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    2011 Defense Forum Washington

    The 2011 Defense Forum Washington will be held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The International Trade Center is easily accessible from three major international airports – Reagan Washington National, Dulles and BWI. The Federal Triangle metro stop (orange/blue lines) is located on site, and the Metro Center metro stop (red line) is just two blocks away. For drivers, an underground garage provides parking for 2,000 cars.

    The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

    1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, D.C. 20004


    The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center is located on historic Pennsylvania Avenue in the heart of Washington, DC, within walking distance of the White House, the Capitol, Smithsonian Museums, many of Washington, DC's finest hotels and other prominent businesses, historical sites and cultural organizations.


    The 2011 Defense Forum Washington will be held in the Atrium and Atrium Hall on the Concourse Level of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.


    The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center features on-site, public parking near popular Washington, DC area attractions such as the National Mall, Warner Theater and National Theater.


    The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center conveniently offers public parking near area metro stations. The Federal Triangle metro stop (orange/blue lines) is connected to the Ronald Reagan Building by a covered passageway. The Metro Center metro stop (red line) is two blocks away, and the Smithsonian metro stop (orange/blue lines) is within walking distance. 


    Admiral Peter Daly, Chief Executive Officer of the United States Naval Institute

    Admiral Norbert R. Ryan, Jr., President of the Military Officers Association of America 

    Mission Statement

    United States Naval Institute

    Military Officers Association of America

    Fact Sheet

    Military Officers Association of America

    Media Inquires

    Scot Christenson

    Director of Communications, USNI


    [email protected]

    Nancy Carr

    Deputy Director of Public Relations, MOAA


    [email protected]

    Press Releases

    MOAA and USNI Host Fifth Annual Defense Forum

    Dr. John Nagl, Opening Keynote Speaker

    Setting the tone for the 2011 Defense Forum Washington: The Journey Back, in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 26, 2011 was Dr. John Nagl, the President of the Center for a New American Security. Nagl examined the evolution of the U.S. military and warfare from the end of the Cold War onward in his keynote address to the forum.

    “This last decade of warfare has truly been a revolution for the United States military,” Nagl said. “We adapted to a very old type of warfare for which we were not prepared. We developed new tools to defeat terrorists and most of all, we’ve seen truly extraordinary determination and courage from a new great generation – I think the new greatest generation of young Americans, who for the first time since the Revolutionary War have fought an extended campaign purely as volunteers – truly an extraordinary accomplishment.”

    Nagl explained that warfare changed after the Cold War – from Operation Desert Storm, through Sept. 11, 2001 and the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and noted the amount of success considering these circumstances was remarkable.

    “As impressive as all these accomplishments are, a learning Army and Marine Corps, an Air Force that increasingly relies upon unmanned aircraft to rule the skies and Navy SEALs and special operation s who conduct literacy dozens of operations every night – to me the most remarkable fact of the past decade of war is that every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine who has served has been a volunteer. When America created the all-volunteer force at the end of Vietnam, it could not have imagined that within a generation volunteers would fight for 10 years in two protracted irregular wars.”

    And Nagl closed by saying that it is important that these veterans are not forgotten along the way, calling it a “solemn obligation.”

    “We have a solemn obligation to these veterans who volunteered to put themselves in harm’s way – and to their families which also carry the scars of the war,” Nagl said. “While many are stronger for the trials they endure, all have been forever changed many with visible wounds , more with damage that is invisible to the naked eye but no less traumatic for being on the scene.”

    The Honorable Terrie Suit, Keynote Speaker

    While a lot of attention has been put on what the federal government can do to ease the transition of veterans from military to civilian life, what can state and local governments do on their end to help with the process?

    Terrie L. Suit, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security for the Commonwealth of Virginia, has created somewhat of a template for other state government to follow. As the second opening keynote speaker at the 2011 Defense Forum in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 26, 2011, she explained how her role as a “Navy wife” led her to champion the cause as a politician in the Virginia state legislature.

    “As a wife, I supported by husband through multiple conflicts – the Gulf War, Haiti, Kosovo,” she said. “America was supportive, but not completely united. I still felt that our voices were somewhat muted. In 1999, I ran for office as a Navy wife – never as a SEAL wife. That was very, very important in our community. You never exploited being a part of that special operations group. So publicly, it was just a ‘Navy wife,’ which is fantastic to be a Navy wife.”

    Once Suit launched her political career, she explained some of the things she led the charge on for active duty military and veterans, including in-state tuition for active duty military personnel and their children, special considerations and treatment for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that have found their ways into the state judicial system, the ability to obtain state-issued ID cards and driver’s licenses and a sales tax exemptions in certain circumstances.

    But despite these gains in her home state of Virginia, she explained that it will require a certain vigilance to maintain them and prevent them from being targeted in budget cutting processes.

    “Remember, they cannot politically advocate for themselves when on active duty,” Suit said. “You are the voice. You truly speak for those to pay the ultimate price to protect the political freedom of America, yet are not positioned to speak out politically for themselves as the ranks of our disabled veterans grow, the financial burden to keep America’s commitment will grow.”

    “Community Reintegration – The Challenges Back Home”

    A component of the “Journey Back” from the battlefield to civilian life is reintegration into the community, which may not be as simple as it sounds.

    At the 2011 Defense Forum Washington, the topic was discussed in detail and issues often overlooked were brought to the forefront. Fox News national security analyst K.T. McFarland moderated the focused on the specifics of reintegration. She began by framing the topic in its historical context.

    “After the Vietnam War, we treated our veterans shamefully,” McFarland said. “It was an unpopular war as Secretary [Terrie] Suit just pointed out and didn’t end well. Instead of blaming ourselves, we blamed the military. When they came home in the 1970s, we did not honor them for their service. We did not adequately care for their families and we did not give them the support and medical attention they needed. It was a war we wanted to forget and so we forgot about them as well.”

    She called the aftermath of Vietnam “a stain on the soul of America,” and, at that time, as an incoming member of the Reagan administration’s Department of Defense, McFarland explained that what she found was alarming – such as veterans with prosthetics that didn’t fit and active duty military personnel paid so little they qualified for food stamps. To her, that is a lesson that should be applicable to today’s military and asserted that it should never be allowed to happen again – including not only the physical effects from military service, but the mental ones as well. She went on to discuss how they can be overcome through the reintegration process.

    According to McFarland, since only 1 percent of the U.S. population serves in the military and 10 percent of the population even know someone in the military, these issues are often overlooked.

    First up on the panel was Major General James A. Adkins, the adjutant general of the Maryland National Guard.

    “We’ve been at war a decade,” he said. “We’re using the Guard and Reserve at a level not seen since World War II. Tens of thousands of Marylanders have served in combat and continue to do that. There’s a lot of lessons learned that I think maybe we have not used and we need to capture the lessons we are learning now as we build systems for the future.”

    One of those lessons according to Adkins can be learned from the face that America ran World War II on a system that was designed for World War I. Today, the country is running on system designed for World War II and trying to upgrade it. Adkins likened the process to working on a car as it is traveling 65 mph down the road.

