaborates with Final Salute Inc. (FSI) to raise awareness about female veteran homelessness. Army Major Jaspen Boothe founded FSI in 2010. She started the organization after experiencing homelessness herself due to a medical discharge and her home’s destruction from Hurricane Katrina. Boothe’s family eventually stepped in and helped her find her footing again, but due to her experience she was painfully aware of the need for specialized women veterans care.

“By not having services available to them, we are doing a disservice to our female veterans,” said Gutierrez when speaking about the impact of FSI.

The MVA was born out of the non-profit as a way to spread the reach and awareness of FSI. The organizations work together to ensure all women veterans have support to lean on in a time of need. The competition is open to any female veteran who has served the U.S. in any capacity.

Gutierrez emphasized that she hopes to continue to increase awareness of the issue, because while the overall number of homeless veterans is decreasing, the percentage of homeless women veterans is continuing to steadily increase.

Gutierrez, who graduated from Lee in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in theatre, was a pitcher for the Lady Flames softball team during her time at Lee. She went on to earn her Master of Arts in human relations at University of Oklahoma during her service. Gutierrez is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in social work from Arizona State University with a concentration in forensics and trauma.

Gutierrez MVA Finalist
Lindsay Gutierrez

The MVA finals will take place Oct. 6-8 in Washington D.C. The top ten will be announced and a live show will take place to crown the 2017 Ms. Veteran America on Sunday, Oct. 8.

For more information about Gutierrez’s campaign or to get involved, follow on Facebook or on Twitter.

For more information about Ms. Veteran America, visit MVA.

For more information about Final Salute Inc., visit FSI.
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