Master Sergeant Ethel A. (Alene) Tarter USAF (Retired)-Parrish, FL
Education and Training:
Alene, despite being a full-time airmen, compiled an impressive portfolio of education and training over the years. Alene’s military training included:
- Technical Training Instructor – two assignments
- Medical Laboratory Superintendent – two assignments
- Medical Laboratory Training Instructor
- Medical Laboratory Craftsman – multiple assignments over 16 years
- NCO Leadership School, resident attendance at the Command NCO Academy
- Senior NCO Academy
- Community College of the Air Force, earning an Associates Degree in Advanced Medical Laboratory Technology.
- Occupational Technology Associates Degree in Applied Science from Vernon Regional Junior College in 1986.
- Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with honors (1991) and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Wayland Baptist University, Plainview Tx.
- S. Air Force, Master Sergeant Tarter served as the Course Author for the Medical Laboratory Carter field and attended the AF School for Authors at Maxwell AFB. She wrote and updated the Career Correspondence Course for 11 volumes of instruction manuals. She also travelled to Brooks Air Force Base to author the Skills Knowledge Tests necessary for advancement in the Medical Laboratory career field.
- At the request of the Laboratory Career Field Manager, Alene authored and published the Education and Training Plans for Histopathology, Cytotechnology, and Medical Laboratory career fields for the U.S. Air Force.
Achievements and Recognitions:
- October 1972 – – Basic Training
- July 1978 – – NCO Leadership School
- November 1986 – – Command NCO Academy – Residence attendance
- May 1991 – – S Air Force Senior NCO Academy
- 1990-1995 – – Served in support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm
- October 1999 – –
- August 2004 – – Veteran Claims Examiner Supervisor, Florida of Veterans’ Affairs
- March 2007 – – Chief of Veteran Claims Services, Florida of Veterans’ Affairs
- April 2009 – – Director of Benefits & Assistance, Florida of Veterans’ Affairs
- September 2019 – – Retired from Florida of Veterans’ Affairs
- July 2011- 2020 – – Florida Department of Children and Families Council on Homelessness Council-member
- July 2011- April 2019 – – Active member, Florida Veterans Council
- April 2009 to present: Maintains a consultatory relationship with the Congressionally Chartered Veteran Service Organizations:
- The American Legion
- Disabled American Veterans
- Veterans of Foreign Wars
- Marine Corps League
- AMVETS (American Veterans)
- Military Order of the Purple Heart
- Paralyzed Veterans of America
Summary of Nominee’s Advocacy on Behalf of Veterans:
Ethel A. (“Alene”) Tarter has served in a myriad of leadership roles both in the United States Air Force, and with the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA). Grounded in selfless service, Mrs. Tarter is a 22-year, retired Master Sergeant from the United States Air Force. Her educational pursuits include an Associate Degree in Medical Laboratory Technology and Education, and a Master of Business Administration degree with a specialization in Health Care Administration.
Upon retirement from the military, she served first as a Veteran’s Claims Examiner beginning in October 1999, Claims Bureau Supervisor for the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs in 2002. In 2006, Alene was selected as the Bureau Chief for the Claims Bureau of the Division of Benefits and Assistance and was subsequently promoted to the position of Director of the Benefits and Assistance Division of the FDVA in March, 2009. Mrs. Tarter served as the State Women Veterans’ Coordinator from 2002-2006, and as such, represented countless men and women veterans in their claims, particularly in Military Sexual Trauma cases. She adroitly managed 111 personnel employed within her Bureaus of Veterans’ Claims, Field Services, and the State Approving Agency for Veterans’ Training. Aside from her direct advocacy for Veterans, Alene selflessly volunteered on several committees and commission, councils, groups, panels, and boards.
She served as a member of US Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA) Veteran’s Integrated Service Network (VISN) 8 Veteran’s OEF/OIF Reintegration and Suicide Prevention panel, the Florida Council on Homelessness, (she also chaired a subcommittee, “The Veterans’ Committee,” under the Council on Homelessness), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Policy Academy for Returning Veterans and Their Families, the Supreme Court Task Force for Substance Abuse and Mental Health. Due to her vast experience and relationships garnered working with various committees, she was selected to serve as FDVA’s representative for SAMHSA’s Military Families Strategic Initiative for Reclaiming Recovery, Resiliency, and Readiness.
