INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --
An Incirlik NCO who volunteered her time to bring out the beauty in homeless women, was recognized for her efforts in a competition for female veterans.
Tech. Sgt. Antonia Williams, 39th Air Base Wing Equal Opportunity counselor, could have never fathomed she would be chosen as one of six U.S. Air Force representatives in the Ms. Veteran America 2016 competition.
“A friend of mine emailed me one day and suggested I do this [MVA competition],” said Williams. “At first I was like, I don’t want to do a beauty competition, but after reading more about the event I completed the application anyway.”
According to its website, MVA is a competition to highlight more than the strength, courage, and sacrifice of our nation’s military women; it also reminds us that these women are mothers, daughters, sisters and wives.
The part about being a mother is especially significant to Williams, who is the mother of 10-year-old Khalia.
“I want to make sure I’m being a good role model for my daughter so that she will know the importance of giving back,” said Williams. It’s not always about what you receive, but what you give.”
One of the competition requirements was for applicants to be actively involved in their community through volunteerism and charitable initiatives for Final Salute.
“I spent a lot of my volunteer time helping to bring awareness to homeless female veterans,” said Williams. “I enjoyed being a part of something that helped make women feel special and beautiful, because we are.”
In July, Williams found out she had been chosen as a finalist, after a six-month wait from the time of submitting her application.
“I couldn’t believe I had been selected, it was so unreal,” said Williams. “I like to volunteer and do things because it makes me feel good, but to be chosen out of 400-plus candidates is amazing.”
Williams knew she had been chosen as a finalist, but had already received orders to come to Incirlik.
“I had to balance all that was going on in my life at the time,” she said. “I was moving my daughter across the country, and following that, going to another country. It was hard, but resiliency kept me focused and it was able to work out through my supportive supervisor here.”
The St. Maarten native knows what it’s like to be less fortunate.
“I came from a country where we didn’t have much,” she said. “Now that I can, I love to be able to give back to my community whether it is through time or raising money.”
Even though Williams didn’t come home with the crown, she said it was an experience she will never forget.
“I’m glad I put in that application when it was something I really had no idea about,” she said. “Now, I know if I continue to challenge myself, then maybe one day I will bring home the tiara. So I’m going to keep pushing.”
For more information on MVA and its initiatives, visit www.msveteranamerica.org.