Veteran Minority Advisory Panel Group Milwaukee
Community Panel Regarding Outreach to Veterans with Diverse Backgrounds
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked: What can you do for others?
January 19, 2021
Bio: CHARLES ALLEN, MD, CFI 2
National Member on the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans
Department of Veteran Affairs
Charles E. Allen, MD is a retired Air Force Officer, ( Major, KC 135 Tanker Pilot, 23 combat flights during the Gulf War), a retired family practice physician and former project director for UW-Milwaukee (UWM) Veterans Upward Bound (VUB). He currently is an associate lecturer of chemistry-biochemistry at UWM and national director of education, training, and mental health for the National Association For Black Veterans (NABVETS), headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Dr. Allen has over 35 years of experience working with veterans, as a physician he did rotations at the Zablocki VA in internal medicine, surgery, and psychiatry. As project director for VUB and national director of education, training, and mental health for NABEVTS, he has been responsible for ensuring veterans and their dependents are provided the resources and training for improving basic skills, assisting in job placements/training, and wellness. Dr. Allen has over 45 years of teaching experience in both secondary and postsecondary institutions. Dr. Allen is a certified flight Instructor (CFI), serving as the chief pilot for New Beginnings Aviation Ministry and training officer for Wisconsin Civil Air Patrol.
A native of Hallandale Beach, Florida, Dr. Allen earned his BS in chemistry/biochemistry from Rocky Mountain College, Billings, MT; his masters in health services administration from Central Michigan University and his medical degree from Maria Dehostos, School of Medicine, Dominican Republic. Dr. Allen is very active on several veteran boards: National Association For Black Veterans (NABVETS), former chair of the National Command Council); board member Center For Veterans Issues (CVI); Milwaukee County Veteran Board of Directors; Allied Veteran Council of Milwaukee; Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW); and former member of the Long Term Care Committee for the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.
Married with six children (2 that are flight surgeons; Charles Jr, Lt. Col 115th Tactical Fighter Wing, Wisconsin: daughter Casandra Howard Brigadier General, chief Air Surgeon Tennessee Air Guard): son BS in mechanical Engineering: daughter, PHD in nursing education: daughter, BS in communication; and son BS in Information Technology. TRIO WORKS!
BIO: Fernando H. Rodriguez
Now Retired from the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, Fernando remains active in Veterans Service Organization in particular in Latino veterans’ affairs, and believes that Latino veterans have been left behind when it comes to obtaining benefits. For that same reason he is active in the American GI Forum and has helped formed the one first chapter in Wisconsin, he is presently the Secretary. The GI Forum is the largest and oldest Latino Veterans organization in the nation. Fernando is active with the David Valdes Post #529 of the American Legion, the only Post in Wisconsin that honors the name of a Latino. He has served as Service Officer, Adjutant and Commander. Fernando is also involved with the Marine Corp League and the Military Order of the Purple Heat
Fernando was born in Burlington, WI, of Mexican descent, during the migrant season. He spent the first 5 yrs of his life living in Mexico, with his Mother, Brother and Sister, all US citizens, because of an immigration policy in effect at that time, called the “Operation Wetback” and his Father was not “legal” at that time.
He is a disabled USMC combat veteran who served in the Vietnam War. He retired from combat after receiving a Purple Heart for wounds sustained while involved in the defense of a village being overrun by Vietnamese forces. Fernando works at the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, as the Assistant Director of the Veterans Assistance Program, a statewide network of transitional housing for homeless veterans in joint collaboration with the USDVA. Presently he is stationed at the VAMC Grounds at the Milwaukee Veterans service Center, a collaborate effort between USDVA, WDVA and the Milwaukee County Veterans Service Office.
