Veteran of the Year 2014

Dr. Gloria Willingham

“I scanned my mind trying to find how I, a woman who entered the military so many years ago while simply trying to find something to do to occupy myself after a divorce, could be sitting here now as a 'Veteran of The Year'.”

Gloria's Thoughts

Dr. Gloria Willingham was one of the early graduates of the newly desegregated Little Rock Central High School in the 1960's. She says that she never could have made it without the support and encouragement of her community. She knows firsthand what it is like to move through systems. She knows what it is like to be a single parent, working full-time and going to school. She knows firsthand the disparities and difficulties that persons from such backgrounds face, often unspoken and unshared. She encourages us all to "tell our story" to help others to regain their strength and the strength of the community.

Dr. Willingham is a retired Lt. Colonel of the U.S. Army Reserves and worked as a nurse for over twenty years in roles ranging from nurses' aide, to staff nurse, to her retirement as a Chief, Nursing Education and Research at the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System in Long Beach, California. She moved into collegiate education having served many years in adjunct faculty roles and on the advisory boards of numerous nursing programs.

She organized the first group of African-American nurses in Long Beach, California to form Psi Eta chapter of Chi Eta Phi Nursing Sorority Inc. While on the faculty at California State University, Long Beach she was one of only a handful of African-American Nurse.  She resides in Bellflower, CA.

  • Founder, The Village P.r.o.j.e.c.t.s
  • Founder, Psi Eta Chapter, Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc
  • Cofounder, AframGlobal Organization Inc
  • Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Unabridged Genius
  • Member, Advisory Board, Tuskegee Airmen Foundation, Della H. Raney Nursing Scholarships
  • Member, American Legion, Jackie Robinson Post
  • Recipient Award for Service to Community, State and Nation – from the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP
  • Recipient Award for Service to Community, State, and Nation – from the American Legion, Jackie Robinson Post
  • Certificate of Recognition for Community Service from Mayor, Long Beach, California
  • Distinguished Alumni Award – Claremont Graduate University
  • Alumni Hall of Fame – Claremont Graduate University

2014 Veterans Recognition Luncheon
Honoree Bio Questions

Name of Honoree:  Dr. Gloria Willingham

Questions to ask your Veteran of the Year for the program.

In which branch of the military did you serve?
U.S. Army

What was your period of service?  (m/yr-m/yr)
1976 from 2001**

What was your rank at the time of discharge?
Lieutenant Coronel

Did you receive any medals or honors while you were in the service?
US Army Meritorious Service Medal (MSM); Army Commendation Medals (ARCOM); Army Achievement Medal, (AAM)

Where did you serve while you were in the service?
Arkansas, Los Angeles, Pasadena, etc.

Where you injured or wounded while in the service?
No

What have you been doing since you were discharged from the service?
See Above.

Do you belong to any veterans’ organizations, such as the VFW, American Legion, AMVETS, etc?
See Above.

Is there any other information that you feel is pertinent?
See Biography Above.

** Willingham is waiting to for her DD214 because she wants to be exact on her dates