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Milwaukee Regional Benefit Office

Meet Our Leadership Team


Duane Honeycutt

Director: Duane Honeycutt

Duane Honeycutt was appointed Director of the Milwaukee Regional Office on April 21, 2014. As Director of the Milwaukee VA Regional Office, Mr. Honeycutt is responsible for over 600 full-time employees and for administering benefits for potential clientele of over 400,000 Veterans and their dependents living in Wisconsin. Mr. Honeycutt also oversees pension and survivor benefits provided in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee.

Mr. Honeycutt served as the Director of the Chicago Regional Office from October 2008 until this most recent appointment. Prior to his appointment in Chicago, Mr. Honeycutt served as the Director (Acting) at the Newark, New Jersey VA Regional Office from March 2007. He also served as Assistant Director at the Newark VA Regional Office from February 2006 to March 2007. Mr. Honeycutt began his career with VA as a Veteran Claims Examiner in the Detroit, Michigan Regional Office in November 1993 and successively held the positions of Senior Claims Examiner and Rating Specialist. In June 1999 he transitioned to VA Central Office, Washington D.C. where he served in the Compensation & Pension (C&P) Service. While in the C&P Service, he was heavily involved in the national implementation of the Decision Review Officer Program. In May 2001, Mr. Honeycutt was assigned to the Office of Field Operations (OFO) as a Lead Analyst. In this new position, he acted as a primary liaison between the C&P Service and OFO on procedural issues impacting field station performance. In April 2002 he was selected to be an Assistant Veteran Service Center Manager and was assigned to the VA Regional Office in Cleveland, Ohio. He served in that capacity until being selected as the Veteran Service Center Manager in Cleveland in June 2003. In this assignment he was responsible for the administration of C&P benefits in the seventh largest VA regional office in the nation. In February 2006, Mr. Honeycutt was assigned to the Newark, New Jersey Regional Office as Assistant Director. In March 2007 Mr. Honeycutt took on the role as Director (Acting) in Newark. Under his direction, Newark was able to reduce the average claims processing time by more than 60 days, reduce the claims inventory from approximately 5,400 to 2,900. During this assignment, Mr. Honeycutt served as a member of the Governor of New Jersey’s Yellow Ribbon Commission charged with assisting new veterans in reentering civilian life after service in Iraq and Afghanistan. In October of 2008, Mr. Honeycutt was awarded the State of New Jersey Commendation Medal for his efforts in improving the level of service provided to New Jersey’s veterans by the Newark Regional Office.

Mr. Honeycutt was born in Detroit and raised in Warren, Michigan. He served on active duty in the US Army as an Infantry Squad Leader with the Seventh Infantry Division (Light). Using his GI education benefits, Mr. Honeycutt received an Undergraduate degree in Human Resource Development from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan and has completed postgraduate work at Central Michigan University. Most recently, he was selected for the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program. Mr. Honeycutt is an alumnus of the Assistant Director Development Program 2006, Federal Executive Institute 2005, Leadership VA Class of 2003, and Leadership Enhancement and Development Class of 1999.


Keri Brezgel

Assistant Director: Keri Brezgel

Keri Brezgel was assigned to the position of Assistant Director, Milwaukee Regional Office in February 2013. She assists the Director in managing the Compensation & Pension and Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment benefits provided to a potential clientele of over 400,000 Veterans and their dependents living in Wisconsin.

Keri began her career with the Department of Veterans Affairs in December 1993 as a Rating Analyst in the Milwaukee VA Regional Office. She was later promoted to a Rating Veterans Service Representative and served in the Milwaukee VARO for seven years. Keri then worked in VA Central Office in Washington D.C. for five years, first as a Consultant for C∓P Service on the Procedures and Program Operations staffs, followed by a Management Analyst for the Associate Deputy Under Secretary for Policy and Program Management. In June 2006, Keri was selected as the Assistant Director in the Chicago Regional Office prior to returning to Milwaukee.

Keri has a Master of Arts Degree in Communications and is a graduate of Leadership VA and the Assistant Director Development Program. Keri has contributed to articles published in Human Communication Research.


Jesse Severe

Assistant Director: Jesse Severe

Mr. Jesse Severe was promoted to the position of Assistant Director, Milwaukee Regional Office in March 2012. Jesse began his VA career at the Milwaukee Regional Office in 2001, serving as a Veterans Service Representative, Veterans Claims Examiner, and Assistant Coach. In 2005, Jesse moved to the Nashville Regional Office where he was promoted to Supervisory Veterans Service Representative (Coach). As a coach, Jesse worked with a variety of teams, including Triage, Training, and Pre-determination. He also served as OEF/OIF Coordinator for the office.

In 2008, Jesse moved to the Southern Area office in Nashville first as a Management Analyst, and starting in 2009, as the Supervisory Management Analyst. With Southern Area, he had a wide range of responsibility over support for the twelve field offices and HRC in the Southern Area jurisdiction, which employed nearly one third of VBA’s FTE. He conducted over 25 site visits to field stations and out-based offices, maintained oversight over budget and operations, and led special projects as designated by the Southern Area Director. In 2011, Jesse was accepted into the Assistant Director Development Program. He served details in the Office of Field Operations, as Assistant Director of the Houston Regional Office, and as Assistant Director of the St. Louis Regional Office prior to returning to Milwaukee.

Jesse was born and raised in Sheffield, Iowa. He received a B.A. in History, Religion and Philosophy from Wartburg College in 1996 and an M.A. in Chinese language and history from the University of Iowa in 1998.


Paul E. Stark

Fiduciary Hub Manager: Paul E. Stark

Paul E. Stark to this position in August 2011. He is responsible for fiduciary supervision of more than 18,000 beneficiaries living in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Illinois, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Wisconsin.


Mary S. Hankes

Support Services Division Chief: Mary S. Hankes

Mary S. Hankes began her VA career in August 1991 at the Milwaukee RO as Veterans Service Representative in the Adjudication Division, where she processed Compensation, Pension, and Education claims. She has held various positions as Authorizer, Quality Specialist and Coach in the Veterans Service Center and Pension Management Center. In 2008 she was selected as the Support Services Division Chief.


Nicole Navigato

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Officer: Nicole Navigato

Nicole Navigato assumed the position of Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Officer in the Milwaukee VA Regional Office in November 2010. Nicole previously worked in four other regional offices, including St. Paul, Cleveland, St. Petersburg/Fort Lauderdale, and Chicago. She holds a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Nicole participates in several national projects, including the VR&E Field Advisory Committee, and assists with various national training initiatives. In addition, she enjoys mentoring and training other VR&E employees and managers.


Barbara S. Nehls

Veterans Service Center Manager: Barbara S. Nehls

Ms. Nehls began her career with the Milwaukee Regional Office in August 1991. She was selected as the Veterans Service Center Manager in May 2013. She has spent her entire career at the Milwaukee Regional Office and has held various positions, including Veterans Claims Examiner, Rating Specialist, Coach, and Assistant Veterans Service Center Manager.

Ms. Nehls graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Chris Fischer

Pension Management Center Manager: Chris Fischer

Chris Fischer took this position in December 2008. As Pension Management Center Manager, he administers approximately $231 million in monthly federal benefits to 242,858 beneficiaries living in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.