After having competed in the Ms. Veteran America semi-finals in the spring, a Pilot Mountain native is preparing to compete in the finals on Oct. 8 and 9 in Washington, D.C.
Molly Mae Potter successfully made her way through the semi-finals of the competition in in Las Vegas in May, and now is getting ready for finals in the nation’s capitol.
Although she now resides in Austin, Texas, Potter still calls Pilot Mountain home and said she’s excited to represent the area in the competition.
But she’s not putting her life on hold in preparation. Before buckling down to expand her already near encyclopedic knowledge of female related military issues, Potter left for Svallbard, Norway, the northernmost geographical destination on the planet than maintains a year-round population, last Sunday and plans to stay there for a two-week period.
The reason for Potter’s trip is due in part to a hobby that she takes seriously — travel photography, having picked up the hobby while accomplishing her goal of visiting all seven continents by the age of 30. She reached that goal on the day of her 30th birthday when she visited Antarctica with her mother. Potter used travel photography as her talent during the talent portion of the competition in May.
The main reason behind traveling to Svallbard in particular is because of her desire to capture images of polar bears, which she plans on using during the talent portion of the Ms. Veteran America finals, in addition to a monologue detailing her efforts.
“I really try to capture the people and the landscape, raw beauty from the world,” Potter said of her photography philosophy.
According to Potter, in order to be eligible to compete in Ms. Veteran America competitors must have been honorably discharged, adding that there’s no cookie cutter contestant, citing that last year’s winner is a Vietnam veteran as an example.
The only similarity between Ms. Veteran America and a traditional beauty contest that Potter cited was the fact that Ms. Veteran America does feature an evening gown portion.
Since January, Potter has raised $16,000 to assist homeless female veterans through the organization Final Salute, enough to run a transitional housing facility for three months. Despite raising such a large sum of money, Potter said that she’s not done, adding that she wants to raise another $4,000 by October.
“The thing that I would love to bring home is the fundraiser award, being able to know that I provided four full months of transitional housing for families,” Potter said of her desired outcome of the competition.
Potter contributed a large portion of her success to the support that she’s received from the Pilot Mountain Women’s Club, having raised $1,000 during Mayfest with their assistance.
Potter said that the need to assist female veterans is urgent, citing staggering statistical figures, including the fact that female veterans with children are the highest among homeless populations. Potter cites the fact that one in four female veterans don’t even consider themselves to be a veteran, rather viewing their service as inferior to their male counterparts.
Potter is no stranger to the struggles of being a female veteran, having gone through a turbulent period of her life following an injury caused by a rocket blast while she was deployed in Afghanistan. That experience has served as her motivation.
Potter plans to spend several weeks before the finals in her hometown of Pilot Mountain preparing for the competition, time which she said she is greatly looking forward to.
“Pilot Mountain is still home to me. I come home a lot to breath the Pilot Mountain air,” Potter said with a noticeable degree of excitement in her voice.
Aside from travel photography and competing in Ms. Veteran America, Potter has been employed by Dell for the past two years.
“They helped me transition to civilian life,” Potter said, adding that the company has been supportive of her efforts in assisting other female veterans.
Anyone interested in assisting Potter in achieving her $20,000 goal should visit https://www.crowdrise.com/mva2016mollymaep for more details.