    “The war is not over until those folks are fully integrated back at home with their families, with their friends and their communities, back at work or on the college campuses,” Adkins said. “I think that we need to prepare for the next war. We need to look at our systems now identify those lessons learned and work on building that system that is going to support the needs of our nation and our veterans in the future.”

    Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Todd Bowers, who served two tours in Iraq and was awarded the Purple Heart and Navy Commendation medal with “V” device for Valor, is a product of the current system.

    Bowers has insight into the status quo for veteran reentry. In the 2004 battle for Fallujah in Iraq, he was hit by a sniper. The bullet exploded the telescope lens of his rifle. Then a month later, he was wounded in the knee by a mortar round. 

    “I was lucky,” Bowers said for his bio. “The bullet stopped an eighth of an inch from my eye. It fouled up my face … and I lost 80 percent of the hearing in my left ear.”

    Despite that traumatic experience, Bowers explained he was reluctant to go to the Vet Center for help and instead tried to “take care of himself.” Speaking from his experience, he said eventually circumstances forced him to seek help.

    “We don’t focus on it and the general is correct in that it takes years for these things to start manifesting,” Bowers said. “You start questioning why you’re not sleeping correctly. You start wondering why you have a hard time getting along with my friends and it was literally two months ago where all these things came together at just the right time.”

    Bowers explained that had he sought help early on while making the transition to civilian life, some of those the problems he faced might have been prevented, which was a lesson he said should be emphasized to anyone transitioning out of the military.

    Nicole M. Keesee, a licensed clinical social worker from Little Rock, Ark. and a Behavioral Health Officer at the rank of Colonel in U.S. Army Reserve with 37 years of service under her belt, was one of the professionals at the Vet Center about which Bowers spoke. 

    Keesee explained of some the differences that those transitioning out of military life often overlook, such as a system with rank and command that is closed and much different from civilian life. She explained that “emotional stoicism” is fostered in the military is one of the obstacles the veterans face when leaving military life. 

    “You have to be tough,” she said. “You have to put your best face forward. Civilian life requires emotional investment, emotional relationships. It’s one of the challenges we face. It’s difficult for the military to provide community support, especially if you’re outside an installation.”

    She added the complication of reaching those who might be in need of help is universal due to geographic constraints.

    Dr. David G. Brown, a clinical psychologist and an expert on suicide prevention with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, echoed those concerns. He said that often, particularly overseas, the resources are scarce. 

    He explained that poor nutrition and lack of rest often leads to deterioration in soldiers’ mental conditions. However, Brown touted an Army program called Soldier 360° taught them how to deal with these issues. 

    The lesson: Humor is the best medicine and they are able to use the program as a laboratory in understanding how an active duty soldier is able to deal with any such demons and in recognizing how they viewed the world, their role and their sense of responsibility.

    The next panelist, USAF Lt. Col. Rodney Lewis from Joining Forces, part of the Office of the First Lady, spoke about the initiatives put forth from the East Wing of the White House, including overcoming hurdles dealing with employment for vets and their spouses, education for military families and mental wellness, which he called “a tripod.” Since military duty may require some relocation, he offered one such example of what the Joining Forces program offers.

    “Education for military families is an important piece we are trying to improve with great agencies like the National Math and Science Initiative,” Lewis said. “We work on Advanced Placement courses specifically for schools that support military members.”

    Finally speaking on this panel was Mrs. April Marcum, the wife of Ret. USAF Sgt. Tom Marcum. Tom Marcum was a 14-year active duty member of the U.S. Air Force. 

    In July of 2008 while getting a mobile armory ready for transition, Marcum was working outside by himself when there was incoming mortar which landed 35 yards away. He sustained a traumatic brain injury. However, the symptoms were not initially apparent and April Marcum told story of what she had to overcome in terms of her husband recognizing those symptoms and the bureaucratic hurdles she faced in attempting to get help from the government.

    “The local medical community, including the Air Force medical doctor, seemed to be reluctant to help,” she said. “Tom’s primary care doctor implied that Tom was trying to get out of work. This felt like a slap in the face to both of us because he served almost 15 years active duty with never complaining of multiple deployments or shin splints or anything.”

    Eventually the Marcums took it up with the medical command and he underwent a long, arduous process to evaluate his health. Only then was it discovered that Tom Marcum had suffered from trauma, and that was nearly a year after he returned from Iraq.

    April Marcum said although the cost initially was burdensome and the process was slow, they eventually got the help he needed. But, it was a lesson in things that needed to be improved for military transitioning back to civilian life that might have sustained injuries in the battlefield.

    Luncheon Keynote Speaker: Army Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli

    Ensuring that veterans just leaving military life make a smooth transition back to the civilian world is important to the Pentagon, according to Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. 

    During the luncheon keynote address, Chiarelli discussed that transition for those who have been injured in the line of duty, including the often unrecognizable PTSDs and other brain injuries.

    “As of Sept. 1, 60 percent of our most seriously wounded soldiers were suffering from post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury,” Chiarelli said. “I frequently refer to them as the signature wounds of this war.  And the fact is there are many others effected that are not enrolled in our Army Wounded Warrior program, or are yet to be diagnosed. We must get a handle on this.”

    Getting a handle on those injuries is difficult Chiarelli said. Although they are just as serious as bullet wounds or other war injuries, injuries involving psychological or mental abnormalities are not as easily recognizable.  

    Identifying those injuries is only part of the problem. Getting those afflicted treatment by overcoming the bureaucracy is admittedly a huge problem for the military, Chiarelli said. He suggested that though there have been improvements, including more collaboration between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, it’s still on the minds of the leadership within the Pentagon.

    “The partnership has never been better than it is today,” Chiarelli said. “I’m doing a video teleconference once a month with the VA, my mission commanders at all my posts and my medical commanders to ensure we’re all over this. But it’s a big problem. The problem is huge.”

    Chiarelli noted there are structural problems with the current system that is geared toward rehabilitating those that have sustained injuries while serving their country - including a system that inadvertently rewards people not to get better and improve their condition. As one panelist had said to the forum earlier, the system was a World War II-era system that is ill-equipped to deal with a modern day all-volunteer military.

    “We need to holistically, I think blow the whole thing up and start all over again,” Chiarelli said. “I really believe it is a system that is needed to be reformed.”

    “Development to Deployment – Are We Really Committed to Hiring Wounded Warriors?”

    One of the key goals according to many at the 2011 Defense Forum Washington was to imagine a method that would make it easier for those that served in the U.S. Armed Forces transitioning back into civilian society to find employment.

    With a bad economy, however, accomplishing that may be more difficult than in other eras when the country was winding down a military build-up according to panel moderator Barbara Starr, the Pentagon correspondent for CNN.

    “Younger male veterans, 18 to 24-years old face unemployment rates as high as 26 percent,” Starr said. “Nearly 2.5 million men and women have left the active duty military since Sept. 2001. That’s 2.5 million that need meaningful work.”