Mrs. Tarter was further nominated and served as a member of the Diversion and Trauma Recovery/Reintegration State Veteran’s Advisory Council. Mrs. Tarter was well respected for her work with the various congressionally chartered Veteran Service Organizations, which includes but is not limited to Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, Paralyzed Veterans of American, Military Order of Purple heart, and Marine Corps League. Alene was named the Florida Veterans’ Service Officer of the Year in 2002 by the Florida County Veterans’ Service Officers Association, an advisory and training element comprising Florida’s 67 counties. Alene retired in 2020, but still continues her support to her community at large and her relationship with the
Florida’s aforementioned congressionally chartered Veteran Service Organizations noted above. Alene also reaches back to her previous employees to provide mentoring support as they continue to navigate the challenges of both State Government services and dealing with Veterans health and benefits issues.
Summary of Nominee’s Civic Activities and Contributions:
Alene is a pillar of every community she has served in. Having a health care background, Alene previously served as liaison between the Red Cross and military personnel coordinating blood drives and blood screening programs. In both her capacity as the Director of Benefits and Assistance and a community advocate, Alene has supported military stand-downs for homeless veterans, Women’ Veterans Workshops, and Conferences. Alene was name by then, Governor Jeb Bush, as the State Women Veterans Coordinator for the period 2001 to 2007. Finally, Alene was as a selected as a council member for the Florida Department of Children and Families Council on Homelessness and subsequently as the State of Florida Subject Matter Expert to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Council on Homelessness.
Awards or Honors:
- County Veteran Service Officer of the Year – 2007
- Commendation letter from Governor Charlie Christ for Florida Returning Veteran Policy Academy Team – 2009
- Gary Sinise Foundation Hometown Heroes Award – 2010
- Commendation Letter from Governor Rick Scott for Veteran Advocacy – 2011
- County Veteran Service Officer “Dig In” Award – 2014
- County Veteran Service Officer Leadership Award – 2011, 1015, 2019
- The National Committee for Employer Support of the National Guard and Reserve – Patriotic Employer Award – 2016
- FDVA Trailblazer Award Recipient – FY 2016/17
Military Service Awards include:
- Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
- Air Force Commendation Medal
- Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon with one Oak Leaf Cluster
- Air Force Organizational Excellence Award Ribbon
- Air Force Good Conduct Medal with one Silver and Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
- National Defense Service medal
- AF longevity Service Award Ribbon with four Oak Leaf Clusters
- NCO Professional Military Education Medal
Ethel A. (“Alene”) Tarter is one of the genuine leaders that continues to flourish at improving the quality of life for veterans and their families within our great state. A bona fide leader, mentor, and staunch advocate for veterans’ and their families’ rights and benefits, Alene Tarter has used her knowledge, skills, and abilities, to ensure veterans and their families, regardless of their status in life, have unfettered access to the benefits and services they have earned through service to our great country and State. Serving in a myriad of positions throughout her distinguished career the retired Air Force Master Sergeant has shown her commitment through achieving and excelling in leadership roles both in the military and with the FDVA, and through the various associated committees she served on. Alene served as the Director of Benefits and Assistance for the FDVA in Bay Pines, FL. However, her service to the staff working in the St. Petersburg Regional Office where her directorate resides has far exceeded the requirements of the job. She has inspired others to join the team in exceeding service expectations/needs. As a result of her efforts, Alene has achieved an unprecedented Return on Investment to the State of Florida of $148:$1. This return is based on dollars returned to the State of Florida compared to dollars spent. Because of her diverse military and medical background, Alene has made a special effort to address the diversity among veterans including but not limited to homelessness, special female veteran needs, traumatic brain injury and Agent Orange presumptive illnesses.
Prior to assuming her previous role, as Director of Benefits and Assistance, she served as a Veterans’ Claims Examiner in the department from 1999-2002 and later as Claims Bureau Supervisor from 2002-2006. In 2006, she was selected as the Bureau Chief for the Claims Bureau before being promoted to her current position in 2009. In this capacity, Mrs. Tarter researched veteran issues and provided them prompt and courteous assistance. Though Mrs. Tarter assisted over 500 veterans monthly, no individual data was kept on the value of assistance rendered. This shortfall is one that Alene has corrected since assuming the helm of the Directorate.
