GI Jill

That’s the Army’s moniker. This one’s not on us. In today’s world of two-way exploitation, the U.S. Army and Utah National Guard Sgt. Jill Stevens seem to be getting quite a bit of mileage from one another. Stevens, who has served in the Guard for six years, is a combat medic. She is also Miss Utah 2007 and will be vying for the 2008 Miss America Crown in Las Vegas Jan . 26. We think that’s great and wish her all the best. The problem comes with the Army’s homepage. Stevens is featured and a link at the screen’s center takes you to GI Jill’s (again their term, not ours) Army homepage, complete with blog and self-promo fodder. We’re not sure if this concept or the site’s content is weirder. Her blog/journal entries spout some true classic material. Unfortunately, it seems the site’s copy editor has been away, doing Stevens no favors. Here’s a gem from Nov. 15:

“It’s funny how these past few months as Miss Utah has related so much to a Military Deployment for me. I feel like on June 29 I received my ‘orders for mobilization’ and I have entered a whole new combat zone as I prep for Miss America. … I guess on a more ‘internal’ note… this really does feel like a combat zone to me. As I have gone to these Miss America events it is like walking into enemy territory as I receive so many judgments/’advice’ from so many that are so willing to shoot them at me. Some bullets I dodge and some hit me hard. There are others that give off ‘friendly fire’ (constructive criticism) and I know that they are just trying to help. My armor is my belief in myself that I can do this.”

Metaphor or not, it’s a beauty pageant. It is not combat. The position of Miss Utah equated to that of a military deployment? Now Stevens did spend over a year as a combat medic in Afghanistan, but relating the two is just bizarre. The Army’s endorsement and posting of this freestyle drivel to its Web site might appeal to a narrow audience but alienate an even larger one. Regardless, Stevens gains exposure going into the pageant prep homestretch.

It gets better. With the pageant fast-approaching, Stevens ratcheted it up a notch: This is no longer about her, it’s about the children — and thus clearly about her scoring points with the judges. Dec. 6:

Since being among the people of Afghanistan and especially the children, a few soldier’s and I saw a great need. Many of these children are without food and live on the streets being subject to sickness and life-threatening situations. Its scary! Seeing that happening right in front of us sparked a desire inside that has now grown into The Afghanistan Orphanage Project, or TAO Project. A few soldiers and I have worked together over the past couple of years to build this project and now we have secured a ‘nonprofit organization’ status, trying to raise money for these children that so need our help. We have had lots of meetings but one of our biggest just took place this last week as we laid out plans for fundraising and filming a Documentary. We have now established a Web site at:”

The Army has moved past promoting Stevens and the Miss America Pageant and is now promoting this nonprofit. Nothing against nonprofits or orphans in any country, but Stevens stands to gain big time if the publicity helps her secure the crown. Pageant officials might like what Stevens brings — the endorsement of the U.S. Army. And the Army? We’re still not sure what Army officials were thinking on this one. It’s just strange.

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