    Those jobs tended to be construction, mining, manufacturing, transportation, utilities, information services, professional and business service, which she said were all sectors of the economy that have experienced employment declines.

    Ret. Marine Corps Capt. Chris Ayres, a wounded veteran who is now part of Northrop Grumman’s Operation Impact Hire, a program that promotes the employment of severely wounded service members and their families, had some words of caution for employers. He relayed his own experience as a wounded veteran and his concerns with Northrop Grumman’s wounded veteran program as a lesson for others with good intentions.

    “In my experience I’ve seen a lot of organizations that hold themselves out, ‘Hey we want to hire wounded vets,’” Ayres said. “And that’s great, but sometimes it’s like a trophy case. You know, I’m not a trophy piece. I don’t want to come into your organization. I want to work. Because I’m wounded, I’m not a rock star. I just want to get back to work and provide a functional aspect in society, contribute to the rest of society.”

    Ayres added that even though some organizations have the best intentions, they tended to be “immature” once they had hired the individual and decide what they are going to do with him or her.

    Paul Cofoni, president and CEO of CACI, Inc., communicated those same concerns, saying that these companies often attempt to work with the wounded veteran hospital facilities like Walter Reed and the Bethesda Naval Hospital. Those efforts are, however, sometimes greeted with skepticism.

    “Initially those interactions were met with some suspicion because there are a lot of interactions that happen around wounded warriors that are as much about publicity or feeling good as there are real efforts to help the recovery process and the reintegration process,” Cofoni said. 

    Ismael “Junior” Ortiz, the deputy assistant secretary of veterans’ employment and training services at the Department of Labor acknowledged the federal government has much work to do, especially with a 26 percent unemployment rate for veteran males 18-24. But he said that the Labor Department had other issues they were working on as well as it pertained to military vets. One of those was homelessness among veterans, which he claimed the Labor Department was making strides in solving.

    “We’re doing that,” he said. “We’re working on it as hard as we can. Within DoL, we have certain programs, especially with the vets programs and veterans’ employment programs. We have HVRPs, which are ‘Homeless Veterans Reintegration Programs.’ Pretty successful programs, ladies and gentlemen, I got to tell you.”

    Ortiz, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, said helping unemployed veterans wouldn’t be easy as it might seem.

    “The fact of the matter is you have to be able to deal with all those issues if you will before you can actually get a person to move on before you can actually do anything,” he said. “And I don’t care if you’re the best employer in the world. If you don’t understand that, if you don’t understand that culture, if you don’t understand where they’re coming from – you can have the best employee in the world, but you’re not going to be able to retain him or her and going to be able to make them work effectively. You have to understand who they are first, whether they’re wounded or whether they’re not. Whether they were in combat or they never even saw a fire or something being shot at.”

    Ret. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Kevin Schmiegel, vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, emphasized importance of these veterans programs and made the case for them getting special attention.

    “If you look at the numbers, there are 12 million veterans in the workforce,” Schmiegel said. “A million of them are unemployed. A lot of people say to me, ‘So what’s the big deal? That’s roughly the same average as the national average.’ I have to bite my tongue as a veteran myself I really want to give them an answer, ‘Are you kidding me? If someone leaves their family for a year at a time, you’re asking me why we should be doing a program for veterans? You got to be kidding me.’”

    Instead Schmiegel said he doesn’t say that and says he makes the business case for hiring a veteran. But he added if something isn’t done – the 9 percent veteran unemployment level across the board, and higher for certain segments of the military population, will grow and be unmanageable. 

    “If we’re drawing down the force and we have 100,000 Guard and reservist demobilizing this year alone, that 9 percent number will grow,” he said. “We have to do something about it now.”

    Closing Keynote Speaker: The Honorable Allison A. Hickey

    Ret. Brigadier General Allison A. Hickey, the Under Secretary for Benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs, wrapped up the event

    Although she only just took the post in June, Hickey told the crowd about several of her early accomplishments. One of which has been improving access issues for veterans.

    “If we get them on an E-Benefits account,” she said.” I get less people calling me from what we know our top issue is right now when they call us, which is ‘what’s the status of my claim,’ ‘explain this confusing letter I just got on my claim to me,’ and the third one is ‘what’s the status of my appeal.’ They can get the first and the third one right now today on their E-Benefits account. So that’s one of the ways from a benefit side we’re trying to increase access and we’re working on that hard.”

    Hickey explained that when she originally started her role as undersecretary, there were 250,000 enrollees in the E-Benefits program. She claims they are now approaching 1 million enrollees.

    “We’re working closes with DoD and I’m really appreciating the partnership they’re providing under the leadership if Gen. Chiarelli and others and I appreciate all that they do,” she said. 

    Hickey went on to say that the VA is working on overhauling the transition assistance program with the Department of Defense.

    “We’re going to revamp that thing and when we do, it needs to be not just a class or a course – it needs to be an entire experience and Sec. [Eric] Shinseki will tell you we need to gracefully take people out of the service into their new career with as much focus and as much process and as much dedication and deliberate action as we did with bring them on.”

    Hickey also pointed out initiatives dealing with Agent Orange from Vietnam era and post-Sept. 11 G.I. bill funds as other accomplishments by the VA.

    To see the complete gallery of images from the 2011 Defense Forum Washington, visit our Flickr set.

    General Registration Information

    Advanced registration for Defense Forum Washington is now closed.

    Onsite registration opens at 7:45am on Monday, September 26, 2011 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The conference will be held in the Atrium Ballroom on the Concourse Level.

    To expedite on-site registration, we ask that that you please print and fill out a registration form and bring it with you to the conference.

    Please contact Karen Kaufman for registration questions.

    Registration Form [PDF]

    Printer Friendly Schedule

    A National Commitment to Helping Wounded Warriors and Families Transition

    Monday, September 26, 2011
    7:45AM - 8:30AM Continental Breakfast
    7:45AM - 9:45AM Registration
    8:35AM - 8:50AM Welcome
    8:50AM - 9:10AM Opening Keynote Speaker
    • Keynote Speaker: Dr. John Nagl, President, Center for a New American Security (Confirmed)
    9:10AM - 9:30AM
    9:30AM - 9:45AM Coffee Break – Networking & Exhibits
    9:50AM - 11:30AM Panel: "Community Reintegration - The Challenges Back Home"
    11:35AM - 12:50PM Luncheon Keynote Speakers
    1:00PM - 2:15PM Panel:  "Deployment to Employment – Are We Really Committed to Hiring Wounded Warriors"
    2:15PM - 2:30PM Break – Networking & Exhibits
    2:35PM - 3:00PM Closing Keynote Speaker
    3:00PM - 3:10PM Closing Remarks
    3:10PM - 3:45PM Networking & Exhibits

    GEN Peter W. Chiarelli, USA
    GEN Peter W. Chiarelli, USA

    Keynote Speaker

    Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army


    General Peter W. Chiarelli became the 32nd Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army on August 4th, 2008. In his previous assignment, he was the Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense from March 2007 to August 2008. He hails from Seattle, Washington and is a Distinguished Military Graduate of Seattle University. General Chiarelli was commissioned a second lieutenant of Armor in September 1972. Throughout his career he has served in Army units in the United States, Germany and Belgium. He has commanded at every level from platoon to corps.