Ms. Tarter has been a member of the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 8 Veterans’ OEF/OIF Reintegration and Suicide Prevention panel, the Florida Council on Homelessness, the State Advisory Council for Jail Diversion and Trauma Recovery/Reintegration, State Advisory Council of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Policy Academy for Returning Veterans and Their Families, and the Supreme Court Substance Abuse and Mental Health Task Force. Her accolades and accomplishments are too numerous to count, but I will highlight some of the more noteworthy ones.
While a member of the State Advisory Council for Jail Diversion and Trauma Recovery/Reintegration, Alene tirelessly worked with Florida law judges and other members of the Council to provide accurate veteran’s data, review legislation to improve a course of action to provide alternatives for incarcerated veterans due to misdemeanors and non-violent crimes, and author requested legislative bills for Florida Veterans. The impact upon the State and Veterans is highlighted in the T. Patt Maney Bill, which provides veterans an alternative to jail for substance abuse related crimes. Thanks in large part to her efforts, there are now 30 Veterans’ Treatment Courts in Florida. Due to the infancy of these Courts, there is little data available for evaluation, but there were 10,000 admissions into Florida’s Drug Courts in 2011 and Post-Adjudicatory Expansion Drug Courts cost an average of $20.00 per day compared to $49.24 per person per day for prison.
Additionally, drug courts resulted in a 35% reduced crime rate and a recidivism rate of 16.4% after one year of treatment as compared to 43.5% recidivism rate of cases handled traditionally.
While serving as a council member on the State Advisory Council of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Policy Academy for Returning Veterans and Their Families, she provided veteran’s data to the Academy to develop a course of action to provide a platform for returning veterans and their families to advise them of benefits available to them in their federal, state, county and local community. Her impact on this committee is evidenced by a Florida Action Plan in the form of a Green Paper which identified gaps in service and improved access and quality of substance abuse and mental health services for veterans and their families.
Subsequently, the Florida Vets First website was developed to assist veterans leaving the military. A recommendation to update and improve the Department of Defense’s Transitional Assistance Program (TAP) was devised. There is now a mandatory and entirely new comprehensive program for separating military members. At her suggestion, and because many members were identical, this group has now merged with the State Advisory Council for Jail Diversion and Trauma Recovery/Reintegration, and became the State Veterans’ Advisory Council. In 2010, she was presented the “Hometown Heroes Award” for her “Outstanding Service to America’s Wounded Veterans”, by the Coalition to Support America’s Heroes.
Alene has always been a true partner with the County Veterans’ Service Officers to enhance services to veterans and their families and is recognized by them as someone willing to advocate for them. In past years, when veteran’s services in Pinellas County were dwindling and a plan was in place to reduce the number of service officers available to assist veterans in the county, Mrs. Tarter personally spoke with Commissioners, individually and collectively at the Board of County
Commissioners’ meetings to voice her concern with this reduction. She also called upon veterans residing in the county to attend county meetings, and convinced more than 250 veterans attended the Board Meeting. As a result of her direct action, there was no reduction in County Veteran Service Officer manning or services in Pinellas County, and in fact, 2 additional Service Officers were hired.
In order to maintain excellent relations with the community and state, she assessed and responded to constituents’ needs even when not on duty to ensure the Veteran, legislator, or constituent received prompt, compassionate, and caring support. Most importantly, she used her vast resources, garnered over years of service to the State of Florida and its communities to cut through red tape and streamline services to those in crisis.
In a large organization, it is possible for small, nagging issues to slip through the cracks because they are not consistently assigned to anyone for resolution, or because no one claims responsibility or authority for solving the problem. Alene never lets the “not me” syndrome get in the way of excellent service. Regardless of whose job it is, Alene takes each challenge as her own responsibility and follows it through to its resolution.
I have been most impressed by Alene’s work in the advocacy arena. As the Governor’s previous appointee to the Council on Homelessness, she worked tirelessly to identify state issues of importance to Homeless Veterans across Florida, then took action to resolve those issues. She spent hours at legislative meetings, both getting to know legislators who might be sensitive to homeless veteran’s issues and to keep them posted on the latest status and changes regarding these issues/initiatives. She participated in outreach events to elevate the visibility of the Council and got other members involved. She also helped develop the protocols and governing guidance for the Council. In 2014, Alene spearheaded the development of an annual Women Veteran’s Conference which addresses needs, initiatives, and opportunities germane to this diverse veteran population. A successful venture, this conference is in its 9th iteration.
