Steil Announces Racine Native as Wisconsin’s First Congressional District Veteran of the Year

November 7, 2019
Press Release

RACINE, WISCONSIN—Following a press conference at the Racine County Sheriff Patrol Station, Bryan Steil announced Retired United States Navy Commander Richard “Dick” Vallin as Wisconsin’s First Congressional District’s Veteran of the Year.

“Thank you to everyone who nominated a veteran for this award. There are many who have dedicated their lives to protecting our nation and helping our community. Today, I am proud to recognize Dick for his service to our country, to his fellow veterans, and to Southeast Wisconsin. Dick is a true patriot. After serving 24 years in the Navy, including three combat tours in Vietnam, Dick uses his knowledge to assist our Racine community. I am grateful for Dick’s sacrifice and efforts to support veterans,” said Steil.

“I am honored to be named Southeast Wisconsin’s Veteran of the Year. Thank you to Rep. Steil for recognizing the service of veterans and being a champion for our veteran community. As a 24-year Navy veteran and someone who works with fellow veterans, it is great to see those who represent us in Congress share this same commitment,” said Commander (Ret.) Dick Vallin.

Commander (Ret.) Dick Vallin served in the United States Navy for 24 years, beginning in 1960. Vallin completed three combat tours in Vietnam and retired with the rank of Commander in 1984. 

Vallin now serves our Southeast Wisconsin community in a variety of ways. Vallin previously served as the Director of the Racine County Harbor/Marina project, chaired festivals for Racine St. Catherine’s High School, and is the current chairman of the Roma Lodge Veterans Day celebration.

Vallin served on the Milwaukee County War Memorial Board for two decades. Vallin was also appointed by the Assistant Secretary of Defense to serve as the Wisconsin State Chairman of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve for three years. 

In addition to the Veteran of the Year Award, Steil awarded Congressional Recognitions of Service to Bob Engstrom of Janesville and Brad Behling of Kenosha.

Sergeant (Ret.) Engstrom served in the United States Army for two years and is currently the Secretary of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter, educating area high school and college students about the history and impact of the Vietnam War.

Chief Master Sergeant (Ret.) Behling served in the United States Air Force for 25 years and assists fellow veterans and dependents of veterans as a Veterans Support Services Manager at UW-Parkside.

Veterans were nominated by residents across Southeast Wisconsin. More than 30 veterans were nominated. The First Congressional District’s Veterans Advisory Board reviewed all nominations; evaluated each applicant’s commitment to service, spirit of excellence, and dedication to community and fellow veterans; and selected the Veteran of the Year Award recipient based off of the overall evaluation. 


The First Congressional District’s Veteran Advisory Board evaluated nominees by reviewing the following criteria:

SERVICE: Demonstrate a commitment to service in their community. This could be through advocacy, community projects, an act of heroism, or other actions.

EXCELLENCE: Provide an example of how this veteran exudes a spirit of excellence.

DEDICATION: Have a dedication to supporting their fellow veterans and building bridges between veterans and our greater Southeast Wisconsin community.

Nominees had to be a veteran of one of the five Armed Forces of the United States, including Reserve or National Guard, or United States Merchant Marines. All nominees had to supply a DD-214 and live within Wisconsin’s First Congressional District.

On Background:

Wisconsin’s First Congressional District is home to more than 45,000 veterans.

Steil has made it a priority to support veterans through casework assistance and legislation. Earlier this year, a Steil amendment passed through the House ensuring the Department of Veterans Affairs’ suicide prevention and treatment programs are fully funded. Steil also cosponsored the bipartisan Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, which is now law, that ensures veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam have access to benefits and care they’ve earned. Another Steil-supported bill, the Homeless Veteran Families Act, passed the House in October, and ensures the VA gives veterans and their children access to housing and assistance to help veterans get back on their feet. In July, Steil brought on board a Director of Military and Veterans Affairs through the U.S. House of Representatives’ Wounded Warrior Fellowship Program to help with veteran outreach and veteran and military casework. Steil continues to meet with veteran-focused organizations like Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts, American Legion, and Disabled American Veterans to discuss issues impacting veterans, especially the importance of access to mental health resources.