An Inkom beauty queen who will represent Idaho in the next Miss America Pageant has started a new Idaho State University chapter of the veterans service organization American Veterans.
Ayriss Paije Torres, 21, who is a civil affairs specialist with the U.S. Army Reserves and a current ISU student, spearheaded the effort to form the new AMVETS Bengal Post 1901, which officially launched on July 15.
Torres was crowned Miss Idaho on June 19 and will represent the Gem State in the prestigious Miss America competition in December. The national pageant will be broadcast on NBC from the Mohegan Sun Resort in Connecticut.
Torres, who is studying political science, pre-law and finance at ISU, said the new AMVETS post has 17 members who are attending ISU or have graduated from the Pocatello-based university. She said the post has already received several inquiries from additional Bengals who are active military or veterans and would like to join.
The Bengal post hosts its meetings at noon on the third Thursday of each month at Goody’s Deli & Pub, 905 S. Fifth Ave. Anyone interested in joining may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Torres said there are now 15 active veterans’ organizations in Bannock County. She’s especially supportive of AMVETS for its efforts to advocate for good physical and mental health care for veterans.
AMVETS boasts more than 250,000 members nationwide and exists to enhance the quality of life for veterans, their families and survivors.
“I really wanted to be part of something that was geared more toward the younger generation,” Torres said.
For her part, Torres, who works as a loan officer for Idaho Central Credit Union in Chubbuck, aims to serve veterans and military members by teaching them about financial literacy. She’s scheduled to teach a financial education class specifically for veterans at 7 p.m. Aug. 12 at the veterans building in Pocatello at 300 N. Johnson Ave.
The service member’s trailblazing efforts as a pageant competitor haven’t gone unnoticed by the U.S. Army, which has shared posts on social media about her successes.
“Introducing Ayriss Torres, this years Miss Idaho,” the U.S. Army shared on Twitter. “Not only will she be representing Idaho, but also the United States Army! She will be a role model for women and girls all over the country!”
Torres explained she initially wanted to join the Peace Corps based on a desire to serve. She found the experience rewarding when she went on a service mission in 2015 to help the residents of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, rebuild from Hurricane Odile. Unable to get accepted into the Peace Corps, she joined a U.S. Army Reserve program that offered a similar experience.
Her unit, based in Salt Lake City, is tasked with providing emergency relief to the Asia Pacific area. On most deployments, she’ll wear civilian clothing and won’t carry a weapon.
“It’s my goal in everything I do to serve other people,” Torres said. “The military has given me a really great outlet to not only sacrifice but to have it mean something larger. It gives me a lot of fulfillment being able to say I do that.”
She’ll be performing a jazz dance routine during the Miss America Pageant’s 100th anniversary.