    His principal staff assignments have been as the Operations Officer, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas; Executive Assistant and later Executive Officer to the Supreme Allied Commander, Commander United States European Command at SHAPE Headquarters, Mons, Belgium; as the Director of Operations, Readiness and Mobilization, at Headquarters, Department of the Army.

    He commanded a motorized infantry battalion at Fort Lewis, Washington; an armor brigade at Fort Lewis, Washington; served as the Assistant Division Commander for Support in the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas; commanded the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas and in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom II; and commanded Multi-National Corps-Iraq.

    General Chiarelli holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science from Seattle University, a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Washington, a Masters of Arts in National Security and Strategy from Salve Regina University.

    Mrs. Beth Chiarelli
    Mrs. Beth Chiarelli

    Keynote Speaker


    Beth Chiarelli was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She graduated with a degree in Community Services from Seattle University, which is where she met Pete. They were married in August of 1972. From consoling the wounded to comforting families, Beth Chiarelli has served this nation in countless ways.  She has also moved the Chiarelli family more than 25 times in over 30 years of marriage.

    She has served military families for 36 years by volunteering in numerous organizations supporting military spouses and children. She played a pivotal role at Fort Hood in developing Care Teams to support those families receiving the worst possible news during a deployment, and Beth asked the Army's historian to document the teams as a way families are uniting. Army officials say Care Teams were among the first efforts to standardize support for surviving spouses by using what has long been the practice of military wives during war.

    She is currently serving on the board of the Military Child Education Coalition, working on Partnership Development and is an instructor for the “Living in the New Normal” (LINN) initiative, whichwas developed through collaboration with experts in the fields of trauma and grief, resiliency, health care, and child development.  LINN encourages families to ensure their children have the tools to weather life's storms, fosters homefront efforts to support military children, and provides educators and other concerned adults with information to help them support children during times of uncertainty, trauma, and grief. LINN's efforts are predicated on the belief that children are courageous and resilient and that these skills can be strengthened through deliberate encouragement by the adults in their lives. As the LINN initiative has grown and evolved, in 2009, the name was changed to Living In the New Normal: Helping Children Thrive through Good and Challenging Times.

    In 2004, Beth supported an eight-year tradition for Ballet Austin in featuring local celebrities in the loveable and outrageous role of Mother Ginger.  During the performance featuring Mrs. Chiarelli, audience members were able to send holiday greetings to the Soldiers in Iraq. In addition, Ballet Austin worked with Fort Hood to send video footage of the special performance to the troops.

    The Honorable Allison A. Hickey
    The Honorable Allison A. Hickey

    Keynote Speaker

    Under Secretary for Benefits, Department of Veterans Affairs


    Retired Brigadier General Allison A. Hickey assumed the duties of Under Secretary for Benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on June 6, 2011.

    As Under Secretary for Benefits, Hickey leads more than 20,000 employees in the delivery of a wide range of integrated programs of nonmedical benefits and services to Veterans, their dependents and survivors. Through a nationwide network of 57 regional offices, special processing centers, and VBA Headquarters, she directs the administration of VA’s disability compensation, pension, education, home loan guaranty, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and life insurance programs, and an annual budget of more than $72.3 billion.

    Prior to her appointment, Hickey led Human Capital Management for the consulting company Accenture in their work for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency – supporting operational business processes for intelligence community organizations in the areas of customer relationship management, call center practices and 21st Century information technology systems.

    As the Director of the Air Force’s Future Total Force office at the Pentagon, she provided leadership and oversight for four divisions in the areas of strategic planning, mission development, public and congressional affairs and program and resource implementation for more than 140 new Air Force units. Hickey was responsible for shifting billions of dollars towards new capabilities across the Air Force portfolio and directing new organizational models for a world-wide 500,000 person organization including active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units and personnel to create a common Air Force policy, mission, and culture – known in the Department as the Total Force Perspective.

    Prior to that assignment, Hickey served as the assistant deputy director of Strategic Planning, where she provided leadership and oversight for five divisions. She also served as chief of the Air Force Future Concepts and Transformation Division focused on the integration of technologies, organizations and concepts of operation to model for the Air Force of 2025.

    Hickey is a 27-year Veteran of the Air Force having served on active duty, in the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserves. Her Air Force career began in 1980 as a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s first class to include women. As a pilot and aircraft commander, she accumulated more than 1,500 hours of flight time in KC-10A, KC-135A, T-38 and T-3 aircraft.
    She is the daughter of retired Lt. Gen. William J. Hilsman, a Vietnam Army Veteran, and Jean Hilsman, who served as a director and past president of the National Military Family Association and as the first Department of Defense Family Policy Office director. Hickey is married to retired Col. Robert Hickey, a 30-year Veteran and former A-10 and C-130 pilot.

    Dr. John Nagl
    Dr. John Nagl

    Keynote Speaker

    President, Center for a New American Security


    Dr. John Nagl is the President of the Center for a New American Security.  He is also a member of the Defense Policy Board, a Visiting Professor in the War Studies Department at Kings College of London, a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies.  Dr. Nagl has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Commission on Wartime Contracting and served on the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel (the Hadley/Perry Commission).  He sits on the advisory boards of Mission Essential Personnel, the Spirit of America, and the Journal of the Royal United Services Institute.  Dr. Nagl is also a member of the Joint Force Quarterly Advisory Committee, a Young Leader of the French-American Foundation and the American Council on Germany, and a member of the Diplomatic Finnish Sauna Society of Washington.

    Dr. Nagl was a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Military Academy Class of 1988 who served as an armor officer in the U.S. Army for 20 years.  His last military assignment was as commander of the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor at Fort Riley, Kansas, training Transition Teams that embed with Iraqi and Afghan units.  He led a tank platoon in Operation Desert Storm and served as the operations officer of a tank battalion task force in Operation Iraqi Freedom, earning the Combat Action Badge and the Bronze Star medal.  Dr. Nagl taught national security studies at West Point’s Department of Social Sciences and in Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program and served as a Military Assistant to two Deputy Secretaries of Defense.  He earned his Master of the Military Arts and Sciences Degree from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, where he received the George C. Marshall Award as the top graduate, and his doctorate from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

    Dr. Nagl is the author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam and was on the writing team that produced the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. His writings have also been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, Parameters, Military Review, Joint Force Quarterly, Armed Forces Journal, The Washington Quarterly, and Democracy, among others. He was profiled in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times Magazine.  Dr. Nagl has appeared on The News Hour with Jim Leher, National Public Radio, 60 Minutes, Washington Journal, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He has lectured domestically and internationally at military war colleges, the Pentagon's Joint Staff and Defense Policy Board, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, major universities, intelligence agencies, and business forums.

