Supporting the military and our veterans has been at the heart of the mission at the Department of the Interior since its inception.
Whether that has meant preserving national battlefields, like the ones at Gettysburg, Antietam, and Little Bighorn, or leasing the Ahwahnee Hotel at Yosemite National Park to the Navy as a rehabilitation hospital during World War II, the Department has always been on the frontlines working with and supporting our military and veteran communities and their families.
Approximately 20 percent of our staff at the Department are veterans, including Secretary Zinke, who spent 23 years as a U.S. Navy SEAL. Commander Zinke spent more than two decades taking care of troops on the battlefield and cares deeply about the men and women serving our military, our veterans, and their families, as well as the issues they face. The Secretary has asked me as to take a look at how our Department supports these communities and to seek new initiatives where appropriate.
As part of this effort, the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs has been detailed a highly qualified Marine veteran, Andrew D. Goodrich, to serve as our Military Support Liaison and Veteran Affairs Coordinator. In this new role, Andrew, and his service dog Benjamin, will be reaching out across the Department to 1) learn and report back on current programs, 2) forge strategic partnerships both internally and externally with other Federal agencies, 3) educate veteran organizations about opportunities on public lands, and 4) identify opportunities for personal and career growth among veterans. As required, Andrew will also support Department joint projects and coordination efforts with the Department of Defense.
Andrew and thousands of veterans are proof that just because a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, or Coastguardsman takes off their uniform, does not mean they are done serving their country.
Thousands of veterans work at the Department. Their unwavering commitment to service is one of our Department’s greatest assets. Andrew’s story is one in a long line of stories about veterans who have returned home, gone to work for the Department, and made life better for the American people. We will continue to empower more veterans like Andrew to achieve their dreams here.