Dr. Vivianne Wersel
Dr. Vivianne Cisneros Wersel is the widow of LT Col Richard "Rich" Wersel, Jr. USMC, who served in Operation Iraq Freedom I and II and died on active duty at Camp Lejeune 2005. Dr. Vivianne Wersel, recently retired as an audiologist from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, works part-time as a CAOHC Course Director for OMI. She was instrumental of creating the Arlington Gold Star Wives Chapter, a chapter that appeals to surviving spouses from the current Iraq and Afghanistan era. Dr Wersel has been a member of Gold Star Wives of America for 15 years.
Dr. Wersel earned her master’s degree from San Diego State University and her doctorate of Audiology from Salus University. Dr Wersel was recognized in the Congressional Record October 2019 for her advocacy for Military families, hearing health care and legislation
She is engaged with numerous other surviving spouses to help provide support as needed. She serves on the American Academy of Audiology Government Relations Committee, Western North Carolina MOAAA Legislative Committee (Chair), and Public Relations for National Gold Star Wives of America Inc.
Brigitte Caboteja is the widow of SSgt. Nicanor Caboteja Jr. A Marine that died on active duty on March 2010 from the effects while serving on Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Brigitte is a former Project Coordinator and Accountant of shipping registry LISCR, LLC, however, left to better focus on her family, education, and volunteer work. Brigitte is a parent of two daughters, one daughter is a junior at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, VA and the other a seventh grader at St. Francis Catholic School. Brigitte has an Associates from Strayer University, however, is currently working on her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park and lives in the Washington DC area.
Kristen became a post 9/11 widow to SFC Carlos M. Santos-Silva, United States Army. She became a Gold Star Wife on March 22, 2010 when SFC Carlos M. Santos-Silva, 32 was Killed in Action [KIA], serving on his 4th deployment in Afghanistan with 82nd ABN, Fort Bragg, NC. She resides in Suffolk, Virginia area with their adult son, Cameron.
Kristen is also a 2015 graduate from University of Southern California, where she received her Master of Social Work (MSW) with a concentration in Mental Health and a sub concentration in Military Social Work. She is currently a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
Currently, Kristen is a Military Family Life Counselor (MFLC) working with military children in the public school system within Norfolk Naval Shipyard, VA.
She is also a veteran of the United States Armed Forces, where her service was in the U.S. Army. Advocate work with the military has included working with the Chief of Staff of the Army [CSA] Survivor Advisor Workgroup, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors [TAPS] as a peer mentor, and care group leader. She is a Board member for Arlington, VA: Gold Star Wives of America, Inc., as current Historian and held a prior position as treasurer. Other volunteer work has included Survivor Outreach Services Volunteer for Fort Meade, MD and American Legion in TN.
She is honored to serve within these different positions as a Gold Star Spouse to raise awareness and social justice support for military survivors while continuing the legacy and respect due to fallen service members within the military. In Kristen’s free-time she enjoys spending time at Virginia Beach oceanfront, reading, exploring nature, spending time with her son and their Labrador-mix dog.
Deborah May is the mother of three. Her hero is SSgt. Donald C. May, Jr., who was killed in action on March 25, 2003.
Deborah has a B.S. in Art from Illinois State University and studied abroad at the Lorenzo de’ Medici School in Florence, Italy. She teaches painting to children and adults. Deborah currently lives in Utah.
Mrs. Catherine Richardson served on active duty in the United States Marine Corps for more than 21 years and is an Afghanistan War veteran. In 2017, Mrs. Richardson retired from the Marine Corps at the rank of Major. Mrs. Richardson is the surviving spouse of Marine Staff Sergeant William D. “Doug” Richardson. She met Doug while serving together on the same Military Police platoon as young Lance Corporal’s. On November 30, 2005, Mrs. Richardson, then a First Lieutenant working on Camp Pendleton, was notified of Doug’s death, halfway through his second combat deployment to Iraq. Shortly thereafter, she joined Gold Star Wives. Mrs. Richardson continued serving on active duty holding a variety of positions including Manpower Officer, Operations Officer, Executive Officer and Information Operations Officer. Mrs. Richardson is a school trained Adjutant, an expert and an instructor of the casualty process - including follow on support for Gold Star families. She holds a Bachelors of Science from Texas A&M University. In 2011, she married Chief Warrant Officer 4 Tony B. D. Richardson, United States Marine Corps (Retired). The Richardson’s are the parents of four young children and reside in Connecticut.