    The Honorable Terrie L. Suit
    The Honorable Terrie L. Suit

    Keynote Speaker

    Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security for Virginia


    The Honorable Mrs. Terrie L. Suit was appointed by Governor Bob McDonnell to the position of Assistant to the Governor for Commonwealth Preparedness in January of 2010. In 2011, following the passage of HB1773 during the general assembly session, Assistant Suit was then appointed as Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security by Governor McDonnell. This name change and re-organization of the office serves as an important and focused vehicle for elevating veterans issues in the Commonwealth of Virginia providing a clear path for making Virginia the “most veteran friendly state in the nation.” Part of this re-organization included the Department of Veterans Services being moved under Mrs. Suit. On the Homeland Security side, Mrs. Suit works with federal, state, and local officials, as well as the private sector, to develop a seamless, coordinated security and preparedness strategy and implementation plan. She also serves as Virginia's Homeland Security Advisor and is the direct liaison between the Governor and the federal Department of Homeland Security.

    Formerly, Mrs. Suit spent nearly a decade representing the citizens of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. During her time in office she chaired both the General Laws Committee and the Virginia Housing Commission. She also served on the Commerce and Labor, Counties Cities and Towns, Education, Privileges and Elections, and Agriculture Committees. Then Delegate Suit's assignments dealt with a wide range of business issues as well as concentrations in housing, preparedness, base realignment and closure (BRAC) activities, and military relations. Prior to serving in the General Assembly, Terrie served for three years as a gubernatorial appointee to the Virginia Real Estate Board.

    Before joining Governor McDonnell's Administration Mrs. Suit worked on business development and as a Government Affairs Director at the law firm of Williams Mullen. She focused her practice on helping companies and associations navigate the federal and state legislative and agency process, as well as advising businesses on relocation and expansion opportunities within Virginia. As a collateral duty she served on the Firm's Women's initiative and Diversity committees and spearheaded leadership training initiatives for the firm's Hampton Roads offices.

    Mrs. Suit continues to be an active community leader. She has served on the executive committee of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and was the 2006 and 2007 chair of the Chamber's Lead Hampton Roads Board of Trustees. Mrs. Suit has also served on the Virginia Beach Contemporary Art Center Board of Trustees, the Old Dominion University's Alumni Association Board and is currently a member of the Navy League of the United States. She has received numerous awards including the Hampton Roads Women in Business Honoree Award in 2009, the Hampton Roads Outstanding Professional Women in Public Service Award in 2005, the YWCA's Women of Distinction Award in 2004, The Leadership Hampton Roads “Julian Hirst” Leadership Award in 2003 and the Virginia Women's Attorneys Association 2002 Advocacy Award of Excellence.

    Terrie Suit was selected as one of Virginia Lawyers Weekly's "Influential Women of Virginia" for 2010. This award program, started in 2009, recognizes the outstanding efforts of women in the Commonwealth in all fields, including law, business, health care, education and the arts. The honors are given to individuals who are making notable contributions to their chosen professions, their communities and society at large.

    Mrs. Suit grew up the daughter of a career US Army officer and continued her affiliation with the military during her 20 years as a Navy wife. Her husband, Tom, is retired from the United States Navy. Mrs. Suit obtained her associates degree from Tidewater Community College and graduated from Old Dominion University with a bachelor's degree in political science. 

    TSgt Tom Marcum, USAF (Ret.) & Mrs. April Marcum


    Wounded Warrior and Caregiver


    Tom served over fourteen years active duty status in the US Air Force from Jan 1996 through May 2010 at which time Tom was medically retired after a medical evaluation board and put into TDRL (Temporary Duty Retirement List) status. His MOS was 3P0X1B or combat arms weapons expert and at the time of injury he was assigned to the 824th SFS of Moody AFB, GA.

    In June of 2006 he was deployed as a part of the 723 ESFS/DET 7 as part of a specialized Air Force Squadron trained in combat patrols and missions that could assist the Iraqi police in Baghdad. He returned home in Dec 2006 and deployed to Ali Air Base Iraq in Jan of 2008 where he was NCOIC of the armory which involved weapons support for the base and all detached units, day to day operations and responsibility for all weapons stored in the armory.

    In July of 2008 while getting a mobile armory ready for transition, he was working outside by himself when there was incoming mortar which landed 35 yards away. He sustained a traumatic brain injury with a blow-out fracture to the right orbital wall; he has vision, hearing and cognition deficits with short term memory loss and chronic migraines. He also sustained a right shoulder injury and has an otilith disorder.

    The transition from active duty has had many hurdles, but we have had great success too. Because we were at a small Air Force base with a medical clinic, getting adequate medical care was difficult in the beginning. It was not until he was sent to VA Poly-trauma in Tampa, FL that diagnoses were made and medical problems were treated accordingly.

    Unfortunately, we did not have a joint DoD/VA rating when he was retired and ended up waiting almost a year for the VA rating. Which meant that we were living on a 70% DoD rating and SSDI. I had to quit my job as a teacher in the meantime to take care of Tom and get him to all his appointments because he does not drive. Without a VA rating he could not apply for CRSC (Combat related special compensation) or apply for some non-profit groups grant because they required a VA rating. When his rating did come back it was not what we expected and after some research I found that the VA had the wrong patient records attached to our claim. It took another 2-3 months of intensive lobbying by the WWP to get the rating that Tom deserved. We have been married for eighteen years and have two boys, Jared (14) and Gabe (11), in the time that we were "retired" but had no VA rating, we went through our entire life savings to try to keep afloat financially. We must do a better job getting our service men and women through the disability rating process quicker, the C&P process is not working.

    Transitioning in the VA medical program was easier. I am happy to report that we have had excellent medical care in the VA. All of my husband’s therapists, care-managers, and doctors assigned to us are professional, caring people.

    Currently, we are still in a holding pattern for the TDRL evaluation and hope to hear soon what the medical board determinations are for my husband. Tom and I traveled to San Antonio, Texas in June of this year for the TDRL re-evaluation. We have not yet heard any news as to if he will be permanently retired or placed back on TDRL status for another year. Our family has had to overcome some very difficult situations from traveling to the nearest VA hospital that is over two hours away for adequate medical care to having our youngest son diagnosed with secondary PTSD. Our whole life plan changed, we have accepted that and are moving forward to make life as normal as possible for our children. My hopes are that the families that are coming down the pipe from recent loved ones injured in the OIF/OEF have a little easier road to travel because we cared enough to make improvements where they need to be made. Something that politicians, public-servants, and others involved in the lives of wounded warriors need to remember is that America is still at war, a decade is a long time to be at war.

    MG James A. Adkins, MDARNG
    MG James A. Adkins, MDARNG


    The Adjutant General, Maryland National Guard


    Major General James A. Adkins was appointed as the 28th adjutant general of Maryland effective June 1, 2008.  The adjutant general is responsible for the daily operations of the Maryland Military Department which includes the Maryland Army National Guard, Maryland Air National Guard, Maryland Emergency Management Agency and Maryland Defense Force. He is the senior advisor to the governor for those state agencies and is responsible for the readiness, administration and training of more than 7,200 members of the Maryland Military Department. As the adjutant general, he serves as the official channel of communication between the governor and the National Guard Bureau and serves as a member of the governor’s cabinet.

