You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Tattooed Kan. Guard sergeant is Miss America contestant

Sep. 12, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Sgt. Theresa Vail, Miss Kansas, takes part in the swimsuit competition Sept. 11 during the first night of the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J.
Sgt. Theresa Vail, Miss Kansas, takes part in the swimsuit competition Sept. 11 during the first night of the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J. (Edward Lea/The Associated Press)
  • Filed Under

There she is, Miss Sarge.

Theresa Vail, the first contestant in the history of the Miss America pageant with visible tattoos — though not sergeant’s stripes — is a member of the Kansas Army National Guard’s Medical Detachment.

With the goal of breaking stereotypes, Vail, 22, revealed two tattoos during the swimsuit portion of the competition Tuesday — the Serenity Prayer on her right side and the insignia of the U.S. Army Dental Corps on her left shoulder.

“Why am I choosing to bear my tattoos?” Vail said in her blog. “My whole platform is empowering women to overcome stereotypes and break barriers. What a hypocrite I would be if I covered my ink. How can I tell other women to be fearless and true to themselves if I can’t do the same? I am who I am, tattoos and all.”

Vail said the military medical insignia, while smaller than the serenity prayer, just as significant to her.

“Since I was a child, God placed a strong passion for service into my heart,” she said in the blog. “Service to my Country, and service to people through medicine. In the middle of this symbol is the letter ‘D’ to represent my dad, whose influence was paramount in choosing this career path.”

Vail is an aspiring military dentist and senior at Kansas State University, with a lot of accomplishments under her MOLLE belt, according to She is a medical detachment section leader, an expert marksman with an M16 rifle, a bowhunter and speaks Chinese fluently. She has earned multiple Army physical fitness awards.

Vail is also dedicated to empowering women as the CEO and founder of the Miss Outdoor Girl brand and website. She is also the director of public relations and spokesperson for the hunting company Suburban Woodsman, according to the Miss Kansas website.

She held the title of Miss Leavenworth County on the way to becoming Miss Kansas.

Vail follows in the footsteps of Sgt. Jill Stevens, a member of the Utah National Guard's 1st Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment, who took a shot at the Miss America title in 2008. Stevens is combat medic and Miss Utah 2007.

The Miss America pageant’s finale will be Sunday night. The pageant is back in Atlantic City, N.J., after a six-year absence.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Army Times

This Week's Army Times

CrossFit vs. unit PT
Troops will do the training plans in a $2.5 million study

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook