October 31, 2019 - Issue: Vol. 165, No. 173 — Daily Edition116th Congress (2019 - 2020) - 1st Session
RECOGNIZING THE WORK OF DR. VIVIANNE CISNEROS WERSEL; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 173
(Extensions of Remarks - October 31, 2019)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Pages E1384-E1385] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] RECOGNIZING THE WORK OF DR. VIVIANNE CISNEROS WERSEL ______ HON. BILLY LONG of missouri in the house of representatives Thursday, October 31, 2019 Mr. LONG. Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize the retirement of Dr. Vivianne Cisneros Wersel. Dr. Wersel has a long and storied career caring for our nation's veterans, and she knows what it means to pay the ultimate sacrifice. She is the widow of Lieutenant Colonel Richard Wersel, Jr. of the United States Marine Corps. Lieutenant Colonel Wersel served two tours of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom and unfortunately died just one week after returning home from Iraq. Dr. Wersel grew from this tragedy and not only continued to help veterans through her role at Walter Reed Medical Center, but also as an advocate for Gold Star Families. Dr. Wersel holds a Doctorate of Audiology from the School of Audiology-Salus University. She is also a graduate of the Defense Language Institute (DLI), Monterey, CA and holds a language certificate in Spanish. She earned a Masters and a Bachelor's Degree in Communicative Disorders (Audiology) from San Diego State University. Dr. Wersel currently works full time as an audiologist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and is designated as a prestigious Master Clinician. In addition to caring for the active-duty military, retirees, and their families, she provides hearing health care for members of Congress, including myself. Over the past 30 years as an audiologist she provided hearing care support to service members, retirees and their families at Camp Pendleton, CA; Twentynine Palms, CA, Nellis Air Force Base, Fort Brag NC, Camp Lejeune NC, Fort Dietrick MD, Fort Belvoir VA, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda. But her service to our nation's veterans goes beyond her role as an audiologist. Shortly after her husband's passing in 2005, Dr. Wersel discovered she was not eligible for the newly enhanced survivor benefits. She subsequently became instrumental in changing the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance and Death Gratuity so that all active duty widows are now eligible for enhanced benefits. Today, she is considered a subject matter expert on Military Survivor Benefits and has testified before this body twenty times on the subject. In addition to her work on survivor benefits, she is a member of the Gold Star Wives of America (GSW) Public Relations; past chair of the GSW Government Relations Committee, President and founder of Arlington Gold Star Wives; military survivor advisor for the ``Got Your Back Network''; is an active participant in the VA/DoD Survivor Forum, and founder of, and advisor to the Surviving Spouses Support Group II MEF, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. She was a local representative for the National Military Family Association and was a volunteer for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) and Military Officers Association of America. Dr. Wersel has devoted her career and her life to caring for our nation's veterans and advocating for Gold Star Families. In recognition of her work and her much-deserved retirement, I will be flying a flag over the United States Capitol in her honor. Madam Speaker, I ask that you and the rest of this chamber join me in congratulating Dr. Wersel on a job well done. [[Page E1385]] ____________________