Hundreds of veterans, community leaders, elected officials, and others gathered at Travis L. Williams American Legion Post in Glendale on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023. It was a bittersweet occasion as it was time to say farewell to Col. Wanda Wright, Director of the Arizona Department of Veterans Services (ADVS).
Wright leaves her term after eight years of service as a political appointee. She was tapped in 2015 to be the Director of ADVS in 2018 and was the first female and woman of color to hold this position. During her tenure, she had several significant accomplishments, including:
- More than 50,000 veterans were educated through outreach programs.
- Distributed $6.4 million from the Arizona Military Family Relief Fund to help veterans and families in need.
- Built two new Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemeteries.
- Built two new Arizona State Veterans Homes, adding 160 beds statewide.
Wright says, “I was honored to be selected by Governor Ducey to serve on his Cabinet, and this has been my dream job. I am proud of my ADVS team for giving Veterans the best opportunity to access federal and state services and benefits. The data shows that we increased benefits for our disabled Veterans by 250%, from $18 million to $74 million per month. We managed COVID-19 while keeping residents and staff safe in our State Veteran Homes while maintaining 5-star status.
Arizona is home to 600,000 veterans who bring in millions of dollars in state benefits. Congress charters numerous Veterans Service Organizations. Some of those include the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Jewish War Veterans, Veterans of Foreign War, and Vietnam Veterans of America, to name a few. Other organizations support the military and veterans through nongovernmental activities or as nonprofits.
Wright is a 1985 USAF Academy graduate. After graduating from the Academy, she served for several years on active duty, then transferred to the Army and Air National Guard, where she retired as a Colonel.
“I will miss the wonderful people I have worked with over the last eight years, including Veteran Service Organizations, VA local and national leadership, state and federal legislators, and stakeholders. I loved serving our Arizona Veterans every day,” she adds.
Governor Katie Hobbs has selected a new Director, Dana Allmond, to fill this position. Allmond, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, is a 1994 West Point (Army) graduate. You can learn more about ADVS online at https://dvs.az.gov/.