(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 []



                            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.

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