PORT ORCHARD — Navy veteran and South Kitsap teacher Jacqueline Zappey is a finalist in this year’s Miss Veteran America competition held in Hollywood on October 7.
The MVA competition was founded in 2012, and it is an opportunity for female active duty military and veterans to showcase who they are. It is not a beauty pageant but a competition about “the woman beyond the uniform.”
Zappey began preparing for the competition in March. The audition process had her go through an interview about female military history, the competition’s main advocacy program and the competition itself. At the competition, she will have to participate in similar interviews, as well as a push-up competition against the other finalists.
The MVA has a partnership with the Final Salute Inc., a nonprofit that raises awareness and helps fight against the female homeless veteran problem by providing safe and suitable housing for female homeless veterans and their children.
According to Final Salute Inc.’s website, there are an estimated 55,000 female veterans homeless on each given day, and the MVA has helped raise over $350,000 in support of this project and others supporting female veterans and their children.
If Zappey wins, she would become a louder advocate for both the MVA and Final Salute Inc. She would travel and become an official ambassador to spread awareness about the issue across the country.
Zappey explained that she was raised in extreme poverty when she was a child. Her mother, Christie Abrams, raised her and her two siblings by herself, and they “couch surfed” and struggled to make ends meet until they met Zappey’s future stepfather.
“This is my chance to give back and help others,” she said.
For her to become a finalist, she placed in the top 20 of the competitors that applied and so, her hotel and food are paid for but she is responsible for her airfare and travel expenses to get to California.
Zappey moved to Port Orchard nine years ago because she was stationed the USS John C. Stennis as an aviation technician before she retired after four years. She now teaches second grade at Orchard Heights Elementary and has worked for the South Kitsap School District since 2012.
Her husband — Jacob Zappey —also teaches in the South Kitsap School District, right down the street at Marcus Whitman Middle School.
Winning the MVA would mean Zappey would have the chance to do both things she’s wanted to do for a while.
“I always wanted to be a teacher to help kids,” she said, “but now I have a chance to be an advocate for homeless female vets.”
When Zappey is not working at the school, she is busy raising her four kids and volunteering at the Retsil Veterans home.
Zappey and the other finalists have to report to the competition on October 5, before the night of the October 7 competition — according to the MVA’s website