Background and professional experience:
Kirsten Laha-Walsh, a Navy veteran and caregiver, is currently pursuing her PhD in Social Work with a focus on the military and veteran connected populations. A native of San Diego, California, Kirsten is a third generation Navy veteran and the daughter of a Chief Warrant Officer. She is also the primary caregiver for her spouse, a Purple Heart Combat Marine who is currently undergoing gender transition. Kirsten’s experience in and around the military culture led her to pursue advocacy for veterans, as well as caregivers of military servicemembers and veterans. She works with the SSW’s Office for Military Families and Veterans and conducts research as part of the College of Communications’ Veterans and Media Lab.
In 2021, Kirsten was selected as the first HillVets and WWP policy fellow, where she worked in Congress for the For Country Caucus, and then transitioned to the Government and Community Relations Team with Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) in Washington D.C. In 2022, Kirsten was selected as the first open LGBT+ Caregiver Fellow for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation for her roles as a caregiver and advocate. Kirsten continues to volunteer in her community, serving on the leadership council for the Central Alabama Veteran Collaborative and on the Alabama State Task Force for Head Injury.