    General Adkins was born in Cambridge and grew up in Dorchester County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  Prior to entering the U.S. Army, he served two years with the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office.

    His military career spans more than 30 years of service in both the enlisted and officer ranks.  He has served at nearly every level of command and in various staff assignments. He is a graduate of the Defense Language Institute’s Russian Language Program in Monterey, California and served in intelligence, infantry and cavalry assignments in the United States and abroad.  His military assignments also include director of military support to civil authorities, counter-drug taskforce commander and coordinator of emergency management operations. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he assisted the Republic of Estonia in its transition to democracy.

    General Adkins’ military decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Maryland Distinguished Service Cross and the Order of the White Cross from the Republic of Estonia.

    General Adkins served in the Maryland Military Department as chief of staff and assistant adjutant general for state operations. He also served as director of the Cemetery and Memorial Programs and as the deputy secretary of Veterans Affairs. In May 2007, Governor Martin O’Malley appointed General Adkins to his cabinet as the secretary of Veterans Affairs. He served as the state’s key advisor for veteran issues until September 2009. For more than a year and a half, General Adkins simultaneously held two cabinet-level positions in the O’Malley administration and he continues to serve as the adjutant general.

    His senior military education includes the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.  He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of the State of New York and a master’s degree from Washington College.

    He is a member of numerous organizations including the Association of the United States Army, National Guard Association, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS, U.S. Army War College Alumni Association, 2nd Armored Division Association, 29th Infantry Division Association, Military Intelligence Corps Association and the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association.

    Capt Chris Ayres, USMC (Ret.)
    Capt Chris Ayres, USMC (Ret.)


    Wounded Veteran and Operation Impact Hire, Northrop Grumman


    Christopher Ayres served as a Marine Machine Gunner for 7 years and then became an infantry officer to finish out his almost 12 years of service in the Marine Corps. While serving with 1stBattalion, 5thMarines, during the 1stBattle of Fallujah, Operation Vigilant Resolve, Chris led his platoon in an attack where they encountered a gauntlet of RPG’s and small arms fire. One of the RPG’s killed the AAV’s gunner Cpl. Kevin Kohlm and another took off the back of Ayres’ right leg after penetrating the AAV and engulfing it in flames.  Surrounded by over 150 enemy personnel, Ayres’ platoon quickly established a hasty defense in a nearby house, recovered Ayres from the trac, repelled three frontal assaults and kept the enemy at bay until the quick reaction force could link up.  His Marines saved his life that day and he pinned 2 Silver Stars on his Platoon Sergeant and SAW Gunner’s chest for doing so. 

    Chris currently works for Northrop Grumman Information Systems in their Health IT business unit.  He is a project manager whose team recently developed the Blue Button Mobile application for the Apple and Andorid smart phones.  The Blue Button App compliments the VA’s Blue Button initiative for all Veterans using the My HealtheVet electronic health record.  

    Mr. Todd Bowers, USMCR




    Todd served two tours in Iraq as a Civil Affairs Team Sergeant with the United States Marine Corps, and was awarded the Purple Heart and Navy Commendation medal with “V” device for Valor.

    In 2004’s battle for Fallujah, he was hit by a sniper. The bullet exploded the telescope lens of his rifle. A month later, he was wounded in the knee by a mortar round. “I was lucky,” he says. “The bullet stopped an eighth of an inch from my eye. It fouled up my face” — “and I lost 80 percent of the hearing in my left ear.”

    Todd also served in Ayacucho, Peru in 2008, where he conducted Civil Military Operations.

    In May 2009, he deployed to Afghanistan for 8 months, where he was responsible for developing governmental infrastructure and humanitarian relief efforts for the war torn region.

    He studied Middle Eastern Affairs and Arabic at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and served on the staff of Congressman Jim Kolbe for two years.

    Todd recently separated from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves as a Staff Sergeant.

    Dr. David Brown
    Dr. David Brown


    Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Subject Matter Expert for Suicide Prevention, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Readiness)


    David G. Brown, Psy.D. is a Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Subject Matter Expert for Suicide Prevention  with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Readiness). Prior to joining OSD, he served at the Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injuryas the Recovery Care Support Program Manager. 

     Dr. Brown holds degrees in Philosophy and Religion, English Literature, Agency Counseling, and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology.  He completed his residency training at the Department of Psychiatry at Tripler Army Medical Center and postdoctoral training in Mind Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and is a graduate of Organizational Leadership for Executives from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.  Dr. Brown is a Senior Fellow with the Neurobehavioral Research Institute, INC., a co-creator of Soldier 360, and a frequent guest on Armed Forces Networks television and radio programs in Japan, India, and Germany.  He has appeared on C-SPAN and was also showcased on ABC News for his work with wounded veterans. 

    For nearly twenty years, fifteen of which were overseas, he has held various positions in academic, operational, and clinical assignments.  After graduating college, he enlisted in the Army, serving from 1992 to 2002.  During this time, he completed a Masters and numerous courses at Service schools, including the Special Operations Medical Sustainment Course, two Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Courses, and Psychological Operations at the JFK Special Warfare Center, and was selected for promotion to Sergeant First Class on September 11, 2001.  From 1995 to 1997, he deployed with the 1st Armored Division Implementation Force (IFOR) to lead soldiers in the Former Yugoslavia and to work with survivors affected by mine strikes, shootings, vehicle fatalities, mass graves, rape, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.  His most recent clinical position was as the Lead Psychologist over seven bases in Bavaria, specializing in treating PTSD and performing a full range of services.  Since 1996, he hastaught undergraduate and doctoral level courses in psychology and sociology at universities in Europe, Hawaii, Japan, and Washington D.C.  He is the recipient ofnumerous military and civilian awards, medals, and citations. 

    Mr. Paul Cofoni
    Mr. Paul Cofoni


    President and CEO, CACI, Inc.


    Paul M. Cofoni is President and Chief Executive Officer of CACI International Inc, $3.5 billion a professional services and information technology (IT) company. 

    Mr. Cofoni’s responsibilities include executing CACI’s strategy to align its core competencies, innovative tools, and best-value solutions to help the U.S. government solve its most important problems in protecting our nation and countering global terrorism. His vision for CACI’s future is for the company to play an ever-expanding role as a national asset, serving as its customers’ preferred integrator and IT provider for their critical missions. 

    In 2008, and again in 2010, Mr. Cofoni was named to Federal Computer Week’s Federal 100 list of government and industry leaders who have had a positive impact on the federal IT community. He has served as Chairman of the Board of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) International and currently is a permanent board member. He is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Professional Services Council and served as chairman of the 2009 American Heart Association’s Greater Washington Region Start! HeartWalk.

