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Nessler makes American Legion history as New York’s first woman commander

Navy veteran Rena Nessler of Geneva made American Legion history Saturday when she was elected as the first woman commander of the Legion Department of New York.

Nessler’s election concluded the 99th Department Convention at the Oncenter in Syracuse, an event that drew veterans from across New York.

A 37-year member of Winnek Post 396 in Geneva, Nessler is a former Ontario County and 7th District Legion commander who has also served on several state and national committees.

Born in Flint, Mich., Nessler later moved with her family to Minneapolis, where she lived until she joined the Navy in 1969. She served during the Vietnam War and was honorably discharged as a yeoman third class in 1972. Upon discharge, she moved to Geneva, where she lives with her husband, Jim.

Nessler retired in October 2011 from the VA Medical Center in Canandaigua, where she was supervisory prosthetics representative. She also served as Minority Veterans Program coordinator, Native American Program coordinator and diversity training facilitator. She holds an associate’s degree in business administration from Finger Lakes Community College.

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