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Miss Teen Texas International 2014
Miss Teen Texas International 2014 Jahnavi Muppaneni

Moving to America was a dream come true for Jahnavi Muppaneni and her family when she was a child. Enjoying the many freedoms of being an American citizen inspired Jahnavi with a deep appreciation for veterans.  After hearing how budget cuts negatively impacted the men and women who have served in the armed forces, Jahnavi vowed to do something about it, creating her platform, Salute to Veterans, to help get teens involved in supporting veterans.

Jahnavi won the title of Miss Teen Texas International when she was a senior at The Woodlands College Park High School, where she was involved in Dance, DECA, Theatre, Model UN, and Speech and Debate. Currently, Jahnavi is a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Corporate Communications. ("Hook ‘em horns!" Jahnavi is fond of saying.)

Winning the title of Miss Teen Texas International has allowed Jahnavi to spread her message, raising awareness about the challenges faced by veterans by informing teens about the opportunities to support them through volunteering at the Veteran Affairs hospitals and other community-based programs. She began by serving as a Junior Volunteer for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs through the Conroe VA Hospital at age 16, where she volunteered for a total of a 100 hours.

What Jahnavi enjoys most about working with the veterans is hearing their stories and being uplifted by their bravery. For her, it’s sad to see how the very people who gave up their lives for our freedom suffer in today’s world. In fact, veteran unemployment is nearly twice the national average, approximately 33% of all homeless Americans are veterans, and 1 out of every 3 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Veterans and their families only consist of 1% of the population, yet they fought to defend the other 99%. Time is running out to thank many veterans; an average of 600 World War II veterans and 300 Vietnam War veterans die every day.

As Miss Teen Texas International, she also promotes the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women national campaign and she has collaborated with various veteran organizations including the American Legion, Honor Flight Association, Purple Heart Foundation, and the VFW.

This inspiring young lady believes that it's up to today’s youth to listen to and spread the stories of veterans so that kids of future generations can understand the cost of freedom. Jahnavi asks that the next time you see a veteran, be sure to thank him or her, and encourage them to share their story with you!