Departing head of Warrior Care Policy stresses recovering Service members, families must remain a priority


 

John R. Campbell, who recently stepped down as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Warrior Care Policy, greets an athlete during the 2012 Warrior Games.

John R. Campbell, who recently stepped down as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Warrior Care Policy, greets an athlete during the 2012 Warrior Games.

A message from departing Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Warrior Care Policy, John R. Campbell

When I left the Marine Corps in 1970, I was fortunate to re-enter an American community, and a job market, where people knew what it meant to be a veteran. When I got my first post-military job in the financial services industry, six in 10 top officers across all sectors had served in the military. They knew what I, and other veterans, could bring to the table and they were happy to give us a chance.

Today less than 1 percent of our entire country is currently serving in or connected to the military. Many of the remaining 99 percent have little to no idea what it takes to serve in today’s military, and what these men and women can bring to their communities and companies. And some of them don’t even remember that we are still a country at war!

Certainly our country faces a number of pressing issues—a slowly-recovering economy, the specter of sequestration, threats from abroad—but the welfare of our Service men and women simply has to remain our top priority. These are men and women who have left their families for a total of years at a time over the past decade of overseas conflict. These are men and women who put their lives on the line every day defending our freedom far away. These are men and women whose families accept the responsibility of running the home front while they are away and who, in many cases, accept the responsibility of caring for their Service member when they become wounded, injured or otherwise ill.

And so, these are men and women who deserve the very best assistance, opportunities and support we can give them when they return home.

The chance to provide—and hopefully enhance—that support is what attracted me to this position in the first place, and has been my goal in the nearly three years I have been honored to serve as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Warrior Care Policy. I think we have done good work. Among some of the accomplishments I am most proud of are the reduction of time wounded, ill and injured Service members spend in the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES), the creation of a practical, collaborative education and employment initiative for transitioning wounded, ill and injured Service members, the expansion of our federal internship program, Operation Warfighter, and ongoing enhancements to the online National Resource Directory.

I have also been inspired and moved by displays of perseverance and human spirit that I could never have imagined. A wounded warrior athlete pushing his hand cycle across the finish line of a race, palms to the pavement, when his chain broke with kilometers—uphill!—to go. A triple amputee—the first in the Air Force—who could only tell me what an honor it was for him to serve. A wife, caring for a husband with severe post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, who said when she came to the decision point of whether to stay or cut her losses and leave, she just couldn’t walk away.

It has truly been my honor to serve our wounded, ill and injured Service members, their families and caregivers. I am proud of the work we have accomplished. And I know we have a lot of work left to do. I did not make my decision to leave my position with the Office of Warrior Care Policy lightly. It was the result of much thought and reflection. But ultimately I believe I can do even more of this critical work back in the civilian sector. And so I bid you good-bye for now, until we meet again.