• Jun 26, 2022
  • 9:36 AM

WVAC Members


Aretha Costley - U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant (Ret.)

Aretha Costley – U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant (Ret) Originally a native of Baltimore, Maryland, Aretha’s parents ultimately moved to California where she enlisted in the US Air Force in May 1986.  After serving proudly for 20 years, she retired in May 2006. During her 20 years of exemplary service, she proudly served at Misawa Air Base, Japan, McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, Lackland Air Force Base, in Texas, and at the home of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. While in the US Air Force, she was a Military Training Instructor, a professor with the Community College of the Air Force and Commandant of one of 64 Air Force Airman Leadership Schools. 

After retirement, she worked for TATE Incorporated, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman the United States Air Force, and US Citizenship and Immigration Services, as an Instructional Designer, Leadership and Development Training Instructor, Strategic Organizational Change Agent, Executive Leadership and Development Consultant and Human Resources Director. 

Her degrees include an AA in Instructor Technology and Military Science with the Community College of the Air Force, a BS in Administration and Management from National Luis University, a BS in Psychology from the University of Phoenix, and an MBA with a Human Resources concentration from Colorado Technical University. She is currently pursuing her EdD in Organizational Development and Organizational Management with Grand Canyon University. 

Her daughter is a Registered Nurse, and her son is an Audio Engineer.

Annie Emprima-Martin – Nevada Army National Guard

Annie Emprima-Martin served from Feb 2008 to Feb 2017 in the Nevada Army National Guard. At the time of her deployment in 2016, she served as finance operations for the 17th Sustainment Brigade. Her duties during the deployment included conducting audits on U.S. and foreign currency throughout the battlefield, and traveled to cities in Jordan, Iraq and Qatar during the deployment.

She brings to the advisory committee her local event planning experience and veteran community involvement starting with her time spent as the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program non-commissioned officer (NCO) and Employment Coordinator for the Nevada Army National Guard to owning her own career progression company, Veteran Ready. She also served as a Department of Defense contractor, building up and branding the Hero2Hired program for Nevada to more than 1,000 veterans, as well as serving as the first Veteran Coordinator for Vegas PBS. She understands the direct correlation between suicide and purpose.

Annie currently owns One Emprima, a coaching and training company for spiritual growth and healing, with clients all over the world. She is a speaker, trainer, and coach. She holds a doctorate degree in metaphysics, masters background in positive psychology, bachelor’s degree in business administration. She studies and researches the impact of energy in the form of emotions on mind, body, business, and life through the lens of positive psychology, neuroscience, religious and spiritual belief systems, and cultural. Mindset and wellbeing are a top priority for her.

Ms. Emprima-Martin is an angel investor, supporting Nevada based businesses through AngelNV, and also writes about her experiences from the military to metaphysics in her blog series, “The View From My -Ships: Stories about leadership, friendship, personal relationships, business partnerships, personal ownership, the money-ship and a sneak peek into my world on the metaphysical mothership.”

Annie understands the struggles women veterans face. She returned from deployment with visible and invisible wounds. The women that left was not the same women that returned. She ow uses her position to help influence change in the military culture to better support Nevada women in the Guard/Reserve and women veterans from all eras, with emphasis on the incoming generation of women veterans.

Cathy Girard

I enlisted in the Air Force in the Delayed Enlistment Program at 17, October of 1975. I went active duty in ’76 and my first career field was Security Police Law Enforcement. My second career field was Supply, Petroleum Oils and Lubricants and I was the first woman to refuel aircrafts on the ground. My final career field was Air Operations Intelligence. I spent 17 years in that specialty. I retired in 1997 after being assigned at Nellis with the 547th Intelligence Squadron as the OIC of the Threat Training Flight as a Master Sergeant. The Flight is responsible for conducting tours of the Threat Training Facility affectionately known as the “Petting Zoo.” Fall of 2003, I graduated from UNLV with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management with a minor in Information Management Cum Laude. I’ve been the Chief of Information Technology for a registered agency company. I was the Nye County School District Volunteer Coordinator from 2005 to 2012. During that time I received the Nevada Association of School Board’s Friend to K-12 award. I volunteer with Disabled American Veterans, I’m the Senior Vice Commander for the DAV Department of Nevada. In 2019 I received with three others the Veteran Supporter of the Month for November. I also volunteer with Southern Nye County Search and Rescue.

Marlene Merck – United States Air Force (Ret.)

Marlene Merck graduated from Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1987.  She attended the local community college for two years before joining the Air Force in April 1989.

Her job in the Air Force was Service Specialist (food, fitness, and lodging). In the 24 years of service, she worked in all areas of the job to include training manager and extra duty as intern First Sergeant. In her time in the Air Force she was stationed at 4 different bases and deployed to 7 different countries.  

Marlene received her Associate in Hospitality Lodging/Food Service/Fitness and a Bachelor in Business Management.   

After retirement, she joined the civilian work force in the food industry.  She had a difficult time letting go of her military life and decided that it was time to become a full time mom. She officially retired from the work force.  She is currently working for the Elko School district as a lunch monitor at the middle school (just to give her something to do)

Two years after retiring she joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  Within 6 months of joining she was elected in as Senior Vice Commander.  A month later stepped up as Post Commander, the first female post commander since the post opened its doors.  Since then she has held all positions and continue to be active with all the veteran organizations in Elko.  She recently started tutoring and counseling troubled 7-8th graders; teaching them coping skills to deal with the changes school and society.

Five things believe in-

— Use the lessons life throw at you to help others. 

— Honesty is the best policy.  Truth is easier to remember than lies.

— Its okay to say “No"

— Treat people how you want to be treated. Don't hold double standards.

— Accountability does breed excellence

Barbara Ortiz

Barbara Ortiz served 38 years in the Air Force, first as an enlisted Aircraft Mechanic and upon commissioning, as a Logistics Readiness Officer. She has held positions at all levels of command, to include Numbered Air Force, Major Command, Combatant Command, Air Force Headquarters and The Joint Staff. Barbara is the co-owner of Ardaithe Consulting, providing individualized consulting to government offices on strategic management issues and conducts internal investigations into workplace disputes and personnel matters. She holds a TS/SCI Clearance.