After more than 30 years in the Army National Guard, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Michelle Struemph has officially retired and respectfully passed on the officer’s saber to Missouri National Guard Adjutant General Stephen Danner at a Change of Responsibility ceremony July 6 at the Guard in Jefferson City.
During the event, Danner then presented the saber to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Patrick J. Muenks, now taking on Struemph’s former position that plays a key role in overseeing the morale, welfare, training, administration, selection and management of all Guard warrant officers and serves as an advisor of all warrant officer issues, policies and initiatives on the adjutant general’s professional staff.
Streumph was featured in the May/June 2017 issue for her dedicated service to the Missouri National Guard, along with Col. Grace Link of the Missouri Air National Guard. Struemph had a highly successful Guard career, particularly the nearly last five years as the state command chief warrant officer of the Missouri Army National Guard and first female appointed to that position.
Struemph also broke ground as the first full-time woman president of the Missouri National Guard Association and formally organized the first Warrant Officer Advisory Council and the Women’s Mentorship Council for the Missouri Army National Guard, known as Sisters In Arms.
The Women’s Mentorship Council has made big strides in the few years its has existed, including developing a pregnancy counseling forum and encouraging a female was appointed to the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Program (SHARP) at the Guard.
Struemph and the council also helped change U.S. Army dress uniform regulation for women, allowing the option to wear pants instead of the required skirt. This act included talking to Senator Claire McCaskill at a town hall meeting and running it through the state sergeant major and the Command Sergeant Major Advisory Council (CSMAC), the latter who has the authority to change the appearance of wearing an Army uniform.
“This is now a U.S. Army regulation, affecting all active duty females, Army reservists and Army National Guard members in the nation. It is very exciting,” she told HER Magazine at the July ceremony. “That was huge for the Women’s Mentorship Council; they needed that win. We can have a positive effect and create positive change; we have that power.”
Even though she plans to enjoy retirement by spending more time with her husband and fellow chief warrant officer five, Ken, Struemph will still serve as an advisor to Sisters in Arms. She also wants to get more engaged in the community, hopes to attain a part-time position at an office that empowers women and assists the community, and join civilian and Guard forces through efforts with the council.
Like she told guests at the change of responsibility ceremony and warrant officer candidates at a past graduations, “be humble, be proud and be bold.” She certainly has lived up to all of those qualities in her career and personal life.
“Some people think it is too big, you can’t change. But don’t ever give up. You just have to find those right vehicles,” she said. “That is me, I don’t think anything is too big to tackle or too big of a challenge. We are going to give our best.”
Three-time all-American pole vaulter Vera (Neuenswander) Schmitz and her family attended local screenings of “Vera’s Vault,” a documentary about her journey to qualify for the 2016 Olympic trials, on July 22 at Capitol City Cinema in her native Jefferson City.
Schmitz, whose same journey was also featured in HER Magazine’s in 2016, and “Vera’s Vault” Chicago based filmmakers Megan Cody and Lauren Vitiello met with guests to the public screenings and participated in a Q&A session during the event.
Schmitz was determined to be an Olympian. Following the 2012 Olympic Trials and 16 years of competing and training, Schmitz’s journey was interrupted once discovering she had a torn labrum in her hip and needed surgery.
Yet, Schmitz didn’t let that stop her. She worked every day for four years recovering and training, qualifying for the 2016 Olympics trials on the last possible day and giving her one more chance to make the team. She jumped her personal best of 14.9, which was the Olympic standard needed to participate in the qualifying round of the trials. However, Schmitz returned to her home in Bloomington, Indiana with an ankle sprain that put a quick end to her training efforts leading up to the qualifying trails in Eugene, Oregon.
She previously told the News Tribune she had not ran or jumped for the two weeks leading up to the event in Eugene, and her ankle required an injection prior to the vault. She said she wouldn’t have jumped at all and rehabbed her injury for several weeks if it hadn’t been the Olympic trials. Even though she cleared the bar, she did not move on in the trials and officially retired.
For more information about “Vera’s Vault,” visit Facebook.com/verasvault2017.