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Peace and Possibilities

Feb 5, 2020

If you really want to feel inspired to be more grateful, listen to this week's podcast. Kevin Schmiegel, CEO of Operation Gratitude, shares stories about his military career, lessons he's learned, and the words that stuck with him throughout his lifelong journey. He gets to see gratitude every day, inside Operation Gratitude.

Retired  Marine  Lieutenant  Colonel  Kevin  Schmiegel  is  the  CEO  of   Operation  Gratitude,  whose  mission  is  to  forge  strong  bonds   between  Americans  and  their  Military  and  First  Responder  Heroes   through  volunteer  service  projects,  acts  of  gratitude,  and   meaningful  engagements  in  communities  nationwide.  Since  2003,   Operation  Gratitude  has  mobilized  millions  of  volunteers   nationwide  and  delivered  more  than  2.4  million  Care  Packages  to   deployed  Service  Members,  to  their  children  left  behind,  and  to   First  Responders,  New  Recruit  Graduates,  Veterans,  Wounded   Heroes,  and  their  Caregivers.  Schmiegel’s  role  is  to  oversee   strategic  planning  and  build  national  partnerships  to  further   Operation  Gratitude’s  reach  as  a  preeminent  military  support   organization  while  expanding  hands-­on  volunteerism  to  help  bridge   the  civilian-­service  divide  in  communities  across  America.       Prior  to  Operation  Gratitude,  Lieutenant  Colonel  Schmiegel  founded  Hiring  Our  Heroes  –  a   nationwide  grassroots  campaign  run  through  the  US  Chamber  of  Commerce  Foundation  to  help   veterans  and  military  spouses  find  meaningful  employment  in  hundreds  of  cities  across   America.  Since  its  inception,  Hiring  Our  Heroes  has  held  more  than  1,000  job  fairs  in  all  50   states,  the  District  of  Columbia,  and  on  military  installations  overseas.  To  date,  more  than   500,000  of  our  nation’s  heroes  have  been  hired  as  a  result  of  the  program.  He  went  on  to  serve   as  the  first-­ever  President  of  Thanks  USA,  expanding  the  scope  of  its  mission  from  providing   post-­secondary,  need-­based  scholarships  to  military  spouses  and  children  to  include  Pathways   for  Patriots,  an  innovative  program  to  provide  meaningful  employment  for  the  scholars  upon   graduation.       LtCol  Schmiegel  is  a  Class  of  1989  graduate  of  the  College  of  the  Holy  Cross  in  Worcester,   Massachusetts.  He  was  commissioned  a  second  lieutenant  in  the  United  States  Marine  Corps   and  retired  at  the  rank  of  lieutenant  colonel  after  20  years  on  active  duty.  In  addition  to  an  early   combat  tour  to  Kuwait  for  Operation  Desert  Shield/Desert  Storm,  Schmiegel  served  as  the   principal  adviser  to  the  NATO  commander  from  2003-­2006,  deploying  to  over  50  countries  in   Europe,  Africa,  and  the  Middle  East.  Schmiegel  also  wrote  the  strategic  plans  for  NATO’s   training  mission  in  Iraq,  its  increased  presence  in  Afghanistan,  and  disaster  relief  operations  for   Hurricane  Katrina  and  the  earthquake  in  Pakistan.  In  2008,  Schmiegel  served  as  the  military   assistant  to  the  special  envoy  for  Middle  East  Regional  Security  and  deployed  to  Tel  Aviv  and   Jerusalem,  where  he  worked  with  Israeli  and  Palestinian  authorities  on  the  peace  process.        

Kevin  lives  in  Arlington  Virginia  with  his  wife  Laura.  When  he  is  not  working,  he  focuses  all  of  his   time  and  energy  on  their  five  children  and  two  dogs.