WDVA Wisconsin Women Veteran eNews September 2022

Header Women Veterans

September 2022

Badger Tailgate imave

Women Veterans Recognized at UW Badger Home Opener

Saturday, September 3, 2022 -Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Mary Kolar, joined by Veterans of Foreign Wars State Commander, Air Force veteran Michele Rathke and American Legion State Commander, Army veteran Julie Muhle, accepted a game ball from the University of Wisconsin Director of Athletics Chris McIntosh.

For the first time in Wisconsin history, both the VFW and American Legion have a woman veteran serving as state commander simultaneously.

Thank you, veterans & military members. Wisconsin active duty military members and veterans have given their all to preserve the freedoms that were so hard won. 

Check out all of the Salute to Veterans Tailgate images here: 


Held each fall at the beautiful Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison, this award-winning living history program by the Wisconsin Veterans Museum illuminates the lives of prominent and lesser known-figures in Wisconsin history.

Nearly 160 years ago, the Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery in the Civil War South. Did you ever wonder how that event affected Wisconsin? This year, you will learn about four extraordinary Wisconsinites; Howard Brooks, John Jefferson, Nodley Henderson, and William & Anna Mae Miller.

Register for the public candlelight or daytime tours here.


September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and we want to raise awareness on how you can protect yourself, and the veteran in your life, from this complex and tragic health issue. If you or someone is having a crisis, dial 988, then press 1, to get connected to the veteran crisis suicide prevention line.

Signed into law in 2020, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act authorized 988 as the new three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. As part of the law, all telephone service providers in the U.S. had to activate the number no later than July 16, 2022.

Veterans can use this new option by dialing 988 and pressing 1 to contact the Veterans Crisis Line. Veterans may still reach the Veterans Crisis Line with the previous phone number—1-800-273-8255 and Press 1—by text (838255), and through chat (VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat).

More information can be found here. 

The Veteran Crisis Line offers 24/7, confidential crisis support for the Veterans and their loved ones. 

**You don't have to be enrolled in VA benefits or health care to connect.**

2022 WVOTY

Nominations Now Open!

The  Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs 2022 Woman Veteran of the Year nominations are now open. 

To complete the nomination form online click here!​

Starting in 2008, the WDVA has annually recognized women veterans who have compiled records of exemplary service as a military service member, a veteran, and an outstanding member of the community.

Veterans, family members, friends, veterans service organizations, County and Tribal Veteran Service Officers, other veterans groups, and those in the community are encouraged to submit nominations to be considered in this year's process. 

The 2022 Woman Veteran of the Year will be selected by a panel based on a set of criteria.

Nominations will be accepted until September 30, 2022. Questions about the nomination process should be directed to WomenVets@dva.wisconsin.gov.​

Ashley Smits -

Woman Veteran Quarterly Impact Awardee! 

U.S. Air Force Veteran Ashley Smits (Uniform)

The Wisconsin Women Veteran Quarterly Impact Award is awarded to honor a woman veteran who has
greatly influenced and impacted their community. Through challenges big and small, they have effected
change and have helped move Wisconsin women veterans forward.

WDVA is honored to announce that Staff Sergeant Ashley Smits (Veteran, US Air Force) is the most recent Wisconsin Woman Veteran Quarterly Impact Awardee of 2022. 

Ashley Smits served in the Air Force for 8 years from 2005-2014 as a Staff Sergeant (E-5).  She graduated from basic at Lackland AFB and went to training at Keesler AFB, MS shortly after Hurricane Katrina.  She spent time cleaning up the base and even working with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to help the locals rebuild the area. Her first assignment was at Ramstein AB in Germany (2006-2009) where she worked on computers at the Air Force Consolidated Helpdesk.  In 2009, she returned to Lackland AFB and worked at the Cryptologic Systems Division on Security Hill (2009-2014).  During her time here, she won the Client Systems Outstanding NCO of the Year at the MAJCOM level.  She went TDY to MacDill AFB (2011-2012) and worked at CENTCOM HQ supporting the CC Comm Team and managing all communications in the CENTCOM AOR.  Her awards consist of an AF Achievement Medal and Joint Service Achievement Medal.

In 2019, she started the Manitowoc County Veterans group to bring Veterans together with the idea of Camaraderie and Unity at home.  It started with coffee and conversation and expanded to Veterans night outs and quarterly get-togethers with families such as bowling, axe throwing and mini golf.  She has organized a food drive and provided Veteran families in need with the Christmas they deserve.  She has provided gas cards for Veterans to get to and from medical appointments, home help for a Veteran that had surgery, and cut grass for an elderly veteran. 

The group meets regularly in Manitowoc on the 4th Tuesday of the month from 5-7pm at the Sharon S Richardson Community Hospice Conference Room located at 4411 Calumet Ave.  She has brought in speakers such as Ryan Lonergan, the host of Fragout Podcast, Brian Eisch, from the Netflix documentary Father Solider Son, and even Kevin Hermening, who was a POW during the Iran Hostage Crisis. 

The group gives Veterans an outlet and lets them know that they are not alone even after service.  The group is completely volunteer run by Ashley.

Ashley works for Manitowoc County as a Systems Administrator primarily supporting the Sheriff's Office IT needs.  

One of the Air Force’s core values is Service Before Self that she continues to uphold in her community 

Congratulations Ashley Smits!