Virginia Wimmer spent 26 years in the United States Air Force, holding a wide variety of duties that “made me a better airman,” she said.
Upon retiring from the military out of Travis Air Force Base in 2012, she began her career working with longtime Solano County Veterans Service Officer Ted Puntillo as a veteran benefits counselor in Fairfield. Two years later, when San Joaquin needed a new County Veterans Service Officer (CVSO), Puntillo endorsed her for the job.
“He said, ‘Fly, my little butterfly. Go to San Joaquin County and do a great job there!’” said Wimmer, who resides in Vacaville.
Now, after seven years as CVSO, Wimmer is ready to spread her wings again – this time as the Deputy Secretary of Women Veterans Affairs, for CalVet in Sacramento.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced her appointment to the position earlier this week. Wimmer has a wealth of experience, not only in understanding the needs of veterans but also knowing CalVet’s role in meeting those needs.
“We’re very excited to welcome Virginia to the CalVet family,” Undersecretary Russell Atterberry said. “We have full confidence that her talents will serve California women veterans very well.”
She already knows many CalVet staff members, having worked closely with them as a CVSO.
“I know the players and the stakeholders in Northern California,” she said. “I want to bridge that, instead of reinventing the wheel. They’ve created wonderful programs. It’s not always about starting from scratch.”
And she would know. She began her career starting from scratch in the Air Force in 1986 after two years of college. Over the next 26 years, her duties included serving in security forces, in health care, recruiting, and as a career advisor.
Wimmer’s credentials made her a natural as a CVSO. After taking over in the San Joaquin County office, she began working with Superior Court Judge Barbara A. Kronlund, CalVet, and other veteran support groups to establish the county’s first Veterans Treatment Court, which debuted in 2015. It identifies veterans in the criminal justice system who are eligible for treatment and court supervision instead of jail or prison.
The program, which began with fewer than 20 veterans receiving treatment and mentorship, now includes nearly 80 veterans.
“We’ve built the capacity to see up to 100, if not more,” Wimmer said.
Earlier this year, Wimmer was honored as one of 27 Women Veteran Trailblazers by the Center for Women Veterans at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. She is certified both as a Mental Health First Aid Facilitator and an Applied Suicide Intervention and Skills Trainer.
She and her husband Mike, a retired Air Force non-commissioned officer, have two grown daughters (Nikkia and Michela).
Wimmer is expected to start her new job in September or early October.