    Mr. Cofoni has more than 30 years of senior-level executive experience in business development, M&A, strategic planning, and extensive federal market operations. His professional experience includes large-scale integrator contracts in the broad federal market sector; the defense, intelligence, and communications markets; and major commercial outsourcing and systems markets.

    Before joining CACI, Mr. Cofoni was President, Federal Sector, of Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC). One of the largest systems integrators for federal government agencies, CSC’s Federal Sector contracts included numerous aerospace, defense, and intelligence systems applications and services. Federal Sector revenues under Mr. Cofoni exceeded $5 billion in 2005. Mr. Cofoni also enjoyed a 17-year career with General Dynamics in a number of assignments from 1974 to 1991, when his business unit was acquired by CSC. At General Dynamics, he served as Vice President of Information Technology services for both east and west coast business units. Mr. Cofoni served as an officer in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1974.

    Ms. Nicole M. Keesee, LCSW


    Team Leader, Vet Center, Little Rock Arkansas Office


    Nicole M. Keesee was born in Spokane, Washington and her family moved multiple times during her childhood.  She graduated from Bellevue Senior High School in 1974.  She attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) where she graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in 1982.  She then attended the School of Social Work, UARL, Arkansas, where she graduated with a Master of Social Work (MSW) in 1989.

    She was first hired as a Pharmacy Technician for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 1978.  When she left full-time employment to pursue for academic degree, she was hired as a workstudy student at the Little Rock Vet Center and upon completion of her BA degree, as the Office Manager/Counselor.  She again left full-time employment to obtain her MSW and then went to work in the Family Advocacy Program at the Little Rock Air Force Base for one year.  In 1990, she accepted a social work position in the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment Section.  Nicole joined the Little Rock, Arkansas Vet Center on October 18, 2010 as the Team Leader.

    Nicole enlisted into the United States Army in 1974 as a Private shortly after her high school graduation.  She received training as a combat medic and served two of her three years in Germany.  Instead of separating from the Army, she transitioned into the Army Reserve.  She now serves as a Behavioral Health Officer at the rank of Colonel and expects to retired in June 2012. 

    Military Affiliation: 1974-1977, United States Army (USA); 1977-2003, United States Army Reserve (USAR); 2003-2006, Mobilized in support of the Global War on Terrorism; stateside duty; 2006-2008, Active duty for the USA, Office of the Surgeon General; 2008-2010, Active duty for the USAR, Office of the Chief Army Reserve

    Licenses and Certifications:  Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – Arkansas

    Civic and Professional Affiliations: Reserve Officer Association (ROA)

    Training Attendance 2009-2010: 12th Annual Army Force Health Protection Conference; 2009 DoD/VA Suicide Prevention Conference; Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS) 114th Annual Meeting; VA/DoD OEF/OIF Evolving Paradigms II:  “The Journey Home”; Center for Deployment Psychology; Psychotherapy Networker Symposium:  “Break Through”

    Lt Col Rodney Lewis, USAF
    Lt Col Rodney Lewis, USAF


    Joining Forces, The White House, Office of the First Lady


    Rodney Lewis is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force and an Air Force C-17A pilot. As Commander of the 4thAirlift Squadron, he was directly responsible for the Department of Defense’s only Prime Nuclear Airlift Force, which handles our nation's most sensitive cargo and provides tactically qualified C-17A crews who stand ready to airdrop combat troops and supplies anywhere in the world. 

    In 2008 and 2009, he was the McChord AFB Chief of Safety and his office was awarded Air Mobility Command Safety Office of the Year. Previously, he was assigned to the Office of Legislative Liaison, Secretary of the Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, DC where he served as the Executive to the senior General officer, supervising the internal coordination of Air Force legislative proposals and issues. 

    In 2004 he received the Bronze star for his service in Iraq. In 2010 he was awarded the Air Force Association National Medal of Merit for his work supporting medically challenged children in the Pilot for a Day program. Rodney earned a Systems Management M.S. with Honors from the University of Southern California, and a B.S. in Human Factors Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy. 

    Ms. Kathleen Troia "KT" McFarland
    Ms. Kathleen Troia "KT" McFarland


    National Security Analyst and Host of DEFCON 3, FOX News


    Kathleen Troia “KT” McFarland is FOX News’ National Security Analyst and appears regularly on FOX News and FOX Business News. She is also the host of FOXNews.com’s DEFCON 3, one of the internet’s most watched national security shows. Ms. McFarland writes a column for FOX FORUM, and records a weekly video blog for FOXnews.com, DEFCON 3 by KT. She is also the national security commentator for several radio programs on FOX, ABC, WMAL and WVOX.

    Ms. McFarland held national security posts in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan Administrations: as an aide to Dr. Henry Kissinger on the NSC Staff (1970-76); member of the Senate Armed Services Committee Staff (1981); Senior Speechwriter to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and later the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (PA) and Pentagon Spokesman (1981-84). Ms. McFarland received the Defense Department’s highest civilian award for her work in the Reagan Administration (1985). She was a Republican candidate for the US Senate from New York (2006).

    Ms. McFarland is a graduate of George Washington University (BA), Oxford University (BA, MA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (PhD program, all but dissertation) with concentrations on nuclear weapons, China and the Soviet Union. She received Graduate Fellowships from the Ford Foundation, Institute for the Study of World Politics, and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Hubert Humphrey Fellowship).

    She is a board member of The Jamestown Foundation, the Off the Record Lecture Series, a Distinguished Advisor to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is married to Alan Roberts McFarland and the mother/stepmother of five.

    Mr. Ismael "Junior" Ortiz
    Mr. Ismael "Junior" Ortiz


    Deputy Assistant Secretary, Veterans' Employment and Training Services, Department of Labor


    Mr. Junior Ortiz is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the United States Marines and his professional career spans over 30 years of working in government, corporate and the nonprofit sector. 

    Before coming to VETS, Mr. Ortiz was the Director of Brand Relations for AARP, where he was responsible for designing and implementing marketing and advertising programs, particularly aimed at the Latino and African American markets. He developed and executed national advertising campaigns on print, broadcast and online media, including national bilingual, bi-partisan campaigns to advance healthcare and financial reform. He has been the spokesperson for Spanish language media on such policy issues as Social Security, health care reform, and Medicare, all critical issues impacting seniors and multicultural communities.  

    Mr. Ortiz served as an enlisted man before being accepted to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland where he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Marines. His twenty-seven year career in the Marines included Air Defense, Administration, Communication, Counter-drug Operations, Recruiting, Marketing and Advertising for the Marine Corps and for the Department of Defense, as well as professor and coach at the Naval Academy.

    Upon retiring from the Marines, Mr. Ortiz worked as Senior Vice President and Director of Government Relations for MBNA America where he was responsible for marketing, new business development and community relations within emerging markets.

    Prior to AARP, he was the Principal at Junior Ortiz & Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based public affairs firm equally committed to developing the next generation of young leaders and to analyzing and impacting legislation from a Latino and multicultural perspective.