Fernando, has been active in veterans’ affairs for over 25 years. He is a member of many veteran organizations such as The American Legion, The Disabled American Veterans, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Veterans of Foreign Wars, National Association for Black Veterans; Marine Corp League and the Milwaukee Homeless Veterans StandDown Inc.,
Fernando is also active in Latino veterans’ affairs, and believes that Latino veterans have been left behind when it comes to obtaining benefits. For that same reason he is active in the American GI Forum and has helped formed the one first chapter in Wisconsin, he is presently the Secretary and interim Treasurer. The GI Forum is the largest and oldest Latino Veterans organization in the nation. Fernando is active with the David Valdes Post #529 of the American Legion, the only Post in Wisconsin that honors the name of a Latino. He has served as Service Officer, Adjutant and Commander.
Gwendolyn (Gwen) M. Sheppard,
Major (retired), USAFR
Gwen entered the Air Force as a cadet at the Air Force Academy. She spent 2 years active duty at the Academy before transferring to North Carolina State University (NCSU). She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering at NCSU. She entered the Air Force Reserves in 1984 as an Airman First Class. She served in the Missouri Air National Guard and the California Air National before being commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy Reserves in 1989. She served in various positions with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 17, the PHIB “Seabees” Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, NMCB 25 and Engineering Field Division Pacific Division.
In September 1997, Gwen transferred to the Air Force Reserves serving with the 440th Civil Engineer Squadron. She deployed to Kuwait in 1999 and was recalled to active duty in 2003 in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom where she served as an Engineering Officer at Baghdad International Airport.
Gwen served as Squadron Commander of the 440th Civil Engineer Squadron. She served as a special projects officer at HQ Air Force Reserve Command, Robins AFB, GA where she assisted with matters pertaining to Air Force Reserve Officer and Enlisted Force Development, Civil Engineer training requirements and website development.
Gwen retired as a Major in the Air Force Reserves in January 2009.
As a civilian, Gwen worked as a field engineer for Bendix Field Engineering Corporation. She was contracted to Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to tracking deep space missions such as Pioneer Missions, Voyager Missions, Space Shuttle Missions, Satellite launches and others. She also worked as a software engineer for many Fortune 500 Companies across the United States. These companies included CSC, TRW, Quad Graphics, Northwestern Mutual Life, RJ Reynolds Tobacco, and others.
Gwen spends her time coaching air rifles/air pistols and archery for the Air Force Wounded Warrior (AFW2) Program. She competed for AFW2 at the Wounded Warrior Games for three years beginning in 2011. She still competes in Archery and Air Rifles tournaments. Gwen enjoys shooting trap, motorcycling, fishing and geocaching.
Gwen is a member of many Veteran Service Organizations.
Aloysius “Ali” Nelson
Division Director of Kenosha County Veterans Services and Commissioner of Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission
On August 10, 2015 Ali Nelson was appointed in his current position as the Division Director of Veterans Services in Kenosha County, responsible for county population of approximately 13,500 veterans.
Ali Nelson is jointly appointed by the Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser and the Governor of Wisconsin to serve on Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) representing Kenosha County for a six-year term ending September 15, 2022. As a commissioner he is the chairperson for SEWRPC Environment Justice Task Force for the seven-county region.
Ali Nelson served from September 2011 to August 2015 as the Racine County Veterans Service Officer, responsible for county population of approximately 15,000 veterans.
Ali served from March 2012 to October 2014 as President of Southeast Region County Veterans Service Officers Association, and from April 2015 through April 2019 as training officer for County Veterans Service Officers Association (CVSOA) of Wisconsin consist of 72 counties. In October 2020 Ali was elected as 2nd Vice President for CVSOA of Wisconsin.
Ali was elected on December 2020 as Sire Archon (President) for Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity – Gamma Tau Boule the chapter of Kenosha/Racine.
Served on the Board of Director (Vice Chair 2018 to 2019) for Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin Tiny Homes Village for Homeless Veterans located in Racine WI
Received Certificate of Recognition from Governor Scott Walker and Secretary of Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs John Scocos for selfless devotion to duty as Director of Veterans Services for Kenosha County in 2016.
