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Be a warrior: Former Tiger to show her skills at female veterans’ competition

Contributed by Charlynda Scales

Ms. Veteran America’s slogan is “The Woman behind the Uniform,” and if you ask former Clemson Tiger Charlynda Scales what that means, she’ll be quick to tell you.
“She represents the everyday woman veteran who is a voice for an estimated 55,000 homeless female veterans and her sisters in her arms, past and present,” Scales said.
Don’t mistake Ms. Veteran America for a pageant.
“Miss Veteran America is not a pageant. The Ms. Veteran America competition highlights more than the strength, resilience, sacrifice and courage of our nation’s military woman,” said Scales, “It also reminds America that these women are also mothers, daughters, wives and sisters.”
Founded by MAJ Jas Boothe, Ms. Veteran America was created alongside Final Salute Inc., Boothe’s non-profit that fights against veteran homelessness in women. It was this story that convinced Scales to apply for the competition.
Held in Washington, D.C., the contest consists of a push-up competition called “push-up princess,” a test on each contestant’s knowledge of military history, a talent competition and an interview.
When it comes to handling the pressures of the public speaking, Scales never shows fear.
“I’m a big believer that faith and fear cannot coexist. … I choose to believe stress is a great way of pushing you out of your comfort zone and unlocking parts of your abilities you didn’t previously know existed.”
Of course, in order to be a participant in the Ms. Veteran America competition, one must have been or continue to be engaged in the military. This experience has so far been 12 years that Charlynda continues to look on fondly, citing her grandfather as an inspiration.
“Military service is part of my family legacy … in 2004, after graduating from Clemson, I became the first female and first commissioned officer in my family [to serve].”
With over a decade of service under her belt, Scales has many accomplishments that she holds dear to her.
“During my active duty service as an Acquisitions Officer, I had the honor of being program manager of several platforms to include nuclear weapons security programs, fighter aircraft and small arms. Notably, I was one of four Air Force Program Managers called to respond to the 2008 California wildfires,” Scales said.
The former Tiger also remembers her Clemson days greatly, after she was drawn in by “something in the hills.”
“Clemson University was a clear choice for me. … The camaraderie and sense of family that one has while living in TigerTown is hard to beat.”
Scales was also on the rowing team, where after spending 11-weeks of intense practicing, she found herself on a team where “I discovered levels of pain I didn’t think existed. Similarly, the rewards were just as great.”
In Scales’ free time, she likes to volunteer. Two of her biggest involvements are with BUILD and the Girl Scouts, where she serves as a mentor.
“BUILD is dedicated to proving the power of experiential learning through entrepreneurship, and igniting the potential of youth in under-resourced communities. … Our overall goal is graduation for the student as well as a path to higher education,” Scales said in response to her work with BUILD.
With Girl Scouts, Scales said, “In any community I live in, I look for local troops to volunteer my time and experiences, and encourage high school girls to keep going in the program.”
Scales also is a big fan of “American Ninja Warrior,” and Jessie Graff, the stuntwoman for CBS’s “Supergirl.”
Since becoming a final 25 contestant, Charlynda says that the cause has given her a new feeling of strength when it comes to herself, other contestants and her fellow female veterans.
“I constantly checked myself on this journey with one question — how far are you willing to go for your sisters? MAJ Boothe made an oath to ‘Never leave a fallen comrade behind.’ I stand with her on that feeling and determination.”
And while the grand prize may be $15,000 towards education, Scales does not see money as the biggest accomplishment in her journey through the competition. Nor will she be marred by not receiving first prize.
“I will continue to give more than I receive. I am dedicated to remaining humble yet fearless and focused. My support to Final Salute will not waiver.”
Ultimately, Scales wants to send love to those who have had her back and have shared in her experience in some way or another.
“I’m humbled and proud to be a Clemson Tiger! Thank you for the years of support and being part of the village that raised me to be the woman and veteran I am today.”
You can help Charlynda by donating to Final Salute Inc. here: By donating $25, Scales has said that you can “house a homeless female veteran and her children for a night.” Scales can also be followed on Twitter (@charlys4mva2016) or Facebook (/charlyndas4mva2016).
The Ms. Veteran American finale will be Sunday, Oct. 9 at 7 P.M. at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. Military dress or black tie formal is required. Tickets will be available from $25-$500 at The hosts will be “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” actor Lamman Rucker and glamputee and former Ms. Veteran America contestant Marissa Strock.

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