VET-Force Leadership

Director of Policy & Government Affairs

Richard F. Weidman

Director of Policy & Government Affairs, Vietnam Veterans of America

8605 Cameron Street, Suite 400
Silver Spring, MD 20910

(202) 585-4000 x127
Send an Email
Visit Website

Richard F. “Rick” Weidman serves as Executive Director for Policy & Government Affairs on the National Staff of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). As such, he is the primary spokesperson for VVA in Washington. He served as a 1-A-O Army Medical Corpsman during the Vietnam War, including service with Company C, 23rd Med, AMERICAL Division, located in I Corps of Vietnam in 1969.

Mr. Weidman was part of the staff of VVA from 1979 to 1987, and from 1998 to the present, serving variously as Membership Services Director, Agency Liaison, Director of Government Relations, and now Executive Director for Policy & Government Affairs. He left VVA to serve in the Administration of Governor Mario M. Cuomo (NY) as statewide director of veterans’ employment & training (State Veterans Programs Administrator) for the New York State Department of Labor from 1987 to 1995.

Rick has served as Consultant on Legislative Affairs to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV), and served at various times on the VA Readadjustment Advisory Committee, as a consumer liaison on the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Serious Mental Illness at VA, the Secretary of Labor’s Advisory Committee on Veterans Employment & Training, the President’s Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities – Subcommittee on Disabled Veterans, Advisory Committee on veterans’ entrepreneurship at the Small Business Administration, and numerous other advocacy posts in veteran affairs. He is currently Chairman of the Veterans Entrepreneurship Task Force (VET-Force), which is the consortium of most of the major veterans’ service organizations and military service organizations regarding expanding opportunities for veterans, particularly disabled veterans to create, own, and successfully operate their own small business.

Mr. Weidman was an instructor and administrator at Johnson State College (Vermont) in the 1970s, where he was also active in community and veterans affairs. He attended Colgate University (B.A., 1967), and did graduate study at the University of Vermont.


Joe Wynn

President, VETS Group, Inc.

In 2004, Joe founded the VETS Group, a non-profit organization that provides entrepreneurial education, federal procurement training, employment assistance and other supportive services primarily for veterans, people with disabilities and persons of limited means. Over the past few years, Joe has provided testimony to Congress and participated in conferences for federal, state, and local governments in an effort to heighten the level of awareness regarding the needs of veterans.

Joe received an Honorable Discharge from the U.S. Air Force at the end of the Vietnam War and has been an advocate for veterans for more than 18 years. While working with the Director of Government Relations for the Vietnam Veterans of America on matters pertaining to federal procurement and veterans’ employment, Joe also serves on the Executive Committee of the Veterans Entrepreneurship Task Force (VET-Force), which is composed of over 200 organizations and affiliates representing thousands of veterans throughout the U.S., to monitor the impact of legislation on veterans procurement programs.

Through the VETS Group, Joe is helping to develop an initiative to increase the number of procurement opportunities for veteran and service-disabled veteran owned businesses by identifying procurement opportunities in the private-sector marketplace. Partnerships are being formed with large corporate enterprises to offer veterans employment opportunities, business education, mentoring, technical assistance, growth capital, and access to international markets.

Joe Wynn, also serves as Director and Legislative Liaison for the National Association for Black Veterans (NABVETS); as the Chairman of the Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committee for the NAACP-DC Branch; member of the Veterans Health Council and the Mayor’s Veterans Advisory Board for the District of Columbia. In 2005, Joe was appointed by the Honorable Nancy Pelosi to serve as a Commissioner on the Veterans Disability Benefits Commission that completed its work in early 2008.

Educational Attainment: Under the G.I. Bill, Joe attended the Universities of DC and Howard. He completed a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems, a Master’s degree in Business, and two years toward a doctorate in Organizational Communications. He later served as an instructor and the Director of Education at the PTC Career Institute, a business school in Washington, D.C.

Awards: SBA’s Veteran Small Business Champion Award for 2005 of the Washington DC Region. NAACP’s 2006 Julius E. Williams Distinguished Community Service Award for Veteran’s Services.

Lupe Saldana

American GI Forum

Lupe Saldana was born in Corpus Christi, Texas. After graduating from the University of Corpus Christi on a boxing scholarship, he began his public service career as an Officer in the U.S. Marine Corps from from 1965 to 1971. He rose to the rank of Captain while serving a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1968.

Lupe resigned his commission as a Regular Marine Corps Officer in 1971, while stationed at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, DC to become a public servant and advocate for Veterans issues. He joined the American GI Forum in 1972 and was elected Washington DC State Commander in 1974 and National Commander in 1979. As National Commander Lupe represented the American GI Forum before the Administration, Congress, and Federal government. On March 20, 1980, President Jimmy Carter invited Mr. Saldana to the Oval Office to acknowledge his work as National Commander of the American GI Forum.

