December 12, 2019

Vivian V. Kralka honored as 2019 Ogemaw County Veteran of the Year


WEST BRANCH— On Veterans Day, Vivian V. Kralka was honored as the 2019 Ogemaw County Veteran of the Year by the Ogemaw County Veterans Alliance. Kralka was joined by many of her fellow Veterans and family at the VFW Post 3775 Hall to celebrate this recognition. She is the thirty-fourth recipient of the award and the second woman to be honored as Ogemaw County Veteran of the Year. Kay L. McDaniel was the 1995 Ogemaw County Veteran of the Year.

“I think it was too much,” Kralka said, “I don’t think I deserve all that credit. I’m very humbled to put my name with all the veterans who have won before me.”

2015 Veteran of the Year, Mark DeBoer had plenty to boast about when talking about Kralka’s service.

“She is a very giving volunteer and leader. She is a real jewel to work with and we’re proud to have her as our Veteran of the Year,” DeBoer said.

Kralka enlisted in the Navy in Oct. 1968 where she served the majority of her time at the Navy hospital in Newport, Rhode Island. After her honorary discharge in Dec. 1971, she continued her education, earning her PhD in health administration.

Kralka’s service did not stop with the Navy. She has been heavily involved with giving back to her community and veterans. She has been a member of the American Legion Post 103 for over twenty years in West Branch and is an active member of the Ogemaw County Alliance Honor Guard.

DeBoer added, “she participates and helps in the Ogemaw Health Clinic. She has worked for the State of Michigan inspecting nursing homes and care facilities. She volunteered her service going down to Nicaragua with her church as a nurse and she is involved locally with Sunday school and organizing church summer camps at the church she belongs to.”

As well as being involved with her community, Kralka is a big advocate for women in the military.

In her speech, Kralka talked about Ola Mildred Rexroat, who became a pioneer for women of World War II and helped pave the way for more women to get involved in active duty.

“One of my biggest goals was to try to get the women of Ogemaw County that have served in the military, together. It’s been a real hard task and I’m not sure why, they don’t seem to want to join organizations.” She continued to say organizations have not always allowed women members, but the American Legion actually allowed women in before women were allowed to vote.

“Today whether you are a veteran who has been out in the war and has a horrendous story to tell, or if you are someone like me or some of the other females who weren’t even allowed to go overseas until you went on your second tour of duty, we all served our country and we should be proud of that and I am proud to be one of you,” Kralka said.

Kralka serves as a leader and an inspiration in her community and believes the impact of being in the service is one that everyone should experience.

“I think every child, when they get to high school should think about joining. It’s a good experience, you get a good education and it’s a good way to see the world,” said Kralka.

Below is the poem that was shared on the back of the Veteran of the Year event program that is special to Kralka.

“A Veterans strength is measured by the size of her heart. She is respectfully humble. She will stand with honor. She will fight with love in the face of adversity and for the ones she loves. She will be a voice and a shield. She will be a beacon to light the way home for the old. She will gently make a way for the young. She is a sister, mother, daughter, grandmother, she is a Veteran.” - Author Unknown


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