The tireless work of the foundations listed in this category play an important role in strengthening and empowering the veteran community. These foundations provide direct support to the community through the development of employment initiatives, by providing funding for research on veteran-specific health issues, and by bringing relevant dialogue and educational opportunities to the general public in order to increase the overall understanding of veterans and the military community. These foundations’ efforts have worked to bring a number of benefits to veterans, and their commitment to these efforts has increased the overall strength of the veteran and supporter community.
Bob and Lee Woodruff, Founders
Bob Woodruff Foundation
Bob and Lee Woodruff continue to impact the veteran community with their great deeds. Emphasizing rehabilitation and recovery, education and employment, and quality of life, the foundation has provided millions of dollars to entities that are fulfilling these outcomes on behalf of veterans.
In 2014 the foundation provided funds to help veterans to transition into farming, to educating nurses that assist veterans, and to provide programs that reintegrate veterans through a number of physical activities. In 2006, Bob Woodruff was seriously injured by a roadside bomb while reporting for ABC. Since then, he has become a huge advocate on behalf of veterans, service members and those that support them.
Lee Woodruff, as the wife of Bob, has been by his side throughout his recovery. This tragedy that she detailed in her book In an Instant has been the spark that has led to a huge amount of goodwill and assistance to those that serve our Nation.
Support the Woodruff Foundation
Marie Tillman, Co-Founder
The number of Tillman Foundation scholars continues to rise, and their accomplishments do not fail to amaze both the veteran community and its supporters. Founded following the death of Pat Tillman, the foundation has changed over the years into an entity that assists veterans in realizing their dreams through educational scholarships.
Marie Tillman has led the way in turning tragedy into a legacy, one that continues to honor Pat’s life, as well as honoring Marie as a survivor, who has found an impactful purpose in enriching the lives of veterans through education.
Support the Tillman Foundation
Heather Prill, Senior Manager National Partnerships and Atlanta Hometown Giving
Home Depot Foundation
Heather Prill, Senior Manager, National Partnerships and Atlanta Hometown Giving. Since joining the foundation four years ago, Prill has been a leader in expanding support for veteran-serving organizations, both in monetary terms and capacity building programs.
In 2011, The Home Depot Foundation made a major shift in its giving to focus on creating and renovating safe spaces for veterans and their families. After making an initial commitment of $30 million over three years, to date the foundation has invested more than $100 million in the veteran community through organizations like Team Rubicon, Semper Fi Fund, the Gary Sinise Foundation, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, Operation Homefront, Student Veterans of America, and many more.
The Home Depot Foundation isn’t just about donating dollars, it also provides highly skilled volunteers to projects in the form of its Team Depot, which is made up of The Home Depot associates. Additionally, the foundation often provides supplies for projects and, with organizations like Team Rubicon, the use of its stores’ facilities as base camps. Few other companies have made such a huge impact on the veteran community in such a holistic and targeted manner.
Kenneth Fisher, Vice Chairman
Fisher House Foundation, Inc.
Ken Fisher continues his family tradition of providing an amazing “home away from home” when veterans and service members are receiving treatment at facilities across the nation. In 2014, sixty-four Fisher Houses served more than 25,000 families in 2014.
When he is not helping service members and their families, Kenneth Fisher is a senior partner at Fisher Brothers, based in New York City, and is part of the third generation of leadership, overseeing the leasing, management and marketing of more than five million square feet of class-A commercial space in Midtown Manhattan covering the Park, 6th and 3rd Avenue corridors and 1.5 million square feet in Washington DC.
Support Fisher House
David Hiller, President and CEO
Robert McCormick Foundation
The McCormick Foundation continues to provide million in grants to benefit veteran initiatives and education through their well-known Veterans Program.
The Veterans Program is “committed to investing in, learning from, and implementing models of support to enable veterans to become assets in their local and national communities.” The impactful model deployed by the foundation encompasses plans and programs that make a difference in the daily lives of veterans by investing programs that benefit veteran employment, health and reintegration into a civilian lifestyle. The Robert R. McCormick Foundation has been integral in ensuring that veterans are provided with the resources that they need and opportunities that recognize the service that they have provided to the United States.
