Kristina Pressley. COURTESY PHOTO

Kristina Pressley. COURTESY PHOTO

Auburn woman reaches finals of Ms. Veteran America

Pressley, a 12-year Air Force veteran, is one of 25 finalists who will compete in Hollywood

Kristina Pressley is strapping up the boots for a worthy cause in her run at a title.

The Auburn woman, a 12-year Air Force veteran, is one of 25 finalists who will compete for the Ms. Veteran America crown in Hollywood, Calif., on Oct. 13.

“It’s all very exciting,” said Pressley, who advanced after surviving the semifinal showdown at Las Vegas, Nev., June 22-23. “I’m really looking forward to the Finals

Pressley is competing for others. Proceeds from the Ms. Veteran America program benefit Final Salute, Inc., which provides housing for homeless women veterans and their children. This year’s program, The Woman Beyond the Uniform, sheds light on the strength, courage and sacrifice of the country’s military women, who are also mothers, daughters, sisters and wives.

“We need to take care of our veterans better, honestly,” said Pressley, who works for Auburn-based Orion Industries, a social enterprise and aerospace parts manufacturing business that offers paid training and job placement services to people with barriers to employment.

“My heart will always be finding ways to serve our veterans community,” she said. “There’s always more that we can do for them.”

Pressley and the 24 other finalists collaborated on a July fundraiser, A Mile in Her Boots. For every $25 that was donated to her campaign, Pressley ran a mile in combat boots.

“I raised enough in July to run 16 miles in my boots,” she added.

Pressley completed Auburn’s Almost 5K Poker Run at Les Gove Park last Friday. She plans to cover 13.1 miles in boots at the Iron Horse Half Marathon in North Bend on Aug 25.

“It was a lot harder than I remember from my time in the Air Force,” Pressley said of running in boots. “My ankles got a bit torn up by the boots (last) Friday night. I’ll let them heal up and be ready for the boots again for the Iron Horse Half Marathon.”

She is planning other fundraising events this summer, leading up to the finals. She also is reaching out to veterans organizations throughout the area to speak and advocate for Final Salute, Inc. and Ms. Veteran America.

In Hollywood, finalists will be judged on their interview, talent (lip sync), military history and advocacy. There will be an evening gown competition. The crown carries cash and other awards, along with the honor of being a national ambassador and spokeswoman for the cause.

“It’s a fun thing for me to do,” Pressley said. “I’m going to dress up, and I’m a performer at heart, anyway. I get to show off a little bit. It’s what I like to do.”

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