Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Wisconsin Senior Vice Commander Michele Rathke is a proud member of Schmitt-Manecke-Donner VFW Post 1638 in Merrill, and a member their Auxiliary. Michele is also a member of the Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, and other Veteran Service Organizations. She earned her VFW eligibility at Kunsan Air Force Base, Republic of Korea in 1989-1990. She has served the VFW as Post Commander, earning All-State and All-American Honors in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. Additionally, Michele earned All-State Honors in two of the four years she served as Post Quartermaster. Other offices held include State Recorder (4 years) and District 7 Commander (2 years). Chief of Staff for All-American State Commander Donald Lynch, 2019-2020, in addition to being elected unanimously as State Junior Vice Commander in July 2020. Just recently at the 100thVFW of Wisconsin State Convention, Michele was elected as the State Senior Vice Commander for 2021-2022.
A native of Ohio, Michele Rathke graduated from New Knoxville High School, New Knoxville, Ohio in May 1986, then joined the United States Air Force in January 1987, serving on Active Duty for "20 years, 10 days and a wake up.” Her assignments included Kelly Air Force Base, Texas; Kunsan Air Base, the Republic of Korea; Randolph Air Force Base, Texas; Deployed during Desert Shield/Storm January to May 1991, under Hostile Fire Pay to RAF Upper Heyford, England; then on to Keflavik Naval Air Station, Iceland; Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska; and Warner Robins, Air Force Base, Georgia, where she was deployed to Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait. She retired in February 2007 from Active Duty.
After her retirement, Michele was employed at Church Mutual Insurance Company for 4 ½ years as a Licensed Property and Casualty Insurance Agent, leaving due to medical disability. Michele has been married to John Rathke (VFW State Guard) for 31 years. John retired from Active Duty after serving 21 ½ years in the United States Air Force. Michele and John have three children: Troy (28) born at Wilford Hall Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas; Trent (24) born at Keflavik Naval Air Station Hospital, Iceland; and Trista (22) also born at Keflavik. One Grandson, Rowan; the son of Troy and Kathryn. Michele is the first one in her post to be elected as a State Officer. She and her husband reside in Merrill, Wisconsin.