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State’s VA director presents public talk profiling today’s veteran

In an effort to address the diverse health care needs of today’s veterans, Kim Ripoli, associate director of Rhode Island’s Veterans Affairs division, will present a public talk on Tuesday, Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. at Salve Regina University. “The Profile of Today’s Veteran” will be presented at 6 p.m. at the Young Building, corner of Bellevue and Ruggles avenues.

Presented by Salve Regina’s nursing program, which participates in the “Have You Ever Served” program, the talk is free and open to the public.

In her talk, Ripoli will examine how today’s veterans are a significantly changed population from previous generations. Today’s veterans tend to be younger, are more likely to be female, are more ethnically diverse and are more likely to have served for shorter periods of time than their predecessors. While many are surviving tremendous injuries on the battlefield today, they’re still coming home with significant medical and mental health issues.

Ripoli, who earned a master’s degree from Salve Regina, is the first woman in Rhode Island to administer the Division of Veterans Affairs. In her position, she manages the Division's operations, coordinates mission execution and oversees more than 220 employees in the three branches (Veterans Home, Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Veterans Affairs) with a Division budget over $27 million.

She entered Naval service in February 1988; and in 1991, she was deployed to Southwest Asia with the 1st Marines Expeditionary Force (1st MEF) in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield/Storm. She was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for her actions during her deployment with Fleet Hospital 15.

In September 1994, she joined the Navy Reserve, and affiliated with the Fleet Marine Force, 4th Force Service Support Group, 4th Medical Battalion, Surgical Company "A". In 2003, she was mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom. She was attached to the 1st MEF, Forward Resuscitative Surgical Team #3 in al Kut, Iraq. She received two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals for her actions in Iraq. Additional overseas deployments include Operation New Horizon (2000), and Operation African Lion (2005).

In July 2007, she was assigned to The Pentagon, in the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower, Policy and Reserve Affairs. During her tenure at the Pentagon, HMCS Ripoli was assigned as an Action Officer working directly for Deputy Assistant Secretary on the joint Department of Defense & Department of Veterans Affairs Senior Oversight Committee, Line of Action #3, case/care management reform for wounded, ill and injured service members. In that role, she was the Project Manager for the creation of the online National Resource Directory.

Her military decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (eight awards), Army Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, Kuwait Liberation Medal-Saudi Arabia, Kuwait Liberation Medal-Kuwait, Iraq Campaign Medal, and various service, unit and campaign awards.