Thank You Col. Wright

Today we thank Col. Wanda Wright (Ret.) as she concludes her service as Director of the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services. In her role as Director, Col. Wright was responsible for the 500,000+ service members, veterans & their families who call Arizona home. 

During her tenure, she has made a profound impact on our military and veteran community. She was instrumental in the establishment and growth of Be Connected over the past six years, fostering public/private partnership and the vision for upstream prevention. 

She built connections and partnerships between ADVS and federal, state and community partners, frequently criss-crossing the state and country. Col. Wright has advanced support for women veterans and minority veterans and was appointed to the VA’s Advisory Committee on Women Veterans. ADVS has made strides in serving veterans experiencing homelessness, those living in rural communities and those with barriers and challenges relating to Social Determinants of Health. 

ADVS, ACMF and VA leadership partners at the 2019 Statewide Symposium in Support of Service Members, Veterans & Their Families.

Please join us in thanking Col. Wanda Wright for her outstanding eight years of service. Her work to connect Arizona’s veterans and their families to resources and opportunities has enriched the lives of many. As we mark the end of a familiar phase, we share our well wishes to Col. Wright for a new mission that brings joy and fulfillment.

Director Wright speaks at the 2018 Statewide Symposium in Support of Service Members, Veterans & Their Families.

Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services Accomplishments

  • Partnering to create the Be Connected program with ACMF, the VA and other key partners
  • Oversaw the addition of the Arizona State Veterans Homes in Flagstaff and Yuma
  • Championed the role of women veterans in Arizona
  • Increased veteran disability claim approval rates from 65% to 95% and increased federal funding for monthly support to veterans by $43 million per month
  • Served as the first female Director of the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services
  • Expansion of the Arizona Roadmap to Veteran Employment, including development of the Arizona Veteran Supportive Employer designation; launching the AZHiresVets! initiative to hire veterans for state government positions; and establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding between Arizona’s military installations, ADVS and ACMF for a statewide SkillBridge initiative to support transitioning service members

One of the core reasons the Arizona Coalition for Military Families was established in 2009 was to provide continuity for the joint initiatives and long-term efforts to build support for Arizona service members, veterans, and their families when the only constant is change. Our team thanks Director Wright for her years of service and partnership, and welcomes the new Director and the opportunity to carry on the work started together with ADVS, in support of our military, veteran and family population.

ADVS and ACMF recognized Arizona Veteran Supportive Employers in March 2020 (our last in-person event pre-pandemic).


Col. Wright graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and Engineering. She went on to earn a master’s degree in business administration, a master’s degree in public administration, and a master's degree in educational leadership.

Col. Wright’s distinguished Air Force career began at the Tactical Air Command at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as deputy budget officer. Her next assignment brought her to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. In 1990, Col. Wright joined the Air National Guard where she served in a variety of roles over the next 21 years. Among her Air National Guard career highlights was serving as Air Commander of Operation Jump Start from June 2006 to December 2008 when she commanded more than 4,000 Air National Guard members. 

Col. Wright’s major decorations include the Meritorious Service medal with one oak leaf cluster (1998), the Air Force Commendation Medal (1987), and the Legion of Merit Award (2011). She is the third generation of her family to serve in the United States military.

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The Arizona Coalition for Military Families works collaboratively with government agencies, community members, and partner organizations to form an Ecosystem of Support that Arizona's service members, veterans, and their families can access through the Be Connected support line, 866-4AZ-VETS, and ACMF is a non-profit organization in Arizona that works with public and private partners to build the state’s capacity to support Arizona’s 500,000+ service members, veterans, and their families with a collective impact model that uses an upstream approach to suicide prevention. Be Connected offers no-cost support and connections to resources and has trained more than 6,000 community members to provide resource navigation services.