Lakeside VFW Post Commander honored as Woman of the Year

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Paula Jansen, Post Commander of the Lakeside Veterans of Foreign Wars, was honored by State Senator Joel Anderson as a 2018 Woman of the Year.

Paula Jansen, Post Commander of the Lakeside Veterans of Foreign Wars, was honored by State Senator Joel Anderson as a 2018 Woman of the Year.

Anderson himself bestowed the honor on Mar. 13 at the State Senate building in Sacramento. In his proclamation, Anderson wrote of Jansen, “While she has definitely contributed to the long legacy of the world’s largest combat veterans organization, she is also creating her own [legacy] and blazing a trail for women veterans of the future.”

In June 2017, Jansen became the first female commander of the Carter-Smith Post 5867 in Lakeside.

The same day Jansen was elected to the top spot, her daughter, LeAnna Brown, was elected the Post’s Auxiliary President. This is may be the first mother/daughter leadership team in the history of VFW Posts worldwide.

The 71-year-old Lakeside VFW was recognized with a coveted “All American” status in 2016. It is considered a tight-knit organization with close ties to the community. While Jansen’s appointment is a milestone for the post and women veterans, she is grounded in her duties and her vision. 

“I would like us to continue to be involved in the community and support veterans and their families,” she said.

A native Californian, Jansen retired as a Chief in the US Navy after 21 years of service. Her husband, Eric, also retired from the Navy. The couple has two children.

As a former service member, Jansen has donated thousands of hours to VFW countywide, as well as to the Council for Youth Empowerment. She is a member of the Woman’s Club of Lakeside and the El Capitan Stadium Association (also known as the Lakeside Rodeo), two groups that focus on supporting youth in the community. 

“Nothing is more rewarding than helping someone in need,” she said.

Jansen received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award in 2016 and 2017.

Not only has she become a common sight in and around Lakeside, Jansen continues to be involved throughout the county. From singing Happy Birthday to a 100-year-old woman veteran in a Chula Vista veterans home to serving meals at the annual Veteran’s Stand Down in the City of San Diego, Jansen is committed to helping others. She wants to change the image of the VFW. “People’s perception of the old ways of the VFW is not what we are like now. I believe when you do good for others then good will come back to you.”

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