Milwaukee VA to mark 9/11 with ceremony - Milwaukee VA Medical Center
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Milwaukee VA Medical Center

 

Milwaukee VA to mark 9/11 with ceremony

Castner gravestone

An American flag stands in front of the gravestone of Cpl. Stephen Castner, one of seven post-9/11 Veterans who will be remembered during a Wednesday ceremony in Wood National Cemetery at the Milwaukee VA.

By David Walter
Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Milwaukee VA Medical Center will mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks with a private wreath-laying ceremony in Wood National Cemetery.

Wreaths will be placed on the graves of seven local service members who died in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 10 a.m. ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 8.

The fallen Veterans to be honored:

  • Spc. Scott T. Nagorski of Greenfield
  • Cpl. Stephen W. Castner of Cedarburg
  • Sgt. 1st Class Scott J. Brown of Brookfield
  • Spc. Michelle M. Witmer of New Berlin
  • Spc. Michael A. McGlothin of Hartford and Milwaukee
  • Cpl. Adrian V. Soltau of Milwaukee
  • Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell of West Bend and Menomonee Falls

After the ceremony and over the lunch hour, employees are invited to stop by the Lake Wheeler pavilion for a “Welcome Home” gathering and resource fair. There will refreshments and giveaways.

va remembers logo

The resource fair, snacks and giveaways will also take place at the Milwaukee VA’s community-based outpatient clinics:

  • Union Grove: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7.
  • Appleton: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9.
  • Green Bay: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10.
  • Cleveland: 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10.

The events are organized by the Post-9/11 Military 2 VA Case Management Program at the hospital, which works exclusively with post-9/11 Veterans.

“The 20th anniversary is a huge milestone,” said Darcie Greuel, program manager. “We had to do something to commemorate it. This population is near and dear to me.”

And that isn’t just because she heads the program – Greuel is also a post-9/11 Veteran.

Eighteen months after 9/11, Greuel found herself deployed to Afghanistan, where she worked as an Army medic for about a year.

“My life changed that year, and my experiences in Afghanistan will never be forgotten,” she said.

Serving post-9/11 Veterans

In 2007, she was named to head the fledgling program VA created to serve post-9/11 Veterans.

“It was like a calling,” she said. “I was perfectly made for that position, to continue with that work of helping people who were still deployed and going to war, and to help them transition back into our VA in Milwaukee.

“It’s been such an honor and a wonderful opportunity,” she said. “I was there -- I’ve lived that experience -- and that helps me relate.”

The M2VA (formerly known as Transition Care Management) aims to provide a seamless transition for post-9/11 Veterans entering civilian life. The case workers have contact with all post-9/11 Veterans and work with them on their health care and benefits.

“It’s been such an honor and a wonderful opportunity (to work with post-9/11 Veterans). I was there – I’ve lived that experience -- and that helps me relate.”Darcie Greuel, Post 9/11 Military 2 VA program manager

The transition from military to civilian life can be difficult, and it is more so with post-9/11 Veterans, Greuel said.

“This era of Veterans is very complex, especially if they’re coming back seriously ill and injured,” she said.

And the program isn’t solely for Veterans who saw battle.

“We see so many people who never go to theater, but they're injured or suffer from injuries or whatever in training, or wherever they were deployed,” she said.

Seven-member team

The seven-member team – which covers the Milwaukee area as well as the four community-based outpatient clinics -- has four case managers as well as two transition patient advocates.

Those team members are mandated to work with “every single post-9/11 Veteran who comes through our doors,” Greuel said, noting that some need simple connections to appointments while others need much more.

“Their lives can be very complicated, and we reach out to them regularly, checking in and making sure things are going good,” she said, adding that the team is ready to help if more services are needed.”

Isaac Armstrong, a transition patient advocate on the M2VA team, joined the Army after 9/11 and was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2009.

“I’m very grateful to serve these men and women and hope my assistance can positively impact their well-being,” he said.

Fellow team member and social worker Wesley Christiansen agreed, saying many of the Veterans he serves are peers.

“I feel a strong sense of commitment, pride and obligation to take care of them as best as I can,” he said.

It’s that kind of commitment that Greuel said makes her job a pleasure.

“I don't think I've ever worked in a program or on a team that had so much passion for their work,” she said. “The team is just so dedicated. They’re all just top-notch.

“I’m also very passionate, and I really care and want to help people. I want them to come to VA and get the care they deserve.”

To contact the team, click here or call 414-384-2000, ext. 41826.

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