Learn More About the McCormick Foundation’s efforts for Vets Here
Howard Schultz, Founder
Schultz Family Foundation
In March 2014, the Schultz Family Foundation announced their commitment to honoring the nation’s veterans through their Onward Veterans program. Onward Veterans is an initiative that empowers post-9/11 veterans and recognizes their skill sets, work ethic and leadership skills by providing opportunities that utilize these abilities to make our nation better and stronger. This program also focuses on providing funding for research of PTSD and TBI.
The foundation recently released a book: For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us about Citizenship, Heroism and Sacrifice, which allows the civilian population to engage with the military community and veterans. By raising awareness of the sacrifices made by these individuals and increasing an understanding across the broader public, the Shultz Family Foundation works to bring the service member experience closer to home.
Learn More About the Schultz Foundation Here
Debra Jacobs, President and CEO
The Patterson Foundation
The Patterson Foundation’s Legacy of Valor Campaign is a military initiative that aims to highlight the contributions given by military service men and women. The campaign consists of more than 100 community partnerships and organizations and has the purpose of facilitating events that will benefit and honor veterans and their families. Thus far, the Legacy of Valor Campaign has raised more than $270,000 for non-profits and engaged in more than 200 community events and activities that honored veterans. Most notably, they worked with VA to create Patriot Plaza, a 2,800-seat ceremonial amphitheater at Sarasota National Cemetery that honors veterans, inspires patriotism and embraces freedom. These are only a few of their accomplishments. The campaign hopes that their support of hundreds of grassroots projects will inspire patriotism, and educate communities about the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families.
Learn More About the Patterson Foundation Here
Stephanie Powers, Senior Director for Policy & Partnerships
Council on Foundations
Stephanie Powers is the Executive Branch Liaison managing public-philanthropic partnerships in the Council on Foundations’ Department of Public Policy and Government Relations. The public partnership portfolio complements the Council’s long standing work as the policy voice for philanthropy to the Legislative Branch and ensures that philanthropy has a voice within the Executive branch as well. In her work on behalf of the Council’s membership, Ms. Powers identifies opportunities to connect foundations and government leverage opportunities for mutual benefit, as well as leadership collaborations with national organizations that can help to advance philanthropic missions.
Stephanie’s work played a crucial role in the Philanthropy-Joining Forces Impact Pledge. Hosted by the Council on Foundations and the Veterans Philanthropy Exchange, organizers announced more than $300 million total in commitments to strengthen services and support for veterans and military families nationwide. All participating foundations have also committed to remaining engaged with each other in an ongoing information sharing and collaboration effort.
Gary Sinise, Founder
Gary Sinise Foundation
The Gary Sinise Foundation, serves our nation by
honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders,
their families, and those in need.
They do this by creating and supporting unique
programs designed to entertain, educate,
inspire, strengthen, and build communities.
Learn More About Gary Sinise Foundation Here
Donald Rumsfeld, Founder
The Rumsfeld Foundation
The Rumsfeld Foundation was established in 2007, building on the work of the Joyce and Donald Rumsfeld Foundation, established in 1985, which continues to support a wide range of charities from national parks and educational programs to cultural and health initiatives. Joyce and Donald Rumsfeld created the Rumsfeld Foundation to focus their philanthropic efforts on encouraging public service in the United States and promoting free political and economic systems abroad.
Over the past eight years, the Foundation has granted over 230 Fellowships for U.S. graduate students and young leaders from Greater Central Asia, provided over $3.7 million in microfinance grants and donated more than $3.9 million to charities for our troops, veterans and military families.
Follow Mr. Rumsfeld on Twitter here
Government: Career Employees
The individuals in this category have dedicated their lives to public service. In light of the most recent scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the following have given countless hours to bring pragmatic solutions to the most relevant problems, in addition to the positive work that they already do for the veteran community on a day-to-day basis. This category honors those that devote their lives to serving the interests of veterans, and their work is appreciated and recognized by many in the community.
Scott J. Kelly, Astronaut
As the only veteran in space in 2015 Kelly makes the list. Kelly launched with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko in March 2015 and recently ended his one year mission at the International Space Station.
