This program began to take shape in the summer of 2008 during discussions with the Future Leaders for America Foundation and the National Defense Committee. Future Leaders has, in the opinion of this foundation, one of the absolute finest internship programs in the nation, designed and structured to train America’s future leaders for a lifetime of service in national public policy. They have been in operation for well over a decade and have already graduated in excess of a hundred of America’s best & brightest college and university students, the vast majority of whom now work in national public policy programs and projects in Washington, DC. The National Defense Committee approached the Future Leaders Foundation regarding an internship/fellowship program that would focus on military veterans with the ultimate objective being to provide scholarships for internships for those with significant military experience that could be of high value on the Staffs of Members of Congress and the respective Congressional Committees having oversight on national defense, homeland security, intelligence, veterans, and related areas. Who better to provide current experience in military operations, military equipment, combat operations, military health care, veterans health care, and everything in-between than the young men and women who have just been through years of hands-on experience in each of these areas. The problem is that very VERY FEW military veterans have any Congressional Staff experience and almost all Congressional Staff employment opportunities seek candidates with prior Congressional Staff experience. So for almost all military veterans, “they can’t get there from here”. Thus this program makes GREAT sense because it funds the very best and brightest military veterans who have recent hands-on firsthand experience that is a HUGE value to the Congress as they seek to formulate programs and fund initiatives that are best served if they are advised by those who have already served in uniform, used the equipment, experienced the health care system, experienced the training they received, and thus know what works and what doesn’t, what needs to be fixed and what doesn’t, and thus, how to provide programs that work to all those who serve our nation in military uniformed service. And the logic of having a strategic partnership between the Future Leaders for America, who already have a multi-decade successful track record with federal internships in Washington, DC, the National Defense Foundation with their already existing programs and projects in national defense and homeland security and their in-depth knowledge of many of the problems that need to be fixed, and our own Admiral Carey Foundation which seeks to endow these kinds of efforts that provide long-term solutions for national public policy challenges that face our nation.
The first selectee for this program was Army CPT Bo Prosch, a graduate of Wake Forest University and their ROTC Program and a combat veteran of both Iraq AND Afghanistan. CPT Prosch was a motivated and focused and highly-experienced young man who had great interest in serving on Congressional Staff and bringing his knowledge and background to the Congress to help make their national defense and veterans program better, but he ran into roadblock after roadblock because he had no prior Congressional Staff experience. He applied to the National Defense Committee / Future Leaders for America Foundation Veterans Congressional Internship/Fellowship Program, was an outstanding candidate and was the unanimous selection of the Candidate Admissions Board, and his fellowship was funded by both Future Leaders Foundation and the Admiral Carey Foundation. He performed a 10 week internship/fellowship in the Fall of 2008 on the Staff of Senator John Ensign of Nevada, working direct for the Senator’s Military Legislative Assistant, performed superbly and learned everything he could learn, and during the last month of his internship began to apply for Congressional Staff positions that fit his qualifications, experience, and credentials AND his new status of having prior experience on Congressional Staff. He was successful in these efforts and today is the Military Legislative Assistant on the Staff of Senator Kit Bond of Missouri, where his tremendous military combat experience can be used in advising Senator Bond, who is a Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. We consider this new program a HUGELY SUCCESSFUL initiative and it is the intent of the Admiral Carey Foundation to endow this program in perpetuity. Programs like this make great sense for our nation, they make great use of our military veterans experience and qualifications, they serve a highly valid purpose on Congressional Staff where they bring tremendous background and firsthand experience to the Congress, and the net result is a win-win for these veterans, the U. S. Congress, the American Taxpayer, the U. S. Armed Forces, and America’s military veterans. In our estimation, this program is a bargain at almost any price.