Former Gitmo Guard Advances in Ms. Veteran America Contest

In this Feb. 2, 2016, photo, a sign for Camp 6 is posted outside the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Ben Fox/AP
In this Feb. 2, 2016, photo, a sign for Camp 6 is posted outside the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Ben Fox/AP

An Army veteran and former Guantanamo Bay guard from Montgomery County has been named one of 25 finalists in a contest that celebrates "the woman behind the uniform."

Erica Walsh, who studies health and physical education at West Chester University and runs her own fitness business, was chosen from about 120 current or former servicewomen nationwide to advance in the Ms. Veteran America competition.

The four-year-old competition scores women based on grace, poise, confidence, and personality. It also quizzes contestants on military history and disregards height, weight, and age.

Walsh will head to Washington in October for the final competition. There, she hopes to be named "Push-Up Princess" — the contestant who does the most push-ups in two minutes. She also hopes to win the special award for entrepreneurship for her two-year-old fitness studio, Dub Fitness in King of Prussia.

Along with the other contestants, Walsh has been raising money for homeless female veterans. She has raised more than $11,800, surpassing her $10,000 goal.

Female veterans are more likely than males to raise children alone and to have been victims of sexual trauma in the military, both factors that increase the likelihood of homelessness, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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