I am the surviving spouse of CPO Larry Pitzer. Though undiagnosed through the VA, he lost his battle with suspected bipolar disorder and PTSD on December 26, 2019 after nearly 20 years of service. I am passionate about veteran mental health care and use my voice as a writer for the Grit and Grace Project (gritandgraceproject.org/author/apitzer) and recently joined TAPS as a survivor care team member after spending the last 8 years teaching high school. I hold a BS in Business, a MS in Education, and am currently working on my Ed.D. I am passionate about pushing change in legislation for Gold Star families, specifically HR 1911 to allow elimination of the remarriage penalty which prohibits those left behind from truly moving forward in their lives. I am a mom to two amazingly strong boys that keep me running around between hockey, golf, football, and basketball. .
Renice Zimmerman is a registered nurse working with both active duty and veteran wounded warriors for the Semper Fi Fund Americas Fund. She herself is an Army Veteran and married to Colonel Douglas Kent Zimmerman II, who died unexpectedly after his 3rd deployment while running at Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) in Suffolk,Va JUne 2006. The Zimmermans have one son, Douglas Kent Zimmerman III, JD who is a professor at George Mason's International Campus Inchon South Korea.
Besides working with her beloved Wounded Warriors, Renice is an avid dog enthusiasts in the sport of dogs, a passion she shared with her late husband . Besides generations of Grand Champion Rottweilers and whippets, her greatest love is therapy work. One of her rottweilers, AKC ptd Andele's Wynd Beneath Eagle Wings, CS,TDI, THD,CGC,RN was the American Kennel Club's Therapy Dog of the Year for her work with wounded warriors and children of the fallen at TAPS for years. Other Zimmerman rottweilers carry the therapy work forward and are also Crisis Response Canines-bringing comfort during catastrophic events.
She is honored to serve with her fellow Gold Star Spouses, who were a major presence in her life moving forward.
Ursula B. Palmer is the Executive Director of Military & Veteran Programs for Cybercrime Support Network. She oversees the coordination and administration of all aspects of the Cybercrime Support Network’s Military & Veteran programs and national outreach efforts in the community. She is a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP®) with more than 15 years of experience in project management, marketing, communications, operations, policy and procedure.
Her prior jobs include HillVets Fellow at the United States House of Representatives working on Veterans issues; Program Manager for Links to Freedom, a non-profit that uses the game of golf as a rehabilitation tool for Wounded Warriors, Disabled Veterans and Gold Star Families; Director of Marketing for Auction Brokers, a real estate auction company; and Marketing Associate for United Way of Central Maryland.
Ursula is the surviving spouse of SFC Collin J. Bowen. He died on 14 March, 2008 of wounds incurred in action while serving in Afghanistan. She is the co-founder of the Gold Star Wives, Arlington Chapter.
Ursula's dedication and resiliency have positioned her as a strong leader among her peers, and was chosen to have her story nationally televised during the National Memorial Day Concert (see segment here).
Contributors and past Members
MAJ Lisa Doring (Ret.), Parliamentarian
Miriam Hamilton, Historian
Ursula Palmer, Vice-President, Website Manager
Danielle Zion, Secretary
Kristen Santos-Silva, Treasurer 2012-2017
Dr. Jill Lamorie, Chaplain 2012-2016
Dr. Tracey Lynn Perez-Koehlmoos, President 2015-2017
Renice Zimmerman, Vice President 2015-2016
Patty Slingerland-Stubenhofer, Secretary 2012-2014
Rosalie Horton, Secretary 2014-2018