*Lt. Gen. James Peake - U.S. Army, retired. Peake served as the Army Surgeon General for four years and as the sixth U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs from December 2007-January 2009. He is a 1966 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as well as a veteran of the Vietnam conflict, receiving a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with “V” device and Purple Heart. He is a graduate of Cornell Medical School and is the executive vice president and chief operating officer for Project Hope.
*Chet Edwards - Representative from Central Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991-2010. While in Congress, Edwards was a champion for issues impacting service members, veterans and their families. His dedication to improve services and the welfare of our nation’s veterans is notable by his 2009 legislation which provides full college scholarships for all military children who have lost a parent in service to our nation since Sept. 11, 2001.
Capt. Thomas Kelley - U.S. Navy, retired. Kelley is a Medal of Honor recipient for gallantry in Vietnam in June 1969. Upon retirement from 30 years of active service, he worked as a Department of Defense civilian employee and then was appointed Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services. He was selected by the governor to serve as the Secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services and retired from public service in January 2011.
Col. Debra Lopez Fix - U.S. Army, retired. A 1981 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, Fix was the first Hispanic woman to graduate from West Point. A human resources officer, her 30-year career included two tours with the 101st Airborne Division where she was the division’s G1, or personnel officer. She commanded two battalions in her career, one in Alaska and the other at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. A 9/11 survivor of the Pentagon attack, she received a Purple Heart and her duties took her to Iraq, Kuwait and Germany to set Army-wide personnel policies in support of the war. A former inspector general officer at Headquarters, Department of the Army, she is married to retired Col. Bob Fix, an infantry combat veteran. Their two sons are in the U.S. Army.
Sgt. Maj. Ron Fetherson - U.S. Marine Corps, retired. Fetherson attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, and graduated from recruit training in July 1974. During his 30 years of active duty service he served two tours as a drill instructor and one tour as a battalion sergeant major in at Parris Island, South Carolina. He deployed to the Persian Gulf region in direct support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He served over one third of his 30 years as a sergeant major in six different commands; from the battalion and squadron level up to commanding general level. Upon his retirement, Fetherson is currently employed as a U.S. Marine Corps civilian employee. He is married to retired Marine Sgt. Maj. Parisa Fetherson. They have two daughters, one of whom is a Marine.
Col. Gene E. Castagnetti - U.S. Marine Corps, retired. Castagnetti served as the Department of Veterans Affairs’ director of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, from February 1990-September 2013. He is the recipient of the Civilian Medal from U.S. Pacific Command for outstanding outreach to active duty members and veterans of the nation. He was selected as the VA National Cemetery Employee of the Year by National Disabled Veterans Association for his contributions to disabled veterans and expertise in national cemetery operations. He was an infantry officer from October 1961-July 1989 and served two combat tours in Vietnam.
Col. Robert T. Hess - U.S. Army, retired. Hess is the Gold Star Father of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Robert J. Hess, who was killed in action, April 23, 2013, in Afghanistan. Hess was commissioned in 1982 as a field artillery officer. In 1983, he graduated from flight school and transferred to aviation branch. During his career, he served in various positions of increasing leadership responsibilities, including command of 4th Battalion, 159th Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, and as senior Army faculty advisor after attending the U.S. Marine Corps War College. He subsequently deployed to Iraq as the director of plans and policy, Multi-National Corps-Iraq. Subsequently, he was assigned as commander, U.S. Army Aeronautical Services Agency. He retired from the Army in 2011 and worked for MCR LLC as the director of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Support Operations for seven years. Hess is currently the deputy commander for the U.S. Army Aeronautical Services Agency and is stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
Command Sgt. Maj. Mark L. Farley - U.S. Army, retired. Farley retired from the Army with 32 years of active duty service. During his career he served in numerous positions of increasing leadership responsibilities including first sergeant course instructor, chief instructor, and command sergeant major. While assigned to U.S. Army Pacific as command sergeant major, he played a key role in ensuring U.S. Army Pacific units remained mission ready to support any contingency operation, with over 7,000 Soldiers deploying in support of the Global War on Terror. Farley’s career culminated as the command senior enlisted advisor for U.S. European Command. He holds a Bachelor Degree (Summa Cum Laude) in Criminal Justice Administration: Law Enforcement from Park College, and a Master Degree in Management and Leadership from Webster University. Farley currently serves as the civilian deputy assistant commandant for the U.S. Army Military Police School.
Master Sgt. Rose Duval - U.S. Air Force, retired. Duval is the Gold Star Mother of Air Force Tech Sgt. Scott E. Duffman, who was killed in action, Feb. 18, 2007 in Afghanistan. Duval spent 20 years in the U.S. Air Force medical career field and as a professional military education instructor. In 1990 she retired as a master sergeant as the superintendent of the Orthopedic Surgical Clinic at Kirtland Air Force Base. In 1991, she was recalled to serve in support of Operation Desert Storm. After this assignment, she returned to retired status and held positions with the Department of Energy Office of Emergency Operations and the Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence. She has also completed a detail to the executive office of the President, National Security Staff Resilience Directorate. She is currently enjoying retirement and her grandchildren.
Ryan Manion Borek - Borek has dedicated her life to supporting our nation’s military, veterans, and families of fallen heroes. She is inspired by her brother Marine 1st Lt. Travis Manion who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq in 2007, while drawing fire away from his wounded comrades. Ryan has served as the President of Travis Manion Foundation since 2012, leading a national movement to empower veterans and families of fallen heroes to develop character in future generations. As a highly regarded advocate for the military community, Ryan has been invited to address national audiences on numerous occasions. In 2015, Ryan was selected to receive the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteer Service. In 2016 Ryan took an official appointment to serve on the Remember and Explore Subcommittee and the Honor Subcommittee for the Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery. Ryan dedicates her work to all the heroes who have sacrificed for our country, but in particular to her brother and her late mother Janet, the founder of the Travis Manion Foundation.
* indicates Committee Chairperson