Jennifer Voelker is a Master Religious Affairs Noncommissioned Officer for the United States Army Reserves with over 31 years of experience. Originally from New York’s Finger Lakes region, Jennifer enlisted as a split-option soldier as a junior in high school in 1992 and is retiring from Wisconsin’s Fort McCoy in September of 2023 and will continue to reside in Sparta, Wis. On a previous assignment to Fort McCoy, she fell in love with a native Wisconsinite named Daniel, and they married in 2014. He began his military career as a Marine and currently serves in the United States Army Reserve as the Command Sergeant Major for a medical training support battalion in Wisconsin.
Jennifer had various duties and assignments in her Army career. Besides her regular duties, she served as a duty-appointed retention noncommissioned officer, a chapel resource fund manager, and a chaplain recruiter. She instructed soldiers and served as a master resiliency trainer, a suicide prevention trainer, and a Financial Peace University facilitator. In addition, Jennifer educated Soldiers and Families about “Building Strong and Ready Teams” with various courses such as “Speed of Trust,” “7 Habits of Highly Effective Families” and “Prevention and Relationship Education Program.”
In her free time, she enjoys her fur babies, kayaking, bike riding, gardening, swimming and finding ways to save for retirement.
Her greatest passion has always been helping people. She continues that service as an intern for Mission Wisconsin for her Career Skills Program (CSP) (the name of the Army’s SkillBridge program) on her journey to retirement. Sharing knowledge and information with other transitioning service members and their families is one of her priorities, and the opportunity to assist others attracted her to Mission Wisconsin for her CSP.
When she was nine months out from her retirement date, a soldier told her about Steve Janke and Mission Wisconsin; she set up a time to chat with him, which was rewarding and insightful. His motivation, drive and compassion for transitioning service members and their families were inspiring, and she wanted to be a part of the team. She looks forward to learning and sharing what she has learned and wants to do whatever she can to make others’ transitions smoother.
For other transitioning service members and their families, Jennifer notes that transition is a big deal and takes time, so start early and stay on track.
“There are so many opportunities out there, which can be overwhelming. Ask yourself, ‘What do I want to do?’ Then make a big list and narrow it down once you learn more about your options. Take the classes that the TAP offers. Reach out and use your resources. The last six months of your transition are a busy time. It’s when you do your SkillBridge program, if you do one. It’s also the time when you go to VA appointments and when you use your terminal leave. Make a plan now. Where do you want to be in one year? Five years? I don’t have my answers yet, but I am eliminating options daily, and it helps.”