Alabama teacher crowned Ms. Veteran America
By SHELLY HASKINS | al.com | Published: November 4, 2020
(Tribune News Service) — When
Having just lived here a year, (she moved to
By the time she arrived at the
“I love it down here,” said Hotaling, an Army veteran and Army wife who has been stationed all over the country, from Texas to Kansas to Florida and Mississippi. “This is truly one of the friendliest states that we’ve been stationed in.”
Her ruck march fundraiser raised $27,464 for Final Salute, a charity that helps homeless female veterans find stable housing and get back on their feet.
It was also key to Hotaling winning the title of Ms. Veteran America over 25 other national finalists on
The judging criteria included a grueling interview, knowledge of military history, fundraising and advocacy for homeless female veterans. The $27,464 she raised for Final Salute was the most of any contestant, and she also was named to the Top 10 in talent – a lip sync to “All That Jazz” from the musical, “Chicago.”
Ironically, Hotaling is an accomplished singer, and has sung the National Anthem at NFL and
After nailing all the judging criteria, Hotaling — who left the Army in 2002 as a captain and served as an ambulance platoon leader in
Now she has a national platform for a year to promote veterans issues, especially her favorite charity, Final Salute.
She’s still finding out the details of what her year as Ms. Veteran America will be like, but for her it won’t be just a tour of the country wearing a tiara and sash and waving at crowds. She plans to use the Ms. Veteran America platform to take the work she’s been doing locally and make it a nationwide effort.
“This is where the real work starts for me. I don’t want my year to be about parades,” she said. “I want it to be about putting in the work.”
Want to help?
To see Mary Ann Hotaling’s Ms. Veteran America Finalist page and donate to her cause visit https://www.facebook.com/maryannh4MVA2020
To donate to Final Salute, visit www.finalsaluteinc.com