Kelly received his commission from the State University of New York Maritime College in May 1987 and was designated a naval aviator in July 1989 at Naval Air Station (NAS) in Beeville, Texas. He then reported to Fighter Squadron 101 at NAS Oceana, Virginia Beach, Virginia, for initial F-14 Tomcat training. Upon completion of this training, he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 143 and made overseas deployments to the North Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea and Persian Gulf aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69). He has logged over 8,000 hours in more than 40 different aircraft and spacecraft and has over 250 carrier landings. Kelly holds a United States Coast Guard Third Mate’s license. Kelly retired from the U.S. Navy in June of 2012.
Selected by NASA in April 1996 and a veteran of three space flights, Kelly logged more than 180 days in space on his previous missions.
Follow him on twitter here
Vincent Kane, Associate Director of the Lebanon VA Medical Center
Department of Veterans Affairs
For over a year, Vincent Kane has represented the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in Los Angeles to address Veteran homelessness. In collaboration with others, he developed an action plan and 100 day implementation plan to address the needs of Los Angeles area homeless Veterans, increased Veteran outreach, increased monthly supportive housing rates, hosted close to 100 community meetings across Los Angeles County, and stabilized homeless program operations. He helped foster key legislation to benefit the West Los Angeles campus, improved the partnership between VA and UCLA, addressed exit plans for leases that were not Veteran focused while finalizing the process for agreements with partners who were Veteran focused. Finally, he completed a framework Draft Master Plan for the West Los Angeles VA campus that will better meet the needs of Veterans, as well as fulfill the intent of the original land deed.
Mr. Kane is the Associate Medical Center Director at the Lebanon, Pennsylvania VA Medical Center; however, he has served as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs’ point person leading VA’s efforts to end Veteran homelessness in Los Angeles since the spring of 2015. He previously served as the National Director of the VA Center of Homelessness Among Veterans.
Stacy Vasquez, Director, MyVA Performance Improvement
Department of Veterans Affairs
Stacy Vasquez is a service-connected, disabled veteran that recently served as the Director for MyVA Performance Improvement partnering across the VA to identify and execute select transformational process improvements, while establishing an enterprise-wide strategy and infrastructure that supports a culture of continuous performance and outcome improvement at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Her previous positions include Director, Transitional Assistance Program, Special Assistant to the Secretary, Deputy Director of Homeless Veteran Initiatives at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Other positions she has held within the Department of Veterans Affairs include: Deputy Director for Congressional and Legislative Affairs, Congressional Relations Officer and Presidential Management Fellow. For twelve years prior to working at VA, Ms. Vasquez served in the U.S. Army in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps and as a recruiter.
Outside of work, Ms. Vasquez has done extensive work to further civil rights for military members by assisting with drafting legislation that became law and being a national as well as international media spokesperson on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” She is the recipient of the Barry Winchell Courage Award, Human Rights Campaign Community Equality Award and she is a Sergeant Audie Murphy Club member.
Richard Armstrong, Congressional Liasion Representative
Department of Veterans Affairs
Richard E. Armstrong, Jr. holds a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Service and International Affairs with a minor in English from the Pennsylvania State University. He took one year of graduate classes in Public Policy at Georgetown University before transferring to Johns Hopkins University to obtain a Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Science Studies.
He began federal service with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) under the Outstanding Scholars Program as a Veterans Benefits Counselor and Claims Examiner at the Washington, DC Regional Office in 1993. He then worked with that office’s Foreign Unit where he assisted veterans and their families living overseas through communication with U.S. consulates and embassies. He was hired as a Congressional Liaison Representative by the VA Congressional Liaison Service in 2000. In July 2007, he became the Senior Congressional Liaison Representative with that office. Since then, he has continued to serve in that capacity handling casework and policy matters involving veterans’ health care, disability claims, memorial affairs and survivor benefit issues. He was the first recipient of the ICARE award in the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs. This honor is given quarterly to those who exhibit the values of Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence.
Rick has earned the reputation of being Congress’s VA liasion that goes the extra mile to make sure veteran constituents are taken care of.
Government: Administration Officials & Political Appointees
Those that are called to serve carry the responsibility and honor of developing and implementing the President’s agenda. This is no easy task, and the following individuals were integral in making tough decisions, all with the aim of bringing the right solutions and policies to benefit the veteran and military community. The Department of Veterans Affairs were hit with a number of scandals this year, and these individuals took charge of their positions, doing everything possible to make right some of the most immediate problems and prominent challenges for veterans and service members.
