Created in 2008, the WDVA's Woman Veteran of the Year Award recognizes women veterans in Wisconsin who have compiled records of exemplary service as military service members, veterans, and as outstanding members of their communities.
Later, as Battalion Logistics Officer, 1st Medical Battalion, Camp Pendleton, Natalie met the transportation, weapons, and housing needs of hundreds of reserve medical personnel during their activation to overseas service.
Natalie's leadership abilities and professional expertise continue to serve Veterans and families in our communities, businesses, County Veteran Services Offices (CVSOs), Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) the State of Wisconsin, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
With a background in project management, people leadership, and IT infrastructure Natalie is now the Manager of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at WPS Health Solutions where she leads a team of DEI professionals as they embed DEI into behaviors, systems, and the company's culture. Serving military veterans and their family members is a key aspect of their DEI strategy, as WPS seeks to be an employer of choice and a committed healthcare partner for military service members, Veterans, their families, and communities.
Natalie's contributions to business and to Veterans and families in our communities were recognized by her selection for the Milwaukee Business Journal's Veterans in Business award (large company) in Wisconsin in 2021.
As the former Vice-President of the VET Group (WPS' Veterans Employee Resource Group) Natalie's focus is was on building and sustaining connections among the SMVF population and civilian counterparts by promoting and supporting Veteran programs, services, organizations, and events; increasing awareness of the vital importance of physical and mental health and wellness to Quality of Life; conducting presentations on hiring and supporting Veterans in the workplace, including for the Madison VA Hospital's Annual Mental Health Summit; and hosting a Wisconsin Veterans Museum traveling exhibit in Madison, Wausau, Green Bay, as well as Omaha, Nebraska and Hampton Roads, Virginia.
As the Co-Founder and first President of CUNA Mutual Group's Veterans Employee Resource Group, Natalie's leadership led to the development and adoption of the Employee Resource Group's vision, mission, and charter; success in recruiting a working Executive Committee and Board of Directors; and CEO agreement to sign a Statement of Support for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves (ESGR). This resulted in an increase in proactive and tangible corporate and middle management support for employees serving in the National Guard and Reserves.
Ms. Isensee' s leadership and volunteer initiatives in support of Veterans and families are exceptional. As a Founding Member, Executive Committee Member (Secretary), and continuing active Board member of the Veterans Community Action Network of South-Central Wisconsin (VETSCAN) Board of Directors, Natalie has been the organization's linchpin for connecting that VA-recognized Community Veterans Engagement Board (CVEB) to Veteran-serving organizations in South-Central Wisconsin, including but not limited to the Madison VA Hospital (VAH), CVSOs, VSOs, and UW-Madison, Edgewood College, and Madison Technical College.
As the VETSCAN's Secretary, Natalie has been instrumental in effective and timely communications and collaboration with Veterans and families, the Madison VAH, WDVA, and non-VA community leaders and stakeholders.
(1) Ms. Isensee was requested by name by the Secretary, the Department of Veterans Affairs (SECVA) to follow up with his staff after a SECVA – Madison VAH CVEB Leadership Roundtable in August 2021. In that meeting, Natalie advocated for enhancing the VA's Veterans Experience Office (VEO) website for CVEBs throughout the nation; and creating a schedule for planned communications, education, and training for CVEB Boards of Directors.
(2) In partnership with CVSOs from Dane, Sauk, and Jefferson Counties, Natalie was instrumental in the delivery, disbursement, and final reporting data for over $15,000 in Bob Woodruff Foundation grants (to date). These grants aid Veterans and families facing financial hardship and experiencing food insecurity and other emergency financial needs.
(3) As a member of the VETSCAN's Executive Committee, Natalie's advocacy and outreach to higher education, corporate, and other community leaders, including WDVA and the State Chapters for the American Legion and VFW, resulted in the delivery of over 20 letters of support to accompany the Madison VAH's most recent application for a Madison Fisher House. With those letters of support, the hospital's application for a Fisher House in Madison was finally approved.
This year, Natalie was appointed to Governor Evers' Blue Ribbon Commission on Veterans Opportunity, to help develop a long-term, comprehensive plan to help Wisconsin veterans get the help they may need to meet a wide range of challenges they may face after transitioning from military service to civilian life.
Natalie's other volunteer work on behalf of Veterans and families includes:
Serving as the Community Engagement Director for the Madison Chapter of Team Red, White, and Blue (Team RWB), where she plans community service events, physical activities, and social events, for Veterans and their supporters. Natalie also serves as a Team RWB mentor for Veterans experiencing mental health challenges.
Serving as a Commissioner on the Dane County Veterans Service Commission, which provides input into Dane County's emergency grants for Veterans in need.
Past service as an Oral History Interviewer for the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, supporting the inclusion of Veterans' interviews in the Museum's Oral History Archives.
The life, which is dedicated to the country, the life which protects the life of others, the life, who not lives for self, this award and recognition salute the life of you. Congratulations.