No Man Left Behind

By C. Patterson 

They say ‘heavy is the head that wears the crown’ – that is unless the crown you wear has a purpose that transcends oneself. Such is the case for the crown of Rachel Hedstrom. The current Mrs. Texas International’s reign has been one of prosperity and generosity shown to those who have served in our nation’s military. Her legacy will be one of charity and appreciation for every veteran that she has encountered. She has overcome tremendous physical struggles from birth and traveled many a mile to dig down deep and discover the queen within. Her story makes us all slightly bigger, slightly braver, slightly better citizens than we were before making her a woman that we can’t help but love.


How did you become involved with working with veterans?

The simple answer to that is that I was raised in a house full of veterans. Many generations of my family have served in the military so I was just raised in an environment of appreciation for veterans because I knew first hand what they did for us. And later my friend Suzanne [Flodin] told me about Honor Flight, I thought oh my gosh this is perfect. This is the best way to honor these heroes that we won’t have around with us much longer. So, I really saw it as a great opportunity to do something that would make a difference.


As far as being Mrs. Texas International, what responsibilities come with that and how did you get started in the pageant circuit?

I actually had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Texas 2010 at an event that I was volunteering at and I was really impressed with her. She and I just immediately hit it off. She was accessible, friendly, but inspirational. Her cause was heart disease awareness, that’s what was important to her and I really saw her passion and it inspired me. I said, you know you travel all over the state and talk to all these people you’ve got to be talking about veterans. We’ve got to raise some awareness and money for Honor Flight. She was so sweet, she told me you are so passionate about it you should consider competing for Mrs. Texas because then you could go all over state and talk about this. I was like, me? No way. I am not a pageant girl I wasn’t raised in that. I think it really benefits girls if it’s approached the right way, but for me that wasn’t a part of my life. I spent my childhood recovering from an illness that was very debilitating so that kind of thing was not even in my paradigm.

So I did some investigating and saw that married women can compete and we could do something that was important to us in the community. I started a yearlong journey of improving myself to the point where I thought that I could serve as Mrs. Texas. The first year that I competed I came in third runner up. I competed as Mrs. Collin County. And the second year I took the title.

My day-to-day duties are whatever I want to make them. I travel all over I talk to school kids, a lot of veterans activities, I work very closely with Honor Flight DFW to raise money and awareness for those guys to get them to Washington, D.C. Anything veteran related where I can go and show our collective appreciation for them I try to do.


Greatest moment in your crown…

There is a look of the face of the veterans when you give them a handshake and say thank you for your service. Anyone can do this it doesn’t have to be someone in a crown. Luckily veterans often identify themselves. They often have hats that read veteran or their ship name or unit name or sometimes they will be in uniform. You can find veterans all around you and whenever you shake their hand and say thank you for your service the look on their faces, that’s my best moment.


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