WDVA Wisconsin Woman of the Year Award: Past Winners

The Wisconsin Woman Veteran of the Year Award recognizes women veterans who have compiled a record of exemplary service as military service members, a veteran, and outstanding members of the community.​ The following women are past award recipients.

2021 Lieutenant Colonel Darcie Greuel, Milwaukee WI

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U.S Army veteran, Lieutenant Colonel Darcie Greuel, is recognized for her volunteer work, service in the US Army Reserve with medical and humanitarian roles, and efforts in developing the Military to VA (M2VA) program in Milwaukee in an effort to better serve post-9/11 veterans.

Darcie's life experiences shaped her passion for helping veterans. She saw active military service on humanitarian and medical missions to

South American countries, and more recently on past deployments in the early 2000s in Afghanistan treating American and Coalition forces, as well as humanitarian assistance to the local population there. These vivid defining experiences gave her a calling to help post-9/11 servicemembers with their eventual transition from military to civilian life.

She became the first registered nurse case manager for a new VA program dedicated to caring for post-9​/11 era veterans. Her team screens for veterans' medical needs and aid by connecting them to VA healthcare, benefits, and community resources. Most recently, her team was rebranded as Military2VA (M2VA) as they continue to reach record numbers of younger veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the community, she has also given her time and skills to volunteer with special events including volunteering to help local senior citizens and handicapped individuals, care packages, support for veterans taking honor flights to Washington D.C. war memorials, and the annual Milwaukee Veteran's Day Parade.

We applaud and are pleased to recognize Darcie Greuel as our 2021 WDVA Woman Veteran of the Year! ​

Lieutenant Colonel Greuel was formally presented the award by Secretary Mary Kolar and Governor Tony Evers on Tuesday, November 9th at the Zablocki Milwaukee VA Medical Center where is currently working as the Post-9/11 Military2VA Program Manager.​

2020​: Joanie Dickerson, Bloomington, WI 



Dickerson, a Bagley resident, dedicated twenty years (1980-2000) to the Navy, achieving the rank of Chief Petty Officer, which provided the opportunity to serve in a variety of leadership positions. Upon her retirement from the military, she continued her service by improving the lives of others in her community.

“From transporting veterans to medical appointments to participating in Veterans in the Classroom, a program that educates young people about the sacrifices of those who have served, Joanie Dickerson exemplifies what it means to be an outstanding community member and veteran," said WDVA Secretary Mary Kolar.  “She used the skills she developed in the military for the betterment of our state's veterans, youth, and community members."

Dickerson has held positions at American Legion Post 482 in Bagley as post commander, service officer, and finance officer. She has served as adjutant on the American Legion Grant County Council and, as a dual member of the American Legion family, she has also served as an officer and active member of American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) Unit 482. 

Dickerson served as a liaison to the county veterans service officer when the American Legion Auxiliary established the state-wide Homeless Women Veterans Grant Fund, which helps women veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and currently serves on its review committee. At the state level, she has served as chairman of several American Legion ALA committees and has advanced through the ALA state officer positions, currently serving as the department president.

In addition to these Legion roles, Dickerson is also an active advocate regarding issues impacting veterans, the military, and their families to ensure the issues impacting them remain in the forefront of the minds of our elected officials.

Dickerson was formally presented the award by Secretary Kolar during a Veterans Day celebration on Wednesday at St. Mary's School in Bloomington, Wisc., where she teaches 5th through 8th grade. During the presentation, a congratulatory video from Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers was played. To see a video the presentation please visit the Women Veterans of Wisconsin Facebook page.​​​​


2019: Gundel "Gundy" Metz, Madison, WI

U.S. Army veteran Gundel “Gundy" Metz was named its 2019 Woman Veteran of the Year. ​

Metz, a Madison resident, served on active duty in the Army for two decades (1975-1995), receiving numerous decorations, certificates, and accolades for her military service. Upon Metz's retirement from the Army, she shifted toward a career in serving veterans in her community. 

“Gundy's commitment to service, even after wearing the uniform, serves as an example of the person we should strive to be," WDVA Secretary Mary Kolar said. “Gundy's tireless work on behalf of veterans and her strong leadership ability has helped our state in our mission of better serving veterans and their families. Her guidance and advocacy have paved the way not only for women veterans, but all those who bravely wore the uniform." 

While serving as the WDVA's Women Veterans Coordinator (2006-2011), Metz advocated on behalf of Wisconsin's women veterans population while also making it her personal mission to track down veterans' military records. She is also credited with leading initiatives to assist homeless and incarcerated veterans, and also creating a fundraising effort known as “Operation Ruck 22" to raise awareness and help curb veteran suicides. 

Most recently, Metz was elected to serve as the State Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Wisconsin, leading 263 posts across the state and representing more than 28,000 members. She was responsible for organizing and sending a delegation of veterans to Washington D.C. to advocate for legislation that has had positive, long-lasting results for Wisconsin veterans and their families. 

“My personal mission has been to continue helping and serving veterans and their families to the best of my ability," Metz said. “I've enjoyed leading by example so that other women in the military — and those in the veterans' community — can exceed the things I've accomplished." 

