Veronica Iris Bates was crowned Miss Maine USA 2021 at the end of the gala, held on June 20, 2021 at the Sheraton Sable Oaks in South Portland, Maine, besting 22 other candidates. Bates will represent Maine at the Miss USA Pageant this fall.
Veronica Iris Bates took home the title of Miss Maine, but it wasn’t easy though. A few days before the competition she had to get her appendix removed. “Two days before the pageant, I had an emergency appendectomy. So, I thought I was going to be taken out of the running. But, my doctors worked with me, my family and friends still supported me, and they pushed me to be my best self. So, going into this, I knew I was going to leave everything I had on stage that night,” Bates said.
Veronica served in the U.S. Air Force, and now she’ll juggle her duties with her studies at American Military University where she’s now enrolled after joining the Air Force out of high school.. “It really helped me to be the person I am today, well rounded, well spoken, so much character building. I can honestly say I would not be the person I am today had I not gone into the military,” she said.
At 19 years old, she spent a year stationed in South Korea. “I knew that school wasn’t really for me, especially after my concussion. It’s not that my grades were bad, I just found education difficult as a whole. And, too, I wanted that real world experience. I wanted to be a more well-rounded person,” Bates said.
Now, she’s studying health science and criminal justice. For personal reasons, she wants to pursue psychology, too.
The 21-year-old beauty queen plans to use her platform to advocate for other veterans who suffer from PTSD. “Everything that I’ve accomplished in my life has been with other people, the biggest one being graduating from basic military training. You know, you’re with a group. This is the first thing I’ve ever done on my own, so it was just a surreal feeling,” Bates said.
“Being a veteran, I was unfortunately diagnosed with PTSD, and that’s something I want to look more into. I want to continue to advocate for my fellow veterans who have PTSD. I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m trying to put my foot down and overcome it, and I know some people aren’t as lucky as I am,” Bates said.
She is not a newbie to the pageant. She first turned to pageants as a junior at Portland High School after suffering a concussion playing volleyball. “I needed something that challenged me. With interview and the lights and the music and the sound, it seemed like a good thing to try to get me back to where I was,” Bates said.