Obituary: Virginia L. Sweetser, 1981‑2020 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Virginia L. Sweetser, 1981‑2020 

Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom was a friend to many and a fighter for those without a voice

Published December 17, 2020 at 6:00 a.m.

click to enlarge Ginny Sweetser - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Ginny Sweetser

On December 11, 2020, heaven gained an angel when our beautiful Ginny lost her battle with PTSD.

Virginia L. Sweetser was born in Berlin, Vt., in 1981 to Susan and Gene Sweetser and was raised in Worcester and Essex, Vt. She was a 1999 graduate of Essex High School and the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid, N.Y., where she was the fiercest of hockey players, skating every day in the Herb Brooks Olympic Arena. She served as a legislative page in the Vermont legislature and was invited to attend Girls’ State. She attended the University of Vermont and Saint Michael’s College before transferring to University of Missouri - Kansas City, where she received her BA and then her master's in social work. She was also a graduate of the Police Academy.

As a licensed clinical social worker in Missouri and Kansas, she worked with sexual assault victims and children. She was a mentor and counselor to many. She volunteered thousands of hours at the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault while in college and then joined them professionally as a counselor after earning her degree. She also taught Master of Social Work students at the University of Missouri - KC. Virginia specialized in sand tray therapy and wrote her master's thesis on it. She made a difference in the lives of countless people.

Ginny was also a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, having served with the 443rd Transportation Co., Fort Riley and deployed to Iraq, stationed in Tikrit at FOB Speicher. Sgt. Ginny, or “Sweets,” as she was known, drove the HETs for the Army and traveled in or led many convoys in Iraq during the early phase of OIF 2003 to 2005. She witnessed war, and it rarely left her. She was later a member of the Vermont Army National Guard Headquarters 1/86th FA.

Ginny built many dollhouses, most of which she donated to needy children. She loved her Jeep and her off-roading friends. She recently took up sky-diving and found serenity in that. And she was continuing the Vermont Sweetser family tradition as a basket-making apprentice with her dad. She was a world traveler who visited many global locations with her family and her friends. She was proud of the internship she secured at Mediamark Research that took her to New York City for six months as a St. Mike’s student and provided her with a little apartment in Gramercy Park. She skied on the Smugglers' Notch Racing Team and then became a snowboarder. She loved to dance and hike, and she was an accomplished equestrian and tennis player. She loved critters. She had 17,000 followers on TikTok.

Virginia was a friend to many and a fighter for those without a voice. She stood up for her beliefs and helped those who did not have the strength to stand. As a child, she would spend hours on the phone with crime victims, just listening to them when they phoned her parents’ home.

She loved her family and friends beyond words. She helped her Pop-pop when he battled cancer and helped her Nunu when that battle was lost. She was the best sister Francesca and Caitria Sands could ask for — surprising them at their rugby games and graduations. She was their best friend and their protector. They looked up to her for everything and had a special bond that only true sisters could have.

Left to remember her beautiful soul are her parents, Susan and Gene; her beloved Nunu Crete Williams; her sisters Francesca Sands and Caitria Sands; her sister Analei Campbell; her former spouse, Monica Wheeler, and her in-laws, Joni and Mike Wheeler; her soul sister Nicole Murray; her stepfather David Sands; her aunt Cathy and uncle Bob Lahm; her uncle Bobby Williams; her many cousins, including Bill and Kelli Ogden and Michael Ogden; her four cats; and many more family, friends, mentees and people whose lives she made a difference in.

A memorial service was held in Kansas City, Mo. In lieu of flowers, we request that you consider a contribution to a scholarship fund for women veterans that will be established in Ginny’s name. Contributions may be made online at Since Stargazer lilies were Ginny’s favorite, please plant some Stargazer bulbs in the spring in your garden and think of Ginny every year they bloom. A celebration of life will occur in Ginny’s home state of Vermont in the spring, and she will be buried in the Vermont Veterans Cemetery in Randolph. Our hearts are broken.

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