On March 1980, Lupe was named a member of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee (The Wall) and was a keynote speaker at the first National Vietnam Veterans Memorial Service held on March 26, 1980. On October 1997, he developed a Mentor Program for the Arlington, Virginia High School Continuation Program. Lupe is also a volunteer in the National AIDS Marathon Program and has run the Marine Corps Marathon three times to raise funds for people living with HIV/AIDS. On May 1989 and 2001, Lupe was awarded the Unsung Hero Award for his volunteer work in the community.

On January 2001, Lupe was named a member of the Bush-Cheney Transition Advisory Committee for Veterans. On October 2005, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, James Nicholson, appointed Mr. Saldana to serve as a Secretarial Appointee on the Department of Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on Women Veterans. And on July 2008, Secretary James R. Peake appointed Mr. Saldana to serve as a Secretarial Appointee on the Department of Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans. Lupe currently serves in the Executive Committee of the Veterans’ Entrepreneurship Task Force (VET-Force).

Mr. Saldana has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Economics and a graduate Certificate in Urban Affairs from American University. In 1984, he completed the Contemporary Executive Development Program for Senior Executives at George Washington University and the Washington Executive Seminar at the USDA Graduate School in June 1986.

On May 2006, Lupe retired after more than 41 years of public service. This service included 15 years reserves and active military duty, 29 years as a senior manager at the Environmental Protection Agency and 5 years at the Bureau of the Census where he assisted the Director to establish the first National Hispanic Advisory Committee of the Census Bureau. Lupe is President of A Plus Home Improvement and Real Estate Investments, Inc. He currently resides in Fairfax Station, Virginia.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Paul M. Ignosh

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, I&A Consulting Group

Experienced executive with demonstrated success in entrepreneurial development of new companies, as well as successful experience in restructuring and leadership of growth oriented corporations. Proven credentials and “hands on” experience in all areas of business including business plans, start-up activities, public and private equity financing (raised millions of dollars via various public and private debt instruments, a successful IPO, and a range of other equity offerings), development and creation of partnerships and strategic alliances, overall P&L responsibility, capital and expense deployment, sales and marketing, strategic planning, budget and finance, billing and collections, customer care, technical and operations functions, legal and regulatory activities, and executive management. Expertise in the Federal Enterprise Architecture and the formal business processes associated with IT investments and Capital Planning mandated by the Office of Management & Budget. He is a member of VET-Force (Veteran Entrepreneurship Task Force) advocating Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOBs).

I&A Consulting provides management consulting services specializing in growth oriented technology based companies. Services include; Business Development, Strategic Partnering, Corporate Development, Sales Management, Financial Services and M&A. I&A is an SBA Certified Veteran Owned Small Business.

I&A currently leads a consortium of companies providing unique and innovative technologies to the Department of Homeland Security and other Federal, State and Local agencies. The mission of this engagement is to improve the business processes associated with networking and wireless technologies for infrastructure to provide interoperability to 80,000 municipalities and over 100 Federal Agencies as related to the National Response Plan. We manage working relationships with Federal markets including DISA, STATE, DHS, FEMA, HHS, DOD and large integrators Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, CSC, IBM, Unisys and Verizon.

Paul studied Business Administration and Accounting at Allegheny Community College in Pittsburgh, PA. and Science and Electrical Engineering at San Diego State University in San Diego, CA..

He serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Touchdown Club Charities and resides in Reston, Virginia with his wife, Carol.

Dennis DeMolet

Dennis DeMolet, a leading expert on Small Business and Veterans’ Business affairs, and an active proponent for disabled veteran, small business, and non-profit organizations. He has distinguished himself in these fields, receiving numerous accolades and honors during 35 years of dedicated service to the business and veteran community. His expertise is sought by Federal government and state policy-makers as well as by numerous community organizations. In representing the veteran community and its organizations, he has significantly contributed to key governmental policy changes and is credited with obtaining recognition of veterans as a vital force to this Nation.

DeMolet’s vast knowledge of veterans’ business affairs together with his enthusiasm, energy, and stellar reputation has secured his appointment to many influential policy committees. As such, he has regular access to key executive leadership officials in government, industry and academia. Formally the National Chairman of the Advisory Committee for Veterans Business Affairs for the United States Small Business Administration in Washington D.C., Mr. Demolet holds great respect with the Small Business community our United States.

Mr. DeMolet comes from Fortune 100 companies as Digital Equipment Corporation, Hughes Aircraft, and Raytheon. This experience has enabled him to pass on his knowledge for the benefit of Small Business and Veterans in business.

A decorated United States Marine Corps Vietnam service connected disabled veteran, DeMolet is CEO of DeMolet Consulting who was selected as Chairman of the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) Advisory Committee for Veterans Business Affairs (Former). He is a member of the International Board of Directors of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA). Under the Governor of Ohio, DeMolet has been appointed to the Ohio Board of Trustees for Ohio’s Veterans Homes for his business background.

