These individuals are at the helm of forming the policy and legislation for our Nation. Working on Capitol Hill gives a great deal of responsibility and power needed to address many of the problems and challenges that veterans, and our nation, face on a day-to-day basis. The influence that these few have in bringing legitimate change to the veteran community is unparalleled, and their ability to understand the issues and facilitate necessary debate and discussion is recognized and appreciated.
Col. John Kruse (Ret.), Democratic Staff Director
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee
Kruse, very well known as one of the most beautiful people on Capitol Hill, has had a long and interesting career that has includes a long and tenured commitment to the public good in the Marine Corps, the U.S. House of Representatives, the Department of Veterans Affairs and currently as the lead Veterans Affairs Democratic staffer in the United States Senate.
Kruse has served in the Gulf War, participated in operations in South America, and advised then-Vice President Dick Cheney during the Iraq war.
Curt Cashour, Communications Director
House Veterans Affairs Committee
House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Communications Director Curt Cashour has produced media and communication strategy for a diverse group of interests, from candidates for president, U.S. House and Senate, to lawmakers, battlefield generals and top industry groups.
At the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, he has led communication efforts that helped expose the VA Scandal, which resulted in the confirmation of a new Department of Veterans Affairs secretary and passage of one of the most significant pieces of VA reform legislation in history, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act.
Cashour has also served as deputy communications director for Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential campaign, Virginia communications director for Gov. Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid and managing director for the issue-advocacy and political media firm Revolution Agency. He is an Army veteran who spent 27 months deployed to the Middle East, most recently as speechwriter and photojournalist for the commander of Multi-National Corps – Iraq. He is from Huber Heights, Ohio, and lives in Alexandria, Va.
Army Col. Don Phillips (Ret.), Democratic Staff Director
House Veterans Affairs Committee
Phillips is a 29 year Army veteran with a leadership background in military planning, operations and force management. While in the Army, Colonel Phillips served as a Battalion Commander, a Brigade Commander, a Senior Operations Officer, and senior military assistant and advisor to two Under Secretaries of Defense. Phillips also served as a Congressional Liaison Officer in the U.S. House.
Prior to his appointment to HVAC, Don served as the Senior Human Capital Practice Leader at Dougherty & Associates, where he supervised and managed project teams to support the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security and Commerce and the Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System.
Jabari White, National Security Advisor
The Office of Senator Joni Ernst
Prior to beginning his career of SecondService, Jabari was a combat-decorated, former Army officer with five years of service. As a military intelligence officer, he managed the operations section of an All-Source Intelligence Battalion supporting worldwide intelligence activities and Special Agent in Charge for counterintelligence-responsible for a 31,000 square mile area of eastern Afghanistan in support of U.S. military, NATO, and various U.S. government entities.
His service also includes Reconnaissance Platoon Leader in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), United States Army. Jabari planned and executed dismounted and mounted reconnaissance missions against insurgent groups; mentored and assisted the Iraqi Government and Iraqi Security Forces within Eastern Diyala Province, Iraq; negotiated and coordinated with Iraqi government officials and local leaders for increased tribal and ethnic cooperation for public works projects, political reconciliation, and security improvement.
Jabari is a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal. Find him on LinkedIn here!
Tom Bowman, Republican Staff Director
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee
On Jan. 8, 2015, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, named retired Marine Corps Colonel Thomas G. Bowman as his staff director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. A retired Marine Corps Colonel, Bowman also spent almost a decade working in the Department of Veterans Affairs, including as chief of staff under two former VA Secretaries.
Bowman joined the Senate VA Committee in 2014 as senior policy advisory under the ranking Republican in the last Congress, Senator Richard Burr. Bowman previously worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs for almost 10 years, including as chief of staff to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretaries Jim Nicholson and James Peake. Bowman’s VA Department role also included service to veterans in Isakson’s home state of Georgia when Bowman worked as a senior advisor to the director of the Veterans Affairs’ Sunshine Healthcare Network, which includes southeastern Georgia, Florida and the Caribbean.
Bowman’s only break in service from the VA during the 10-year period from 2002 through his retirement in 2012 came when he served for one year as State Court administrator for the Rhode Island Judiciary and as chief of staff to the chief justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court in 2003-04.
Ryan Pettit, Senior Advisor for National Security
The Office of Senator Patty Murray
Ryan leads Senator Patty Murray’s national security team and serves as the Senator’s senior policy advisor for defense, foreign relations, and veterans issues for both her personal office and her Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee staff.
As a Senate staffer since June 2008, Ryan has previously served as Analyst for Defense and Veterans’ Affairs for the Senate Budget Committee, and as Veterans and Defense Policy Advisor with the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
Ryan also served nearly ten years in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and completed three combat tours as part of the 4th Civil Affairs Group, based in Washington, DC. Ryan deployed to Ramadi, Iraq from late 2004 through early 2005, and Habbaniyah, Iraq from late 2006 through early 2007. He most recently completed a tour in 2009 leading a team of civil affairs Marines in the Garmsir district in southern Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Among his military honors, Ryan has twice been awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, as well as the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, three awards and with combat distinguishing ‘V’ device.