Deshauna Barber, a 26-year-old Army Reserve officer from Washington D.C., was just crowned Miss USA 2016 one week after helping a military teenager pick out her homecoming dress at a USO Operation That’s My Dress in Las Vegas.
An IT analyst and a military brat, Barber not only had the experience necessary to help the teen with her fashion selection, but she also helped her connect with her deployed father through Skype.
“We both just understood, like on a different level, what it really means to be in a military family,” said Katelyn McKeen, 16, who was paired with Barber to help find the perfect Sherri Hill dress. When they found it, Barber helped McKeen Skype her father, Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Christopher McKeen, in Afghanistan.
“This has all been a truly special experience for our whole family,” said Katelyn’s mother, Christi. “The girls are big into pageants and Sherri Hill is Katelyn’s favorite designer, so this whole thing has been surreal. We were cheering for [Barber] so hard last night.”
Now in its third year, Operation That’s My Dress is one of many ways the USO supports service members and military families. It’s a star-studded event that gives military teens, female service members and spouses a chance to pick out a brand new gown or dress from international fashion designer Sherri Hill and other notable designers in the fashion world.
These events typically feature a fashion show featuring professional models who showcase evening and formalwear from world-class designers and entertainment by the USO Show Troupe. The event also features a beauty bar with jewelry and fashion accessories so participants can accessorize their looks from head to toe. A dress expo filled with hundreds of dress options opens after the fashion show and models pair up with attendees to help them find the dresses of their dreams. During the dress expo, stylists are on hand to provide hair and makeup demonstrations and consultations to give participants additional resources to help them feel confident and beautiful.
“As a soldier I take this event very serious and felt truly connected to all the amazing cadets, volunteers and families that were involved with this event!” Barber wrote on Instagram.
Miss USA takes a selfie for Instagram in her U.S. Army battle dress uniform.
Miss USA Deshauna Barber helps a Las Vegas teen pick out her homecoming dress at Operation That’s My Dress.
Miss USA Deshauna Barber poses on Instagram in her Army uniform.
Miss USA Deshauna Barber helps a Las Vegas teen and fellow military brat pick out her homecoming dress.
“The USO has always been there for us,” Christi McKeen said. “But in the 21 years I’ve been a military spouse, I have never felt so supported as we are out here in Las Vegas. When we get new airmen in, I always tell them [to] make sure you get on the USO mailing list.”
Help the military stay connected to family, home and country by donating to the USO.
You can send a message of support and thanks directly to service members via the USO’s Campaign to Connect. Your messages will appear on screens at USO locations around the world.
More from the USO
Nov 19, 2014
USO Operation: That’s My Dress!, Sherri Hill and L’Oréal Give Military Family a Fairy Tale Week
Brooke Ruud, 15, never thought she’d be wearing a designer dress to her high school prom this year. But thanks to USO Operation: That’s My Dress!, Ruud, along with 400 other Jacksonville-area military teens, will dance the night away in the Sherri Hill-designed gowns of their dreams.