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Published:November 26th, 2006 03:59 EST
New Members Appointed to Advisory Committee on Women Veterans

New Members Appointed to Advisory Committee on Women Veterans

By SOP newswire

WASHINGTON – Six new members have been appointed to the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), an expert panel that advises VA on issues and programs affecting women veterans.

“I am pleased to welcome the newest members of this important committee,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson.  “Women are indispensable contributors to the nation’s security.  This committee will help VA ensure that women veterans receive the world-class health care and other benefits they have earned.”

Established in 1983, the advisory committee makes recommendations to the VA secretary for administrative and legislative changes.  The committee members are appointed to one, two, or three-year terms.

The new committee members include Velma Hart, from Upper Marlboro, Md.; Marlene R. Kramel from Pineville, La.; The Honorable Mary Antoinette (Toni) Lawrie, from St. Petersburg, Fla.; The Honorable Brenda L. Moore, from Getzville, N.Y.; Celia R. Szelwach, from Bradenton, Fla.; and Joanna Truitt, from West River, Md.  

Second only to elderly veterans, women veterans are the fastest growing segment of the veteran population.  There are approximately 1.7 million women veterans.  They comprise 7 percent of the total veteran population and nearly 5 percent of all veterans who use VA health care services.  VA estimates that by 2020 women veterans will comprise 10 percent of the veteran population. 

VA has women veterans program managers at VA medical centers and women veterans coordinators at VA regional offices to assist women veterans with health and benefits issues.  

Membership VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans

  • Shirley Ann Quarles, (Chair), McCormick, S.C.  Colonel, Army Nurse Corps; currently a professor at Medical College of Georgia’s School of Nursing. 

  • Gwen M. Diehl, Taylorville, Ill.  A retired Army sergeant first class; currently staff assistant to the deputy director for operations for the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. 

  • Velma Hart, Upper Marlboro, Md.  A former Army Reserve sergeant; currently national finance director/CFO for AMVETS. 

  • Kathleen Janoski, Pittsburgh, Penn.  A retired Navy chief petty officer; currently working in private industry and active in several civic and military organizations. 

  • Marlene Kramel, Pineville, La.  A former Army nurse with service in Vietnam; retired psychiatric nurse and women veterans program manager with the VA medical center in Alexandria, La. 

  •  Mary Antoinette (Tonie) Lawrie, St. Petersburg, Fla.  A former Air Force Nurse Corps captain with service in Vietnam; retired as coordinator of the women veterans health program at the VA medical center in Bay Pines.  Former Commissioner for the State of Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. 

  • Pamela Luce, Shelbyville, Ky.  A retired Army first sergeant; currently women veterans coordinator for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and benefits branch manager for the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs.  

  • Brenda Moore, Getzville, N.Y.  Served in the Women’s Army Corps; currently a professor in the Department of Sociology at the State University of New York at Buffalo.  Former commissioner of the American Battle Monuments Commission and former member of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS).   

  • Jacqueline Morgan, Seattle, Wash.  A retired Air Force Medical Corps colonel and retired physician. 

  • Lupe Saldana, Fairfax Station, Va.  A Marine Corps veteran and retired from the federal government. 

  • Sara A. Sellers, Johnson City, Tenn.  A retired Air Force master sergeant; former member of DACOWITS and former commissioner of The American Battle Monuments Commission. 

  • Celia Szelwach, Bradenton, Fla.  Graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  A former Army captain; currently self-employed. 

  • Joanna Truitt, West River, Md. Served in several leadership positions in institutions of higher education; currently serves as the D.C. director of the American Legion Auxiliary. 

  • Virgil L. Walker, Oklahoma City, Okla.  A veteran of the Oklahoma Air National Guard; currently employed in private industry.