Ali served 28 ½ years in the U.S. Navy from December 21, 1981 to June 30, 2010, he served as the Region Command Master Chief of Navy Region Midwest and Naval Station Great Lakes. In addition, Ali served as Command Master Chief of the USS Austin, an amphibious transport dock ship, and Master Chief Petty Officer onboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
Mr. Nelson has an Associate of Arts degree in Human Resources Management from Coastline Community College; a Bachelor of Science degree in Workforce Education and Development from Southern Illinois University; a Master of Arts degree in Human Resource Development from Webster University.
Mr. Nelson and his wife, Terina, live in Kenosha, Wisconsin and they have three adult children and one granddaughter.
Director of Equal Employment Opportunity
I am currently the Diversity and Inclusion Officer of Milwaukee VA Medical Center, and an Alumni of Indiana University. A native of South Bend IN and a Desert Storm era Army veteran, Will is Minority Veterans Coordinator, Certified Mediator, Harassment Prevention Coordinator, trainer of Unconscious Bias, Diversity, and Conflict Resolution. In his current position he is responsible for establishing and maintaining a model Equal Employment Opportunity program in Zablocki’s 4,500 employee network as prescribed by the EEOC for federal agencies. As a Staff Sergeant in the Army he was responsible for producing high level ceremonies at the White House, State Department and Pentagon. Most importantly, he is husband to Beverly and father to Connor (Airman) and Mason.
Edwardo Garza, Jr.
President/CEO Center for Veterans Issues,(CVI)
Lieutenant Eduardo M. Garza, Jr. is a 1996 graduate of the University of South Dakota where he received a Bachelor of Science in Education. In May 1999, Garza enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve under the Advanced Pay Grade (APG) program and was assigned to Naval Aviation Base Support Unit (NABSU) 0170 and Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-201 as an Aviation Storekeeper at NAS JRB Fort Worth, TX. In 2003, Garza was selected to cross rate into the Intelligence Community and attended the Basic Reserve Intelligence Training (BRIT) School at NAS JRB Fort Worth, TX. He was assigned to US JICSOUTH 0270 upon completion of that course in May 2004.
In January 2005, Garza was selected for a Direct Commission as an Intelligence Officer and assigned to Reserve Intelligence Area Southeast (RIASE) New Orleans with Defense Intelligence Agency Headquarters (DIA HQ) 1482. He served as the Training Officer and Command Fitness Leader and was instrumental in RIASE assistance and recovery phases during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in August and September 2005. Additionally, Garza served on active duty at DIA Headquarters Washington D.C. at the Joint Intelligence Task Force – Combating Terrorism Division to transition DIA HQ 1482’s new mission from the Middle East to Southeast Asia.
In March 2007, Garza served as the first Hispanic Diversity Officer for the Office of the Chief of Naval Personnel’s Diversity Directorate (N134). He served as the primary liaison, coordinator, and communicator with military, government and civilian organizations to increase Navy outreach to the Hispanic community, affiliation groups, and organizations. His efforts catapulted the Navy’s Outreach mission to the Hispanic community by 400% in one year.
Mr. Garza voluntarily mobilized as an Individual Augmentee to Baghdad, Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and assumed the duties as the Lead Sunni Intelligence Officer (J2) for the Force Strategic Engagement Cell Multi-National Forces- Iraq (MNF-I) from May 2008 to April 2009.
Mr. Garza is currently serving as the 3rd President / CEO for The Center for Veterans Issues, Ltd. based in Milwaukee, WI and he began his tenure on May 28, 2019. His role is to oversee all service programs within CVI and the Veterans they serve who are at-risk of becoming homeless and to provide services to remedy veteran homelessness across the 54 counties that CVI serves. Prior to LT Garza’s arrival to CVI, he served at Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW) as the Executive Director of Veteran Services and Community Engagement and as a professor in the Justice and Public Policy Department (JPP).