Metz was formally presented the award by Gov. Tony Evers and Secretary Kolar during a ceremony Thursday evening at Gov. Evers' Executive Residence in Madison. ​

2018: Kim Graff, Milton, WI​

US Marine Corps Veteran Kimberly Graff, Milton, has been named the 2018 Wisconsin Woman Veteran of the Year. Graff enlisted in the Marines two years after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and two years to the day following the unexpected death of her first husband. She became a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense Specialist in March 2013 and trained alongside the Secret Service in Washington D.C. She deployed to the South Pacific and Australia.

Graff remarried (her husband is also a Marine,)​ moved back to Wisconsin, and had a daughter. She retired from the military earlier this year and now serves as a wife and mother to their child and her two stepchildren. 

Graff was selected to receive the Wisconsin Woman Veteran of the Year award for her work to advocate for protections for military families as service members are away on duty, an issue that she took up following her husband’s struggle with the family court system and child placement. She created the “Protecting Military Families in Wisconsin advocacy group and is working to pass the Deployed Parent Custody and Visitation Act in the Wisconsin State Legislature. It currently sits with the Legislative Study Committee on Child Placement and Support and has bipartisan backing. Graff has worked with various Veterans groups and has helped raise money for homeless women Veterans. She will earn her Master’s Degree next year in humanities and currently works as a Special Education Paraprofessional in the Milton School District.​

2017: Connie Walker, Madison, WI

Connie Walker is a a US Navy Veteran who honorably served 23 years, retiring as a Captain. Connie has a passion for working to raise cultural competency of Veterans issues, especially in mental health and healthcare. She is a tireless advocate for Veterans, active duty, and their families. 

Connie is driven to effect change, she says, because of her son Michael, who returned from the War in Iraq with invisible wounds. In advocating for him, she learned first-hand what Veterans and families working to overcome TBI, psychiatric injury, psychiatric illness, and chronic pain have to deal with in trying to get back some semblance of their lives. And while Michael may be the reason she started down this path, she has become a widely respected mental health advocate for a very vulnerable population in this country that needs much better mental health treatment and access to care than it’s getting.    

She dedicates a significant amount of time and energy into spreading knowledge and understanding of Veterans issues throughout Wisconsin. She worked to bring VA's Community Clergy Training Program to Wisconsin for the first time in order to educate faith communities about how they can support Veterans and their families, as well as identify and support rural Veterans with reintegration challenges.

She has established training programs and provided training on many Veterans issues to raise cultural competency of Veterans issues. For instance, Connie is working with UW-Madison to include training on Veterans issues into their medical school curricula; she advocates for the same in nursing, social work and other medical sectors of education throughout the country.

Connie brings people together to create opportunities for individuals and communities to provide better services to Veterans and their families, working with groups like Journey Mental Health to roll-out a community education series on Veterans issues and hosting a workshop at the National Association of Social Workers Wisconsin Annual Conference on post-war recovery and reintegration outcomes.

2016: Cindy Brosig, Sun Prairie, WI

Cindy Brosig is a veteran of the US Air Force, where she served from 1995-2004. As part of the USAF Nurse Corps, Cindy participated in two key military events: she was the clinical nurse for the Howard Air Force Base hospital-to-clinic transformation for the installation’s repatriation to the Republic of Panama and she was the charge nurse of a contingency ward at Landstuhl Hospital in Germany that received 19 wounded warriors from the USS Cole explosion.

Upon leaving the military, Cindy used the G.I. Bill to complete a Master’s degree in Nursing with an emphasis in Animal-Assisted Therapy. She then created “OP: H.E.E.L. - Operation: Healing and Empowering Every Life,” utilizing animal-assisted interventions to connect and care for the entire veteran community, as well as offering supportive visits to military children in school settings. 

She is a community advocate for the Have You Ever Served in the Military campaign created by the American Academy of Nursing in conjunction with the Joining Forces campaign initiated by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden that raises awareness of employment, education, and health care needs of veterans and family members. Cindy is also a National Military Family Association member for the Mid-West region, sharing ideas with 1-147th Aviation Battalion Family Readiness group on health and educational benefits for military families.

2015: Denise Rohan, Verona, WI

Born in McGregor, Iowa, Denise lived in Elkader, Iowa, until joining the Unites States Army in 1974. Denise’s father was a volunteer Fireman, both parents were volunteer EMTs and very active in their church and community. Learning from their parents Denise and her two sisters have always given back to their church and communities in some way.

Denise has served the American Legion for over 32 years. While Post Commander she established Sons of the American Legion Squadron 333 and chartered Boy Scout Troop 333.  

She and her husband are both 2006 graduates of the National American Legion College and 2015 Graduates of the Wisconsin American Legion College - Basic Course. Both have gone on to serve as State and National American Legion College Facilitators.