Secretary Robert McDonald
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
When the Phoenix scandal led to Shinseki’s resignation in May 2014, an effective replacement was necessary. Many in the veteran world wondered who would fill the tough shoes of the highly respected Shinseki. The President’s selection, who was the Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G), has intrigued many. The implication has been that McDonald, a successful businessman, will be able to bring about positive customer-oriented change to VA.
Secretary McDonald is a graduate of the 1975 class from the United States Military Academy. He received his MBA from the University of Utah.
Learn more about the VA here and about MBA’s from Utah here!
First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden
The First and Second Ladies understand that behind every service member there is a supportive spouse and family that is making sacrifices and serving our country. To support them, the dynamic duo launched an effort entitled Joining Forces: Taking Action to Serve America’s Military Families. In President Obama’s State of the Union he suggested Joining Forces has resulted in 700,000 jobs for veterans and their spouses.
A strong and robust military depends on its people, and its people depend on their families. Ensuring the strength of our military families fortifies the morale of our soldiers, and strengthens their ability to protect and defend our nation.
Acting Secretary Patrick Murphy
United States Army
Patrick J. Murphy was appointed Acting Secretary of the Army by President Obama on Jan. 7, 2016. As Secretary of the Army, he has statutory responsibility for all matters relating to the United States Army: to include 1.4 million Soldiers and Department of the Army Civilians, reserve affairs, installations, environmental issues, weapons systems and equipment acquisition, communication, and financial management.
As the 32nd Under Secretary of the Army and Chief Management Office, he serves as the Army’s principal adviser on matters related to the management and operation of the Army, including development and integration of the Army Program and Budget. As the Chief Management Officer (CMO) of the Army, he advises the Secretary on the effective and efficient organization of the Army’s business operations and initiatives for the business transformation of the Army including a budget of approximately $144 billion, which would rank the Army as a Fortune 10 company.
Prior to his confirmation, Mr. Murphy was a litigation partner at the law firm of Fox Rothschild, where he served as an outside general counsel for small businesses, including several that were veteran-owned.
(USMC) Major General Charles F. “Charlie” Bolden, Jr., (Ret.) Administrator
USMC Maj. Gen. Charles F. “Charlie” Bolden, Jr., (Ret.) was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the 12th Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He began his duties as head of the agency on July 17, 2009. As Administrator, Bolden leads a nationwide NASA team to advance the missions and goals of the U.S. space program.
At NASA, Bolden has overseen the safe transition from 30 years of space shuttle missions to a new era of exploration focused on full utilization of the International Space Station and space and aeronautics technology development. He has led the agency in developing a Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft that will carry astronauts to deep space destinations, such as an asteroid and Mars. He also established a new Space Technology Mission Directorate to develop cutting-edge technologies for the missions of tomorrow.
Bolden’s 34-year career with the Marine Corps also included 14 years as a member of NASA’s Astronaut Office. After joining the office in 1980, he traveled to orbit four times aboard the space shuttle between 1986 and 1994, commanding two of the missions and piloting two others. His flights included deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope and the first joint U.S.-Russian shuttle mission, which featured a cosmonaut as a member of his crew.
Mark Lippert, US Ambassador to the Republic of Korea
US Department of State
Mark W. Lippert is the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Korea. He previously held senior positions in the Department of Defense from May 2012 until September 2014. This included Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, where he was the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense on all international security strategy and policy issues related to the nations and international organizations of Asia and the Pacific.
Prior to being confirmed in April 2012, he completed a two-year mobilization on active duty in the United States Navy. During that time, which included a deployment to Afghanistan, he served as an Intelligence Officer for the Naval Special Warfare Development Group in Virginia Beach, Virginia from 2009 to 2011.
Ambassador Lippert served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff for the National Security Council in 2009. In 2008, he served as Deputy Director for Foreign Policy on the Obama-Biden Transition Team, and Senior Foreign Policy Advisor on the Obama for America campaign.
Previously, he worked as the Foreign Policy Advisor for then-Senator Obama from 2005 to 2008, where he managed the Senator’s work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
From 2007 to 2008, he took a leave of absence from this position to deploy on active duty as an Intelligence Officer with Seal Team One in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.