Women Veterans Conference


Morgan Fuerstenberg graphic

The Wright Center for Non-Traditional and Veteran Students hosted a day of events to honor women veterans and veteran students on April 18 in the Nohr Gallery with support from the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, the Office of Professional Program Support and the Dean of Students Office.

The day consisted of an all- day display on women veterans in Wisconsin, a presentation from Natalie Isensee, UW-Platteville alumnus and a roundtable consisting of women veterans and veteran students.

The Nohr Gallery housed the traveling display I Am Not Invisible from the Wisconsin Veteran’s Museum for the day. The display is Wisconsin’s part of a nationwide campaign to elevate the voices and stories of women veterans.

Wisconsin’s I Am Not Invisible campaign consists of a total of 40 interviews with women veterans.
The physical display is comprised
of 16 of these 40 stories on banners accompanied by a small excerpt from the interviews. The complete list of interviews as well as the full transcripts can be found at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum website, wisvetsmuseum.com.

The second part of the day was the keynote presentation from Natalie Isensee, who graduated in 2012 from UW-Platteville with a master’s degree from the Science in Project Management program. Isensee was also named the 2022 Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Woman Veteran of the Year.

Isensee served as an officer in the Marine Corps from 2000 to 2005, reaching the rank of Captain. As part of her active-duty service, she served in Kuwait and Iraq.

Her presentation was split into multiple parts: “What I Learned in the Military,” “What I Learned as a Veteran,” “Moving Forward: Unsolicited Advice,” “Resources for Veterans and Loved Ones” and “Questions to Ask Your Veteran.” 

Isensee’s presentation lent itself to providing comfort and guidance to each type of audience member: veterans in attendance had moments to chuckle and regale common experiences of service; family members and loved ones of veterans were able to connect over the joys and difficulties of deployments, assignments and military life; and the general community member stepped away with a better picture of how to engage with veteran advocacy and support.

As part of Isensee’s final section of her presentation, she shared with the audience what she saw as a good way to connect with veterans in their lives.

“I would like to leave with a call to action and invite you; get to know a veteran,” Isensee said. “I do like to start off with the caution that not everybody who served in the military wants to talk about their experience, but if you do know somebody served or you suspect, here are a couple questions to start the conversation with: ‘Did you serve in the military? Which branch did you serve in? What did you do in your service? What was your job?’”

After Isensee’s presentation and a short break, a group of women veterans and veteran students participated in a roundtable discussion. The following participated in the roundtable: Natalie Isensee, Alissa Mumm, Shanna Casperson, Carla Wages, Deb Rice, Carla McAndrew, Jodi Barnett with Capri Repinski and Rebekah Poh as student moderators.

The Exponent had the opportunity to speak with Greg Tremelling, Coordinator for the Wright Center and Chancellor Tammy Evetovich on the importance of the day’s events.

“Women veterans and service members tend to go unseen. It’s important for us to make sure that when we’re supporting our students, we’re including all of the different aspects of our student body,” Tremelling explained.

“That’s certainly a piece of this. In addition, it’s important for us to highlight the people who provide their service from around the state and we do have some representatives that are both alumni and not alumni who have served in the military,” Tremelling concluded.

“I think it’s really important that the women on our campus have strong role models and so representing that idea with the people we bring to campus is really important.” Evetovich said. “Our speakers and Natalie Isensee today, and even myself, I consider as role models to our female students. I think that’s important that they see themselves in us.”