Kathleen A. Ryan was born in 1954 to a military family. She grew up in Rochester, New York, and graduated from Gates Chili High School in 1972. At the age of 20, Ryan enlisted in the Army and attended the Intelligence Center of Excellence in Fort Huachuca, Arizona. She was an honor graduate of the class 75-CH-8 Interrogation Course in 1975, and went to Munich, Germany, as a member of the 18th Military Intelligence Battalion, 66th Military Intelligence Group.
As a Russian language specialist, Ryan interrogated Soviet citizens who had escaped or emigrated from the Soviet Union. During her service, she broke gender barriers when she became the first female U.S. soldier to be awarded the Leistungsabzeichen Bronze Medal, a physical fitness award, from the German Federal Armed Forces. She received certificate for her meritorious service and ability to extract valuable information from subjects of all backgrounds. Ryan honorably discharged in 1977.
As a civilian, Ryan went back to school and graduated in 2005 with a master’s in social work. She then began a career of serving Veterans throughout the U.S. Ryan started at the Rochester Veterans Association Outpatient Clinic, contributing to the Health Care for Homeless Veterans program. She then transferred and worked with the Batavia Veterans Association until 2015. Ryan worked as a medical social worker, helping Veterans receive benefits and re-acclimate to civilian life.
In her time as a social worker, Ryan also took on a field instructor job at the University of Buffalo, and personally mentored numerous Veterans struggling with substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder. Her work garnered recognition and commendation from State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and New York Assemblyman Steve Hawley for her compassion, dedication and impact on Veterans’ lives. Ryan also received honors from the office of Robert A. McDonald, the former Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs.
For her work at these Veterans associations, Ryan received the Salvation Army Founders Award, the Spirit of Planetree Caregiver Association Award and the Hal Kreter Award for her devotion to serving Veterans.
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Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Graphic artist: Korak Sengupta