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Veterans Health Administration

Celebrating Vets (And Their Later Successful Careers)

Woman in Chef’s coat

Stefanie Dević

The History of Veterans Day

The origin of Veterans Day is connected to the day marking the end of World War I — November 11 — but the official date and first proclamation came from President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954. Read the complete history of Veterans Day.

Former Warfare Sergeant Now Says “Eat Your Veggies!”

Veterans Day is our annual tribute to those dedicated men and women who sacrificed a part of their lives in defense of our country. Many Vets have hung up their uniforms and gone on to fascinating and successful careers.

Such is the case of Stefanie Dević.

At 18, Dević enlisted in the Army and served three tours of active duty, in the United States, South Korea, and as a combat soldier in Kuwait and Qatar.

Achieving the rank of sergeant, Dević’s job in the Middle East involved nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare readiness.

That’s hard to imagine these days when she is immersed in the challenges of convincing hundreds of school children to try fresh vegetables.

“Our men and women deserve the recognition for their selfless service to this country.”

Stefanie Dević exudes health, energy and enthusiasm. She is exuberant when talking about her multifaceted career as a chef and teacher of healthy food preparation.

Almost five months pregnant and always on the go, much of Dević’s time is split between cooking at homes of clients with special dietary needs, running cooking labs for elementary school children, and training cafeteria workers who may never have thought of preparing sauces and marinades from scratch at school.

Dević completed her bachelor’s degree in marketing and advertising on the GI Bill in California and later completed her culinary training at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York.

She realized she wanted to work in the field of healthy food preparation including, but not limited to, vegetarian or vegan ingredients. “I thought I could be more creative this way and also do more for people,” she said.

Dević started working for a nonprofit called Wellness in the Schools (WITS). Their mission is to inspire healthy eating, environmental awareness, and fitness as a way of life for kids.

A natural match for the WITS job, she found that she loves teaching children and has accepted the challenge of convincing cafeteria workers to buy into the concept of healthy cooking for the children.

“Schools used to cook from scratch — many things changed after the 60’s and 70’s where they began to transition into cheap and more processed ‘fast’ foods,” she said. “Now we want to take it back to cooking and preparing real food to fight the extremely fast rise in obesity and diabetes rates in this country.”

When not involved in the school projects or cooking for clients, Dević has ongoing responsibilities in her role as a Community Supported Agriculture coordinator distributing Long Island organic farm-grown produce and other local foods to participants in her Brooklyn neighborhood.

Dević receives treatment at VA’s Manhattan Campus for service connected orthopedic problems. “I have left knee issues when I exercise a lot or when I overwork my knee.”

Grateful for the care she receives from VA, Devic appreciates the importance of Veterans Day: “I think we should celebrate Veterans Day because our men and women deserve the recognition for their selfless service to this country.”

Former Sergeant Dević will take a break to be with the new baby.

“I can always teach cooking and nutrition, as each aspect of food is so important in our lives,” said Dević, satisfied that she has established herself in a career for which she is passionate about, skilled in, and for which there is a growing demand.