The Miss USA pageant crowned Deshauna Barber, Miss District of Columbia, its winner Sunday. Aside from being D.C.'s first winner in 14 years, she's the first military Miss USA, and she's getting attention for her comments on women in combat positions.
During the pageant's Q&A portion, Barber was asked whether the Pentagon's December decision to open combat roles to women was more about political correctness or "our military's ability to perform at a high level."
Barber said, in part: "As a woman in the United States Army, I think it was an amazing job by our government to allow women to integrate to every branch of the military. We are just as tough as men. ... Gender does not limit us in the United States Army."
Barber's comments come just months after Defense Secretary Ash Carter's historic announcement:
"Our force of the future must continue to benefit from the best people America has to offer. In the 21st century, that requires drawing strength from the broadest possible pool of talent. This includes women," Carter said.
And her comments represent a pretty high-profile endorsement during a contest watched by millions of people.
"My father served in the military for 24 years, and my mother served in the military. That's actually where they met," Barber said.
Barber herself is a first lieutenant in the Army Reserves.
As for women in combat positions, Carter warned in March that it'll take time to see change. In the meantime, he said the military is working to address challenges associated with women moving up the military ranks.