Breezy Grenier, 35, of Sherman, served in the U.S. Coast Guard as a petty officer third class and a food service specialist from 2006 to 2010. Now the Connecticut native is a finalist for the annual Ms. Veteran America competition.
“This is not a beauty pageant. It’s a military women’s competition,” she said while attending the 3rd District of the American Legion’s annual Children’s Fishing Derby at Great Hollow Lake in Monroe Saturday. “It uplifts women veterans because a lot of the time we’re forgotten about. We’re someone’s daughter or someone’s wife and they forget we’re veterans too.”
On Saturday, Grenier, who is a member of American Legion Post 60 in Danbury, helped present trophies for the biggest fish and posed for pictures with the winners.
The winner of the Ms. Veteran America contest will be the spokesperson of the year for Final Salute Inc., a nonprofit that provides safe and stable housing for homeless female veterans and their children nationwide. According to Final Salute, there are 55,000 homeless female veterans in the country.
Grenier said female veterans are four times more likely than their male counterparts to become homeless and twice as likely as female civilians. Of the homeless female veterans, half have children, according to Grenier.
“Since 2020 the overall homeless population went down by 10 percent, but there has been an 11 percent increase for women veterans,” Grenier said. “Overall, we’ve done well combating homelessness, but we can’t leave our women behind.”
Contestants for Ms. Veteran America submit their resumes, are interviewed, compete in pushup and lip synch competitions, and are graded on their social media presence, outreach and advocacy in supporting homeless female veterans.
“If I’m crowned, I’ll be the first Coastie and the first Connecticut resident — and the first New Englander,” Grenier said with a smile.
In addition to serving as spokesperson for Final Salute, Ms. Veteran America will receive a $15,000 prize, which can only be used to better herself by spending it on her business, education or a downpayment on a home.
Grenier is currently a professional boat captain, but prior to that she had two small businesses that were damaged by the COVID-19 lockdown.
One is Breezy Seas, science exploration and academic support, and the other is South Coast AI, which provides artificial intelligence technology integration for submersibles.
Grenier said the latter is for remote control vehicles. “Think of an underwater robot for search and rescue for first responders,” she said.
Of the cash prize, she said, “I can use it toward rebooting my small businesses.”
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