    His responsibilities have ranged from leading thousands of Marines to managing fiscal budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars and helping to pass critical legislation.

    Mr. Ortiz has a passion for young people. Through his motivational presentations and leadership development workshops, he has reached thousands of children, teens, and young adults with the message of staying in school, staying off drugs and reaching for their dreams. His story growing up in “Hell’s Kitchen” in South Bronx, New York is one that resonates with youth, particularly disenfranchised, gang-involved or traditionally underserved.

    He has a Master of Science in Human Resource Management from Central Michigan University and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a concentration in Latin American studies from the U.S. Naval Academy.

    He has served on the corporate board of advisors of several national Hispanic organizations, on the Board of Directors of the National Hispanic Corporate Council and on the Board of Trustees of the Association of Naval Service Officers. He is a Life Member of the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation and the American GI Forum of the United States.

    BG Gary M. Profit, USA (Ret.)
    BG Gary M. Profit, USA (Ret.)


    Senior Director of Military Programs, Wal-Mart


    After more than 31 years of U.S. Army service, Brigadier General Gary M Profit retired on February 28, 2006, and, until October 2008, he was Director of Human Capital Management Solutions; International Programs; and  Department of Defense Business Transformation Agency Programs, Civilian and Homeland Security Solutions, General Dynamics Information Technology, in which capacities he led a premier provider of lifecycle human capital management technology/service solutions to federal agencies; international technology transfer/export control service solutions for federal agencies; and strategic communications service solutions at DOD BTA, respectively.   Brigadier General (Retired) Profit is currently Senior Director of Military Programs, Walmart, where he directs a synchronized enterprise strategy and complementary implementing programs to attract, recruit, and hire; grow and develop; and retain talent from military community constituencies for the leading global retailer.

    Commissioned Second Lieutenant in 1974 through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, BG(R) Profit held assignments as Executive Officer, Battery Commander, Fire Direction Officer, and S3, 4th Battalion, 20th Field Artillery; Field Artillery Personnel Management Officer, 2nd and 3rd Continental U.S. Army Support Officer, and Headquarters Company Commander, U.S. Army Reserve Personnel Center; Personnel Staff Officer (Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation), Plans Officer (Command and Control Coordination Office), and Staff Support Officer (Office of Programs and Liaison), Office of the Chief, Army Reserve; Project VANGUARD, Office of the Chief of Staff, Army; Congressional Staff Officer (Office of the Chief, Legislative Liaison), Office of the Secretary of the Army; Reserve Component Advisor, Special Operations Command South, Republic of Panama; Commander, 9602nd Command and Control Headquarters Brigade/Commander, 651st Area Support Group; and Director, Public Affairs and Liaison Directorate and Director, Chief Army Reserve Staff Group, OCAR. His uniformed military career culminated with a capstone assignment as Deputy Chief, Army Reserve/Deputy Commander, U.S. Army Reserve Command for Management, Resources and Support.

    A Michigan native, BG(R) Profit graduated from Ypsilanti High School, Ypsilanti, Michigan; received a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan; and earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Master of Science in National Security and Strategic Studies from the College of Naval Warfare, Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island.  He is a graduate of the Field Artillery Officer Basic and Advanced Courses and Command and General Staff Officer Course (Reserve Component).

    BG(R) Profit’s military awards and decorations include: the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with three OLC, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with two OLC, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Staff Identification Badge, and Parachutist Badge.

    BG(R) Profit is a member of the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan, Military Officers Association of America, Reserve Officers Association, Senior Army Reserve Commanders Association, and Association of the U.S. Army.

    LtCol Kevin Schmiegel, USMC (Ret.)
    LtCol Kevin Schmiegel, USMC (Ret.)


    Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


    Kevin M. Schmiegel is the vice president of veterans employment programs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    In leading the veterans employment initiative, Schmiegel is responsible for managing public and private sector partnerships to help veterans and their families transition from military service to the private sector. The program’s objective is to create an environment in which thousands of military veterans can find meaningful employment in their local communities.

    Before joining the Chamber in 2009, Schmiegel served in the United States Marine Corps and retired at the rank of lieutenant colonel after 20 years of service. In addition to his operational tours as a field artillery officer, he served in several unique overseas billets, including assignments as the executive and commanding officer of the Marine Corps Security Force Company in London from 1993 to 1996 and at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium, from 2003 to 2006.

    At SHAPE, Schmiegel was the principal advisor to the NATO and U.S. European commander, traveling to more than 50 countries in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. He also wrote the strategic plans for NATO’s Training Mission in Iraq, increased presence in Afghanistan, and disaster relief operations in support of Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Pakistan.

    Schmiegel served as head of enlisted assignments for the Marine Corps from 2006 to 2007, leading a team of 60 human resources specialists who assigned 170,000 Marines worldwide.

    In 2008, Schmiegel served as the military assistant to the Special Envoy for Middle East Regional Security and deployed to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, where he established the special envoy’s field offices and worked with Israeli and Palestinian authorities on the peace process.

    Schmiegel is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross with a B.A. in English literature and has a M.S. in management (with distinction) from the Naval Postgraduate in Monterey, CA.

    Ms. Barbara Starr
    Ms. Barbara Starr


    Pentagon Correspondent, CNN


    Barbara Starr is a Pentagon correspondent for CNN, based in the network’s Washington, D.C., bureau. 

    Starr provides viewers with the latest news each day from the Pentagon regarding the war in Afghanistan and other national security matters. Since 2003, Starr has made repeated trips to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, where she has been embedded with U.S. troops. She traveled to Beirut, Lebanon in 2006 with U.S. Marines tasked with evacuating Americans during Israel’s war with Hezbollah. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Starr had exclusive access to Lt. Gen. Russel Honore as the only reporter traveling with him as he directed hurricane relief efforts. Starr has also reported directly from the Persian Gulf, Russia, Central America and the Chinese-North Korean border. Starr has profiled numerous wounded troops and reported on the fallen regularly from Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Starr joined CNN in 2001 from ABC News where she had worked since 1998 as a producer for the network’s news originating from the Pentagon, providing on- and off-air reporting on military and national security affairs. She also reported for Nightline, World News This Morning, World News Now, ABC Radio and ABCNews.com. Previously, Starr was the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for Jane’s Defence Weekly, a London-based weekly newsmagazine, where for nine years she covered all aspects of national security, the intelligence community, defense and military policy. During this time, she conducted numerous one-on-one interviews with current secretaries of defense and directors of central intelligence. She also traveled to the Balkans, the Persian Gulf and NATO headquarters in Brussels. Before Jane’s, Starr worked at Business Week where she was a correspondent from 1979-1988. Based in the magazine’s Washington, D.C., bureau, she served as energy correspondent, covering OPEC and other environmental and economic matters.

    While at ABC News, she won an Emmy Award as a location producer at NORAD/Cheyenne Mountain, covering the transition to the new millennium at Moscow rollover time.

    Starr graduated from California State at Northridge with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism.

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