For Fiscal Year (FY) 2012/2013, due to 10-20 veterans turned away from many FDVA offices on a daily basis, she advocated for additional Veteran’s Claims Examiners (VCEs) and the legislature approved six additional Full Time Equivalents (FTE). Due to the growing numbers of veterans and changing USDVA legislation allowing for additional benefits, in FY 2013/2014 she advocated for an additional 13 FTE to assist Florida’s Veteran clients and the legislature allowed those 13 additional positions. Alene has also visited USDVA offices to request work space and has received additional space in VA Medical Centers, Outpatient Clinics, and Community Based Outpatient Clinics for VCEs to increase the visibility and ability to reach as many veterans and their family members as possible.
In FY 2016/2017, she was presented with the Trailblazer Recognition at the 4th Annual State Women Veterans’ Conference for her untiring support of women veterans in demanding equal healthcare for them within the USDVA. Alene also requested a newly created position within FDVA Claims Bureau for a State Women Veterans’ Coordinator, to represent women at their Decision Review Officer and Board of Veterans’ Appeals hearings, particularly for Military Sexual Trauma, attending outreach events to speak to the gender specific needs of women veterans and partnering with the VA to assess and develop necessary new and innovative healthcare programs.
Alene was personally selected by the Deputy Secretary of the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs to serve as a member of the commission to select the new Undersecretary of Benefits for the VA. One of her favorite assignments while employee at FDVA was attending the Governors’ Veterans’ Service Award Ceremonies to shake hands and listen to the stories of the men and women veterans in attendance.
In 2017, Alene supported the Agencies new Forward March Initiative serving as an expert panelist and moderator on Homelessness, community resources, and benefits.
In 2016, recognizing the special needs of women veterans, Alene Tarter legislated for and received a position to create Women’s Veterans’ Coordinator and program. Pictured below is Alene Tarter bestowing achievement awards to Women Veteran Pioneers who started women specific Veteran Programs and initiatives.
Alene was forced to retire from State service during the 2019/2020 fiscal year due to medical reasons. Despite this setback, Alene continues to serve our veterans providing consult to those seeking assistance with benefits or simply requiring general knowledge in her areas of expertise. She has:
- Assisted Veterans and their families experiencing a family death incident, navigate the mire of paperwork to receive death and indemnity compensation, widows pension, and related services.
- Mentored new and seasoned Veteran Claims Examiners and County Veteran Service Officers, Veteran Service Officers and Community Civic Organizations on Veteran
- Provided mentorship and personal claims reviews to senior ranking officers and noncommissioned officers who, due to status or pride, would not seek earned benefits and compensation due to them because of injuries, illnesses or maladies experienced during their military service.
- Advised Veteran Claims Examiners and those Veterans desiring to pursue that career path on career opportunities, progression, and education needed to be a success in that field of
- When invited, assisted local community, church and civic organizations with subject matter expertise on Veterans benefits during outreach events.
- Continues to serve as a sounding board to the leadership of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs on historical matters related to the Benefits and Assistance historical initiatives, programs and systems.
- Financially and personally supported campaigns/elections of Veterans to positions of prominence and service; including the election of Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast, and State Senator Danny Burgess, to ensure Veterans were in positions to understand, advocate, and assist Veterans through their positions.
Alene has inspired others to action by her story, her undertakings and her persistence. If attitude makes the difference between getting tasks done and making them fun, Alene is the epitome of great attitude. She inspires everyone around her with her dedication and positive outlook. On
behalf of everyone who has benefited from Alene’s phenomenal work ethic and service, I vigorously nominate Alene Tarter for the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame for her trailblazing efforts, dedication, volunteerism, and excellent service. I would think that rewarding a responsible and capable Veteran and previous State employee like her will formally set a great example for others to emulate, while simultaneously recognizing her profound contributions to our military and the State of Florida.
Ethel A. Tarter’s credentials and continuous body of work with Florida’s Veterans and family members speak volumes about her advocacy, mentorship and leadership and make her a must select for the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame.
Submitted in humble gratitude for her dedicated service;
Alfred D. Carter, Colonel,
U.S Army (Retired Chief of Staff
Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs