Today we pay tribute to Col. Wanda Wright (Ret.), one of Arizona’s finest female leaders, as she concludes her service as Director of the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services. In her role as the first female Director of this state agency, Col, Wright was responsible for the work to connect veterans with pension, education, and medical benefits, as well as the operation of two cemeteries and two skilled nursing facilities in Phoenix and Tucson that provide nursing, health and nutrition care for veterans. Col. Wright oversaw the addition of a third skilled nursing home for veterans in the Flagstaff area that is set to open in early 2023.
Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services Accomplishments
- Overseeing the Addition of the Arizona State Veterans Home in Flagstaff and in Yuma
- Championing the Role of Women Veterans in Arizona
- Service as the First Female Director of the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services
- Launching the AZHiresVets! Initiative to Hire Veterans for State Government Positions
But those duties are just the ones that come along with the job description of Director.
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Col. Wright did so much more to better the lives of Arizona’s veterans beyond any job description.
- She worked to build connections between state government and the community by attending events all across the state.
- Col. Wright is a champion for women veterans and women of color by demonstrating that leadership roles are attainable for women.
- Her work has been instrumental in building a statewide network of support for veterans by fostering connections between state government and community-based and non-profit organizations
- Col. Wright has supported key initiatives with partner organizations to provide specialized support for the needs of veterans who are experiencing homelessness and those living in rural parts of this vast state.
- Providing access to higher education and career opportunities for veterans to continue their journey and find a new mission are causes close to Col. Wright’s heart.
- Arizona Roadmap to Veteran Employment
- Arizona Veteran Supportive Campus
- Arizona Veteran Supportive Employer
- Career Navigation
- Not only was her impact felt all across the state, Col. Wright continuously advocated for our state’s veterans on a national stage.
About Col. Wright
Col. Wright graduated from the United State Air Force Academy in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and Engineering. She went on to earn a master’s degree in business administration, a master’s degree in public administration, and a master’s degree in educational leadership.
Col. Wright’s distinguished Air Force career began at the Tactical Air Command at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as deputy budget officer. Her next assignment brought her to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. In 1990, Col. Wright joined the Air National Guard where she served in a variety of roles over the next 21 years. Among her Air National Guard career highlights was serving as Air Commander of Operation Jump Start from June 2006 to December 2008 when she commanded more than 4,000 Air National Guard members.
Col. Wright’s major decorations include the Meritorious Service medal with one oak leaf cluster (1998), the Air Force Commendation Medal (1987), and the Legion of Merit Award (2011).
Col. Wright is married to Dale and has a son and daughter. She is the third generation of her family to serve in the United States military.