As Veterans Day approaches, Secretary of State John F. Kerry Oct. 31 announced a new public-private partnership intended to help veterans find international employment opportunities in the private and public sectors.
“The Veterans Innovation Partnership, VIP as we are calling it, is not about just what the State Department can do for veterans, it’s really based on the notion that veterans can do a lot for the State Department and that we would be foolish not to try to reach out and harness the talent that exists,” Kerry told an audience at the State Department.
Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, said he’s always believed that military experience helps validate ways in which those with such experience can project America’s force and values abroad.
“Through the VIP we hope to bring together U.S. government agencies and private-sector leaders to seek out those who have served America and who are interested in international issues,” Kerry said.
The program will provide veterans with fellowship opportunities at the State Department and other partners in the effort, including USAID, the Overseas Private Investment Corp., and the Millennium Challenge Corp.
Through VIP, Kerry said, veterans get help finding international employment opportunities in the private and public sectors.
“We need more people like Corneal Hunter, who served with the Army in Operation Desert Storm and in Kosovo and who now brings his understanding of budgeting and management as a budget analyst in the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Service,” the secretary said.
Kerry also mentioned Phil Schlatter, executive director of the Bureau of the Comptroller and Global Financial Services, whose 10-year career at the State Department was preceded by 22 years of military service that gave him experience at command levels and staff levels.
And Joan St. Marie, whose Air Force experience in disaster preparedness, shelter operations and emergency management prepared her for her current role in the department’s Bureau of African Affairs.
“I am absolutely convinced of the enormous talent and capacity that veterans can bring to this department to augment what we try to do on a global basis,” Kerry said, “and do so with a unique credibility, a unique ability to validate both the values and the interest that we are trying to represent.”
The secretary expressed gratitude for partners who have signed up to work with the VIP program, including the University of Massachusetts in Boston and iRobot, a Bedford, Mass., robot design and manufacturing company founded in 1990 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology roboticists to make practical robots.
Kerry welcomed others from the private sector and civil society who wish to contribute to the VIP initiative.
“The bottom line is pretty simple,” he said. “I believe that those who’ve worn the uniform and gone through the training and the experience of leadership and partnership in so many different ways … within our armed services all have shown that they know how to serve in one capacity and through that capacity have developed a capacity to be able to serve yet again on another front.”
Kerry said he wants the State Department, USAID and the other VIP partners to welcome every veteran who is interested in the program.
“More than that,” he added, “we want to find them, we want to seek them out, and we want to put them back into service for their country, knowing that will make our country stronger and it will make our departments that much more effective.”