U.S. Congressman, Pennsylvania Governor, First Secretary of Homeland Security
Because he was in law school when he received his draft notice, this month's guest columnist could easily have taken a student deferment. He chose instead to become a foot soldier, earning a Bronze Star for valor in Vietnam. In 1982 he became the first enlisted Vietnam veteran elected to Congress. He was elected Governor of Pennsylvania in 1994 and was reelected in 1998. In 2001, following the attacks of 9/11, President Bush named him to lead the first White House anti-terrorism office. Two years later he became the first Secretary of the newly created Department of Homeland Security. He now heads his own Washington consulting firm, Ridge Global LLC.
Here's his account of his time in uniform and the impact it has had on his life.
My first contact with the military came in the summer of 1968. Having returned to my home in Erie, Pennsylvania, after my first year of law school, I received my draft notice.