Government: Administration Officials & Political Appointees

Those who 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. 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.

Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs

The Honorable Robert Wilkie has over 20 years of federal service at the national and international levels. Mr. Wilkie is the tenth Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Before this, however, Mr. Wilkie served as Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and as a colonel in the United States Air Force Reserve assigned to the Office of the Chief of Staff. Before that, he served in the United States Navy Reserve. He also served as Assistant Secretary of Defense from 2005–2009, and he was the youngest senior leader in the Department. Mr. Wilkie was also Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and a senior director of the National Security Council. He also has extensive experience in the United States Congress, including recent service as Senior Advisor to Senator Thom Tillis and as Counsel and Advisor on International Security Affairs to the Senate Majority Leader. Mr. Wilkie holds an Honors degree, a Juris Doctor, and two Masters degrees; and he has published articles in the Naval War College Review, Armed Forces Journal International, and elsewhere. He holds many personal decorations including the Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest non-career civilian award of the Department.


Pamela Powers, VA Chief of Staff

As Chief of Staff for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Pamela Powers is the senior advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary in the federal government’s second-largest Cabinet department, with a $218 billion budget and over 400,000 employees serving in VA medical centers, clinics, benefits offices, and national cemeteries across the country. Ms. Powers has nearly 30 years of service in the Air Force and the Department of Defense with experience in executive-level management, policy development, strategic planning and programming, legislation, operations, and communications. Before joining VA, Ms. Powers served as Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, responsible for day-to-day operations of Department of Defense Total Force Management. A graduate of the United States Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Psychology, Ms. Powers holds a Master of Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College and a Master of Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix. Ms. Powers retired from the Air Force as a colonel on March 1, 2018, and her awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.



Dr. Lynda Davis, Department of Veterans Affairs

Dr. Davis is nationally recognized for her leadership in the development and implementation of significant and sustainable programs that successfully support the full spectrum of quality of life support and services for military personnel, veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors. A former Army Signal Officer and the mother of a veteran, Dr. Davis serves as the Chief Veterans Experience Officer for VA.

Her previous government tenures included serving the Department of Defense as the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy (MCFP), and at the Department of the Navy as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Military Personnel Policy (DASN MPP). She also served as the designated lead for the joint Department of Defense (DoD) and VA response to the recommendations of Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors.

A former clinician at a VA Medical Center, Dr. Davis served on the faculty of the Departments of Psychiatry and Public Administration at the University of Southern California where she earned a Ph.D. and a Masters of Public Administration with a specialization in Human Services Administration; she also holds a Masters of Arts in Community Clinical Psychology.

Dr. Davis’ voluntary service includes service on the Boards of the Veterans Advisory Council on Rehabilitation (VACOR), the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Military Service (DACOWITS), the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Student Veterans of America, the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program, and the National Council for Adoption.


Former Secretary James Mattis, Department of Defense

James N. Mattis served as the 26th Secretary of Defense.  Secretary Mattis enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve at the age of 18.  After graduating from Central Washington University in 1971, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.  During his more than four decades in uniform, Secretary Mattis commanded Marines at all levels, from an infantry rifle platoon to a Marine Expeditionary Force.  He led an infantry battalion in Iraq in 1991, an expeditionary brigade in Afghanistan after the 9/11 terror attack in 2001, a Marine Division in the initial attack and subsequent stability operations in Iraq in 2003, and led all U.S. Marine Forces in the Middle East as Commander, I Marine Expeditionary Force and U.S. Marine Forces Central Command.  

During his non-combat assignments, Secretary Mattis served as Senior Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense; as Director, Marine Corps Manpower Plans & Policy; as Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command; and as Executive Secretary to the Secretary of Defense.  

As a joint force commander, Secretary Mattis commanded U.S. Joint Forces Command, NATO’s Supreme Allied Command for Transformation, and U.S. Central Command. At U.S. Central Command, he directed military operations of more than 200,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, Marines and allied forces across the Middle East.  Following his retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2013, Secretary Mattis served as the Davies Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, specializing in the study of leadership, national security, strategy, innovation, and the effective use of military force. In 2016, he co-edited the book, Warriors & Citizens: American Views of Our Military.


Secretary William Matz, American Battle Monuments Commission

Retired Maj. Gen. William M. Matz, Jr. is Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC). The ABMC is an agency of the executive branch of the federal government, honoring the service, achievements and sacrifices of the U.S. armed forces abroad since April 6, 1917. ABMC manages and maintains 26 cemeteries and 30 federal memorials, monuments, and commemorative markers throughout the world. The commission also maintains three memorials in the United States.

Secretary Matz coordinated the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings on June 6, 2019, commemorated at the Normandy American Cemetery and attended by President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, and thousands of members of the public, veterans, and their families. 

Appointed by President Donald J. Trump on January 8, 2018, Secretary Matz is a decorated Vietnam combat infantry veteran. Secretary Matz earned his B.A. in Political Science at Gettysburg College, an M.A. in International Relations from the University of San Diego, and is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College. Matz has been active in veterans’ and military affairs since leaving the Army and is a member of the Eisenhower Institute National Advisory Council. He is also on the Board of Directors of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association.