Milwaukee VA Medical Center
Employees reap annual awards
A friendly and familiar face in the Police Service has been honored as Milwaukee VA Employee of the Year.
In addition, two employees who went above and beyond to help a Veteran in fear for her life were named the ICARE Champions of the Year.
Employee of the Year
Alyssa Kopp, management assistant for the Police Service who oversees the campus’ physical security program, was announced as Employee of the Year during a virtual town hall meeting last month.
“This is a great honor,” Kopp said, noting the award was “extremely unexpected.”
“I think all of the Employees of the Month were well deserving of it. But the real winners are the Veterans.”
Kopp, who was named Employee of the Month for September, has been with the Milwaukee VA for some 20 years and is known for her “professional and pleasant demeanor,” according to her nomination form.
“She continually makes a positive impact on the people she works with,” the nomination states. “Hers has become a common name to the many compliments the Police Service receives regarding the support and assistance she provides.”
Kopp was lauded for her “positive energy” and her desire to help everyone in need.
“Her job is stressful and challenging, but you would never know if she was having a low day,” according to the nomination. “She has a special ability to calm difficult situations while explaining options and strategies moving forward.”
The physical security program led by Kopp has become a complex, multi-million-dollar system that has been recognized as a VISN 12 Best Practice.
Kopp also is responsible for inspections, surveys, threat assessments, threat mitigation and identifying vulnerabilities to the facility.
She has built relationships with neighboring law enforcement agencies as well as county, state and federal officials.
“She has demonstrated on numerous occasions to go above and beyond while providing videos, guidance, knowledge and insight to high-profile incidents associated with law enforcement,” the nomination says.
She also serves on numerous committees, including women’s health, sexual harassment, disruptive behaviors and risk assessment.
“I wear a couple of different hats,” Kopp said, downplaying her many responsibilities.
Kopp, who was a police officer before moving into her current role, lives in Pewaukee and said she is proud to work for VA.
“This is all for the benefit of the Veterans,” she said.
Police officer Alan Perry and social worker Debbie Oldham were named ICARE Champions of the Year, stemming from an incident involving a Veteran in danger.
According to the nomination form, the Veteran came to the hospital after escaping an abusive relative, telling workers she was in fear for her life.
She fled the home with all she could carry and had nowhere to go, the nomination states.
Oldham and Perry responded and quickly made arrangements for short-term housing for the Veteran until she could solidify plans to live with a friend out of state.
“While Alan met with the Veteran and calmly reassured her that she was safe, Debbie worked to secure short-term housing. … Once coordinated, Alan arranged for the safe transport of her and her belongings,” the award announcement states.
“Thanks to the teamwork of (Oldham and Perry), this Veteran found the safety and trust she needed,” the nomination states, saying the two “are prime examples of the ICARE values.”
“I admire you all for what you’ve done to take care of our sacred mission, taking care of our Veterans and each other,” Medical Center Director Dr. Daniel Zomchek said during the town hall meeting.
“You really are a model to the rest of us,” he said, citing the “examples, the stories, the things you all have done to excel as model employees. … You found a way to persevere and stand tall over the chaos” of the past year.”