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A Year In Review of Secretary Bob McDonald’s Fellowship

The George W. Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative is honored to have had Bob McDonald, the eighth Secretary of Veterans Affairs, as the April and Jay Graham Fellow over the past year.

Article by Col. Matthew F. Amidon, USMCR January 31, 2022 //   4 minute read

The George W. Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative is honored to have had Bob McDonald, the eighth Secretary of Veterans Affairs, as the April and Jay Graham Fellow over the past year.

Throughout the year, Secretary McDonald aided our initiative by providing expert knowledge and firsthand experience to the core issues we aim to address around successful veteran transition to civilian life. He was a great asset to the policy team in evaluating current barriers to the transition process and used his own experience to create solutions to remove those obstacles in both the public and private sectors.

Secretary McDonald’s greatest impact during his time with the Bush Institute was his dedication and involvement in our Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program (VLP) – designed to inform, inspire, and position those who seek to serve our Nation’s veterans and their families to do so in a more impactful and enduring way.

Sec. Bob McDonald with the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program

Simply put, VLP brings together a diverse cohort of leaders, both civilian and veteran alike, who know that our Nation can always benefit from leveraging the immense talent of those who have worn the cloth and their families. In doing so, VLP specifically addresses the civilian-military divide by building a network of committed leaders who see past the noise to the opportunity.

As President Bush has said, “By supporting and enabling our Nation’s warriors in their new missions as civilians, we unleash the potential of a generation of resourceful, determined, and experienced leaders – for the good of our vets and our country.”

Secretary McDonald’s unique leadership path – from West Point and the 82nd Airborne to 33 years with Proctor and Gamble culminating as CEO and finally as Secretary of Veterans Affairs – provided him with experiences from both the public and private sectors that he was able to share with the VLP Scholars in a unique and compelling way.

His firsthand accounts were provided alongside a leadership framework of decision-making, strategic partnerships, vision and communication, and influence and persuasion. And his experiences added to those shared by luminaries including President and Mrs. Bush, General James Mattis, General Alfred Flowers, and astronaut Jonny Kim. All shared lessons learned, and snippets of wisdom.

As Secretary McDonald has said, “there is no skill more important than leadership.” Our Scholars are better positioned as leaders of integrity to meet the challenges of tomorrow because of him.

As he moves on to his next chapter as the head of the West Point endowment fund, we at the Bush Institute don’t say goodbye to Secretary McDonald, but rather fair winds and following seas to a leader of leaders.

On behalf of the Military Service Initiative, I want to thank Secretary McDonald for his generous commitment of time and experience.

Check out more work from Secretary McDonald over the past year as the April and Jay Graham Fellow: