The media plays an integral part in our political process. In 2018, the following individuals led the way on reporting on VA and the veteran experience. Through their stories, the media has held public and government officials accountable for their actions and promises. The media has also enlightened the public on veterans’ issues and increased their understanding of the sacrifices made by those that chose to serve.

Mike McNamara, All Marine Radio

Mac (middle) with his two sons.

Mike McNamara (Mac) is a retired Marine officer, thrice deployed, who has started a radio show focused on post-combat mental health. In addition to broadcasting to his audience about an issue of critical importance, Mac has taken this show and message on the road and recently spoke to 9,000 Marines at Camp Lejeune on the subject of Posttraumatic Winning in partnership with Josh Goldberg at the Boulder Crest Institute of Posttraumatic Growth. Mac’s commitment to his community is enduring, profound, and meaningful. His insight, curiosity, and platform have established Mac as a leader in the field of “blue collar mental health” with a message that truly speaks to the troops and veterans.


Kate Germano, Cassandra-Helenus Partners, LLC

Called ‘too tough for the Marine Corps’, Kate made headlines when she took a principled stand and confronted systemic problems of gender bias and lowered expectations for women in the Marine Corps. A 20-year career Marine and combat veteran, she fought back and became a national figure by speaking out against discrimination and advocating for higher expectations and standards for women in the military. She is a published author (see Fight Like A Girl: the truth behind how female Marines are trained), speaker, and advocate. Her writing has been published in national media outlets to include the New York Times, Washington Post, San Diego Union Tribune, Time Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, and more. She has also been featured on NPR, CSPAN, and PBS Newshour. While on active duty (1996-2016) she built a successful career in talent management, recruiting, a staff officer with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in combat in Iraq (2004-05), and as the Marine aide to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. Her website is


John Kirby, CNN

Rear Admiral John Kirby, USN (ret), is a CNN military and diplomatic analyst and most recently served as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. Kirby appears regularly on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer and across all of CNN’s programming providing analysis on issues related to the U.S. military, defense, foreign affairs, and diplomacy.

Prior to joining CNN, Kirby had a 29-year career with the United States Navy, joining after college and eventually retiring as Rear Admiral in 2015. In 2011, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta appointed Kirby to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Media Operations. Two years later, after serving as the U.S. Navy’s Chief of Information, Kirby was chosen as Pentagon Press Secretary and became the first uniformed officer to hold the position. Following his military career, Kirby returned to government to serve as the Spokesperson for the U.S. State Department. Soon after, he was appointed by then-President Obama to take on the role of Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Public Affairs, a title he held until the end of the Obama administration.

Kirby is from St. Petersburg, Florida, and holds a B.A. in History from the University of South Florida, as well as an M.S. in International Relations from Troy State University and an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.


Bob Woodward, The Washington Post

Bob Woodward is an associate editor of The Washington Post, where he has worked since 1971. He has shared in two Pulitzer Prizes, first in 1973 for the coverage of the Watergate scandal with Carl Bernstein, and second in 2003 as the lead reporter for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

He has authored or coauthored 19 books, all of which have been national non-fiction bestsellers. Thirteen of those have been #1 national bestsellers. He has written books on nine of the most recent presidents, from Nixon to Trump. Fear: Trump in the White House, which sold more than 1.1 million copies in its first week in the United States and broke the 94-year first-week sales record of its publisher Simon & Schuster, is the most detailed and penetrating portrait of a sitting president in the first years of an administration.

He enrolled in Yale University in 1961 with an NROTC scholarship and studied history and English literature. He received his B.A. degree in 1965 and served a five-year tour of duty in the U.S. Navy.


Paul Szoldra, Task&Purpose and The Duffel Blog

Paul Szoldra is the founder and editor-in-chief of Duffel Blog. He is a former US Marine Corps infantryman, serving until 2010. After leaving the Marine Corps, Paul made writing his full-time career, juggling his role as editor-in-chief of Duffel Blog with more serious journalistic writing pursuits, to include stints with Business Insider and We Are The Mighty.

His military deployments include a six-month rotation to Okinawa, Japan, and ship service while attached to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit with 81s Platoon, Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/3 in 2003. He deployed to eastern Afghanistan with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment for seven months from 2004 to 2005.

He lives in Orange County, California. He has contributed to Inc. Com, Business Insider, and is also an Editor-in-Chief for Task&Purpose, a military blog, as of November 2018.


Gerry Byrne, Penske Media Core (PMC)

Gerry Byrne is PMC’s Vice Chairman, guiding business initiatives across PMC’s entire portfolio of media brands, which includes Deadline Hollywood, Hollywood Life, MovieLine, TVLine and

A staunch believer in “participation,” Gerry is on the boards of numerous not-for-profits including Fisher House, The Intrepid Museum, The Bob Woodruff Foundation, The Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research, The Reisenbach Foundation (Chairman), The Armory Foundation, The Independent Feature Project and John Jay College. Gerry’s awards include the “Salah M. Hassanein Humanitarian Award,” New York’s Elaine Kaufman Cultural Center’s Distinguished Service Award and the NYPD Marine Corps Association “Semper Fi” Award for his work in the community. In June 2009, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented Gerry with the “Made in New York” Award for his support of the Gotham’s entertainment and media industries. And in November 2017, General Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps, presented Gerry the Department of the Navy’s Meritorious Public Service Award.

A graduate of Fordham College, Gerry served as a Marine Officer in Vietnam in 1968/69 and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal with Combat V.