Denise was employed with the University of Wisconsin Madison as the Assistant Bursar of Student Loans until her retirement in 2012. She managed the University of Wisconsin Madison, University of Wisconsin Green Bay and University of Wisconsin Colleges 120 million dollar loan portfolio made up of approximately 200 different Federal, Institutional and State programs in compliance with all laws, regulations, and policy. She was responsible for the efficiency and design of the computerized student loan accounts receivable system.

Denise currently serves as a volunteer in the 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard Airman and Family Readiness Program.

In 2017, Denise was named the National Commander of the American Legion.

2014: Jennifer Sluga, Waunakee , WI

Jennifer Sluga served in the United States Army from 2004-2010. Her military awards and decorations include: National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/ M Device, NATO Medal and Driver and Mechanic Badge w/ Driver wheeled clasp. ​

Mrs. Sluga's accreditations and memberships consist of: Military Order of the Purple Heart, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, The Enlisted Association, the VFW and the American Legion.  She has assisted with several projects at the William S. Middleton Veterans Memorial Hospital including the Clothesline Project that helps victims of military sexual trauma. She has recently accepted at position at the Madison Vet Center; a community based readjustment counseling center for combat veterans.

2012: ​Nancy Kaczor, Franklin , WI

Nancy Kaczor retired as a Colonel in 2007 after 26.5 years in the Air Force.

Her final assignment was a Senior Official at the Pentagon where she worked for the Air Force Inspector General. Colonel Kaczor investigated allegations of serious misconduct against senior officials as directed by the Secretary of the Air Force, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and the Air Force Inspector General.

Throughout her career, Colonel Kaczor served in various leadership positions at base, wing, major command, and combatant command-levels. The Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and Bronze Star are among the awards and decorations she earned.

Nancy is active in a number of organizations including AMVETS (State Women Veterans Representative), the American Legion, Habitat for Humanity, Honor Flight and Fisher House, accumulating over 350 annual volunteer hours.

2011: Holly Hoppe, Oconto, WI 

hoppe.jpgHolly enlisted in 1971 to the United States Air Force. Holly was one of the first security Police Female Augmentees who worked at the Pentagon, debriefing prisoners of wars upon their release from Hanoi.

Holly was assigned to HQ AF Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) starting a 20 year adventure with tours in Greece, Italy, Germany, Spain, Korea, and Saudi Arabia. Holly volunteered at the 1988 Olympics in Korea. Holly participated in sports during her AF career including basketball, softball and volleyball. She won numerous awards to include the prestigious European Bowling Champion.

After the military, Holly started out as a clerk, then administrative assistant for the Brown County Veterans Service Office. In 2000 she was hired as the County Veterans Service Officer.

2010: Jessica Maple, Mosinee, WI

Jessica has served her country for 14 years in the Air Force and Air National Guard and still serves today. She has supported 3 major deployments and several military training and professional development events in recent years. She has served twice supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. She took time while deployed and volunteered at several base Fallen Warrior ceremonies. She has also been selected as the senior NCO of the Year for the Air National Guard. 

Her medals include: Meritorious Unit Award with 1 device, AF Outstanding Unit Award, Combat Readiness Medal, Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal with 3 devices, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with Gold Border and 3 devices, AF Longevity Service Ribbon, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” device, USAF NCO PME graduate ribbon with 1 device, AF Training Ribbon, and NATO medal.

2009: Majorie Marshman, Madison, WI 

Marjorie joined the Service December 1943 and left January 1946. Marjorie was a Clerk Typist and worked at Cherry Point, North Carolina after attending boot camp at Camp LeJeune. She left the Marine Corps with the rank of Corporal.

Marjorie was one of nine children and all four of her brothers joined the service, so she thought she should too.

Marjorie belongs to the Madison Veterans Firing Squad, American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, Marine Corp League, Madison Veterans Council, Dane County Veterans Service Commission, AMVETS, VA Hospital Volunteer, Pearl Harbor Association and WIMSA.

Marjorie is very active in all the organizations, especially as Chaplain of the Madison Veterans Firing Squad. She presides over the greatest honor of presenting the final recognition of the eulogy and flag presentation to the families for 125 funerals annually.​

2008: Connie Allord, Madison, WI 

Connie enlisted in the Marine Corps during WWII after her husband Larry enlisted in the Sea Bees. She entered service November 1943 and left November 1945. Under the enlistment rules of the day, Connie and Larry could not belong to the same branch of service.

Connie served as one of the first female Air Traffic Controllers at Cherry Point, North Carolina, attaining the rank of Sergeant. She filed flight plans for well known stars of the day such as actor Tyrone Powers, who she reports was very personable and remembered everyone by their name.

Connie has shown little reason to slow down her community involvement. She is active annually with all levels of Toys for Tots. She has participated in many efforts to memorialize veterans through the WDVA museum archives, wreath laying ceremonies and especially encouraging women veterans to share their stories with WIMSA.

Connie has been a member of the Council for Veterans Programs representing United Women Veterans. She has been a member of Finance, Legislative and Program Review, and Long Term Care committees for the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Board. She is a member of the American Legion, Marine Corps League, United Women Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, Women Marines Association, and Women in the Military Service To America (WIMSA).