Serving as the first Disabled Veterans Outreach Representative Chairman for Ohio in the late 1970’s, and leading the Veterans Readjustments Act for Preble County, Ohio in the 1980’s, he clearly understands the political and business environment that is crucial to the climate of change. He successfully establishes strategic positioning of synergistic solutions on many Government agencies for those corporations, small businesses and non-profit organizations he represents in business development, marketing and management services.

DeMolet was honored as the United States National Veterans Small Business Advocate of the Year for 2003 by the United States Small Business Administration. He has also been selected Ohio’s most outstanding disabled veteran. Federal Computer Week honored him as one of the leading IT Professionals in their Federal 100 awards for 2001. The, Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, (AFCEA) have bestowed several additional accolades for his tireless efforts and many achievements for their organization, including the Medal of Merit for 2006. In addition Mr. DeMolet also was honored by the Veterans Administration Center for Veterans Enterprise as National Individual Championship Veteran for 2005. Mr. DeMoloet now serves on many government and private secotr board, to include being the President of the National Military Intelligence Association Ohio chapter.Mr. DeMolet continues to assist Small Business, government his community, the nation and all Veterans.

Laurie S. Artis

In August 2012, Laurie Sayles Artis formed Civility Management Solutions (CMS), a Small Disadvantaged Service-Disabled Veteran Woman Owned Business that is focusing on Federal, State, Local and Commercial contracting opportunities to support them in the following areas: Administrative and Human Resources, Acquisition Development, Grants Management, Training, Investigations, Law Enforcement and Security.

Laurie is a Chicago native, and modeled professionally during her high school years. After graduation in 1979, she attended the Institute of Technology after prompting by her brother to study Electronic Technology; however, she quickly learned she had no patience to ‘repair’ broken machines. She then chose to join the military and was told she could handle the Marine Corps by a few male Marines that knew her well. Even though she had never seen a Woman Marine, she was intrigued and took their advice.

Laurie joined the US Marine Corps (USMC) in February 1982 and served seven years during the Grenada and Lebanon Conflicts. Her job in the USMC was Maintenance Management, and she served at Camp Lejeune, NC; Kaneohe Bay, HI and Cherry Point, NC, ending in 1988 as a Sergeant (E5). She mentored both subordinates and peers to reach excellence at all times, to include pushing Women Marines to run as many miles as the men on Battalion runs, and to survive in the field for week long trainings. She took her job seriously in the Corps as the Maintenance Battalions that service fighting men with gear, equipment, weapons, etc., were to never go below 98% in “Readiness.” As she often stated “A Marine must be properly equipped to function at their best.”

Laurie then served two years in the Marine Corps Reserves at 4th Battalion, Newport News, VA, while residing in Prince George County, MD and served as the unit’s Platoon Sergeant. During this time she managed the reservists through the 72-hour activation request from the Commander, because of the 1st Persian Gulf War. Her biggest role was preparing the minds and bodies of the majority of Marines that had never served on active duty. This training, guidance and instructions led to her final promotion to Staff Sergeant (E6) as she brought her military career to an end.

Laurie began her civilian career within the non-profit and corporate arena for the next 20 years. Her first job was as a Receptionist, then Administrative Assistant, Executive Assistant, and ended in positions as an Operations Director. As her leadership continued to excel she very quickly became the supervisor of the administrative staff in the offices she worked within. Additionally, Laurie has always been an entrepreneur. To name a few, as an advocate for a healthy lifestyle, she founded and operated “Semper Fi Fitness” an outdoor fitness program that built self-esteem in many women, and marketed wellness products that additionally supported a healthy lifestyle.

However, once she was introduced to Federal Government Contracting, she knew she had found her destiny in entrepreneurship. Highly regarded as a Program / Project Manager with the ability to please stakeholders, peers and staff, Laurie received great knowledge in contracting with the government as she managed up to 128 staff nationally within eight agencies totaling up to $11.5 million in contracts for a Women, HUBZone, 8(a) small business in Washington, DC.

Ms. Artis received her B.S. in Social Science with a Minor in Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship, along with a Business Project Management Certification from University of Maryland University Campus (UMUC). She has been accepted in the Graduate Program and plans to return for a dual degree.

VictorG. Klingelhofer

Partner, Cohen Mohr LLP

1055 Thomas Jefferson Street, Suite 504
Washington, D.C. 20007

(202) 342-2550
Send an Email
Visit Website

Victor Klingelhofer is a service-disabled veteran, having served during the 1970s as aField Artillery  NCO in the 101st Airborne Division and, after OCS, as a Nike Hercules missile officer. He was discharged from the Army with a Medical Disability in 1980, after which he attended law school at Catholic University in Washington, DC.  Since his graduation in 1983 Victor has practiced Government Contracts law and has been a Partner in the DC firm of Cohen Mohr since 1989.  His primary areas of practice are Government contract cost accounting and pricing issues, including contractor claims and terminations, and resolution of disputes between the Government and its contractors. Victor has served on the VetForce Executive Committee since 2013.