Pair of Tahoe veterans recognized for service, Women’s History Month


SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Two Lake Tahoe women business owners and veterans were recognized last week with medals presented by recently appointed District 5 Commissioner for Veterans Affairs in El Dorado County Dan Browne.

In honor of March being Women’s History Month, Browne met with two locals — Lisa Utzig Schafer and Claudia Zepeda — to award them with medals.

Claudia Zepeda (left), Dan Browne (middle) and Lisa Utzig Schafer (left).

Lisa Utzig Schafer grew up in South Lake Tahoe and served in the US Army after graduating from South Tahoe High.

“When I got in, something clicked,” she said. “I knew I couldn’t fail and I kicked butt.”

Schafer served in the army from 1996 to 2000 in the 210th Forward Support Battalion for the 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, New York City.

Lisa Utzig Schafer served in the army from 1996 to 2000.

Schafer also did a tour in Bosnia where she was on guard duty with live rounds.

“To go to a country devastated by war, it was moving,” she said. “Not many people get to see what war can do to a county. I grew a lot as a person those four years.”

When Schafer returned, she received her Spanish degree from Lake Tahoe Community College and went on to receive her art degree from Humboldt State.

“It is cool being a woman veteran, when people find out, they are inspired,” she said. “There is already a Tahoe tribe, but its another level of camaraderie [with veterans].”

Schafer now owns Wildwood Makers Market in South Lake Tahoe and is also the El Dorado County program coordinator for the Suicide Prevention Network.

Lisa Utzig Schafer (far right) went straight into the army after high school.

Claudia Zepeda was also recognized by Browne. Zepeda served in the US Navy in aviation administration from 1995 to 2000 after graduating from South Tahoe High.

Claudia Zepeda was stationed in Florida during her time in the Navy.

Zepeda was stationed in Jacksonville, Florida while she served.

“This [ recognition] has allowed me to connect with other veterans in the community,” she said. “It’s really humbling. There are a lot of people in the community who didn’t know I served.”

Zepada and her family have owned Jalisco’s Taqueria in South Lake Tahoe for about 30 years.

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