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 outstanding members of their communities.
Kerry McAllen, CSM (USA Retired), began her military career when she enlisted in 1990. Kerry served 2.5 years of active duty in Wiesbaden, Germany, as a light-wheeled vehicle mechanic. After she returned to the United States, she joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard. She served another ten years as a Track Vehicle Repairer, Automated Logistical Specialist, and Wheeled Vehicle repairer. During that time, she also earned the Additional Skill Identifier Master Fitness Trainer distinction. While serving in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, Kerry obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts, Radio, Television, and Film in 1999.
In 1999, Kerry started working alongside her father to grow their family Commercial Real Estate business, McAllen Properties. She transferred to the Army Reserves in 2004. As a member of the Army Reserves, Kerry served two overseas combat deployment tours. During her first deployment to Kuwait in 2004, she was a Direct Support Mechanic, Tool Room custodian, Recovery Specialist, and Maintenance Support Team Leader.
After Kerry's first combat deployment, she joined her local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post and became an active volunteer and member. Kerry served her second deployment in 2009 as a brigade logistics liaison and provided daily briefings to the one-star general who oversaw logistics in all of Iraq. In 2015, after Kerry returned from her second deployment, she took over her family's business as President and CEO. Kerry proudly retired from the Army Reserves in 2020.
Kerry has taken the knowledge that she gained in her 31 years of military service to not only serve her country honorably but also to apply it to strengthening her friendships and assisting her community.
Kerry has taken the initiative to share the knowledge that she has gained to help up-and-coming military members navigate the system. For Kerry, rank does not matter. Kerry has made it her mission to advocate for veterans not enrolled in their earned VA benefits. She takes the time to help; she has accompanied her soldiers to the VA to assist them in navigating a complicated system that is often confusing and overwhelming.
Kerry is not one to sit by idly; She has held many volunteer positions within the VFW. Kerry served two years (2019-2021) as the Commander of The Day Post 7591 of Veterans of Foreign Wars and earned “All American" status in 2020. This is not something that she did on her own, but with her leadership and dedication, she was able to motivate VFW Day Post 7591 of to this national honor. To be able to obtain this honor, Kerry had to have a membership base of at least 102% (in a VFW Post of 511 members), conduct two Membership recruiting events, submit Post-Election reports to National Headquarters, have at least one entry in the Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen essay contest advance to district judging, raise a minimum of $100 to support Veterans & Military Support Programs Services, put forth a National Citizenship Education Teachers Award to the state-level VFW for judging, submit a community service report quarterly, and purchase 1,533 Buddy Poppies, which is equivalent to three for each post member (information obtained from VFW National Membership Program book). While part of VFW Day Post 7591, Kerry was honored with the All-State award 2019-2021.
Kerry continued serving the VFW in positions of greater responsibility as the District 2 Commander and then helped mentor the next District 2 Commander to prepare them to take on that leadership position. In 2021, Kerry was elected the Wisconsin State Jr. Vice Commander. Kerry has also taken on many positions at both the Department and National Levels in the VFW:
- National By-Laws Committee 2020-2023
- 2020 VFW National Security & Foreign Affairs Committee
- Honorary National Chief of Staff 2019-2021
- State of Wisconsin VFW Chief of Staff 2020-2021
- State of Wisconsin Deputy Chief of Staff 2019-2020,
- State of Wisconsin VFW Recorder 2017-2019
- Wisconsin VFW Legislative Committee Member 2019-2021
- Wisconsin VFW Centennial Celebration Chairman 2019-2022
- Wisconsin VFW Building Committee 2020-2022
- Wisconsin District 2 Commander 2021-2022
- Wisconsin District 2 Sr. Vice Commander, 2020-2021
- Wisconsin District 2 Adjutant 2017-2019.
Kerry has continued to serve VFW Day Post 7591 of Veterans of Foreign Wars as a trustee and by assisting with financial management. Kerry was also a fixture at drive-thru brat fries and Buddy Poppy drives throughout the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. She also volunteers to help with weekly bingo, regular cash raffles, and state calendar sales.
Kerry took a ruck march around Madison to bring awareness and prevention of Veteran and Military suicide to a new level by assisting in the formation of Operation Ruck 22 of Wisconsin. Kerry was the first President of Operation Ruck 22 of Wisconsin and served in that capacity for five of the eight years of this event. In the last two years, Kerry has been a trustee and Past President of Operation Ruck 22 of Wisconsin. Kerry has been influential in maintaining Operation Ruck 22 of Wisconsin as an ever-growing organization that supports veterans in their times of need. Kerry has also taken the time to mentor each person on the planning committee of Operation Ruck 22 of Wisconsin to help the committee be the best it can be while fostering each person's unique talents. Kerry has a knack for finding a way to motivate each person while understanding that their way of motivation may not be her way of being motivated. Kerry is a driving force behind the organization and has helped raise over
$82,000 for local organizations that reduce Veteran suicide.
Kerry continues to break through many barriers with her extensive military achievements. She is also an inspiration to young women, both within military ranks and the civilian world. Kerry achieved the rank of E9 (Command Sergeant Major), an “All American" post, and spearheaded the continuation of Operation Ruck 22 of Wisconsin, all while working full time as President and CEO for her family's multimillion-dollar company and while serving her community outside of these ventures, all while being in a male-dominated military structure and a disabled veteran.
Kerry didn't decide to sit back and do nothing after she retired from the Military. She leaned harder into her volunteer work and the continuance of her family business. A project that has recently become a top one in Kerry's volunteer portfolio is The UW MIA Recovery and Identification Project. She has contributed to fundraising efforts that help return missing Wisconsin service members to their families and donated her time to travel to Brussels to aid in a recovery mission of an MIA WWII soldier. Kerry takes every opportunity to share the knowledge that she has about this project and recount the stories of her experiences on the dig project in Brussels.
Kerry helped make The UW MIA Recovery and Identification Project a well-known initiative when she found out that a namesake of VFW Day Post No. 7591 was an MIA WWII soldier. Kerry has taken on a project at VFW Post 7591 to put together a feature wall that educates the Post and the public about the namesakes of VFW Day Post No. 7591, Galen Day Sr., Donald Day (KIA WWII) and Galen Day Jr, (MIA/KIA WWII). Kerry has taken the time to reach out to the Day family members to find more information and to work on honoring these men.
Kerry has had an exemplary Army career, a successful career in her family business, and a track record of valuable volunteer work. Kerry has taken the time to mentor veterans and civilian volunteers. She has taken Operation Ruck 22 from a grassroots organization to one that just finished its 8th annual event. Kerry has taken the time to find organizations that need support and give her all to them. Even though Kerry retired from the military in 2020, she accomplished many things while serving as a part-time soldier, a full-time employee, and employer and volunteer.