CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — An U.S. Army specialist and the current Miss Colorado is on a mission to shine a light on mental health in the military.
Maura Spence-Carroll is a U.S. Army specialist security manager stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado. She is set to represent Colorado in the Miss America pageant next month.
Spence-Carroll was diagnosed with ADHD while she was in the Army, where she got a better understanding of how behavioral health is managed in the military. She said that while the conversation around mental health in the military has improved, she said a cultural shift within the military is needed.
“The military community is very insular, we’re a very tight-knit community but we also have difficulty meeting up with the rest of society. So we’re culturally about five to 10 years behind the civilian population,” said Spence-Carroll. “So even though in the civilian sector, we’re seeing people talk about mental health care and say that it’s OK to receive help, we’re still not seeing service members receive that same care.”
Spence-Carroll says she just doesn’t view herself as a military specialist but as a future leader which shifts her perspective when leading conversations about mental health. She hopes her work makes a lasting impact on soldiers across the U.S. military.
“It’s OK to receive care, it’s OK to ask for help, it’s OK to receive treatment,” she said.
She said that if she wins the Miss America pageant she would want to pass legislation around veterans’ mental health.
“I want to also get legislation passed, that will ensure that service members are able to receive care anonymously so that they don’t have to worry about their chain of command accessing their medical records,” she said. “I would also want to talk to veterans themselves, thank them for their service and ensure that the VA is doing what they need to to provide those services.”