Chuck Hagel served as the 24th Secretary of Defense from February 2013 to February 2015. During his tenure, he directed significant steps to modernize America’s partnerships and alliances, advance the rebalance in Asia-Pacific, bolster support for European allies, and enhance defense cooperation in the Middle East while overseeing the end of America’s combat mission in Afghanistan. In addition, he led major initiatives for service members and their families, including increasing resources for suicide prevention, combating sexual assault, and accounting for missing personnel. Further, Secretary Hagel improved partnerships with the Department of Veterans Affairs, to include health record interoperability, service treatment record transferability, and continuity of mental health services and support. Secretary Hagel launched the the Defense Innovation Initiative to better prepare the Pentagon for future threats, and enacted comprehensive reforms to the Nuclear Enterprise and Military Health system. He is the only Vietnam veteran and the first enlisted combat veteran to serve as the Secretary of Defense.
Hagel served two terms in the United States Senate (1997-2009) representing the state of Nebraska. Hagel was a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations; Banking; Housing and Urban Affairs; and Intelligence Committees. He Chaired the Foreign Relations International Economic Policy, Export and Trade Promotion Subcommittee; and the Banking Committee’s International Trade and Finance, and Securities Subcommittees. Hagel also served as the Chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and the Senate Climate Change Observer Group.
Previously, Secretary Hagel was a Distinguished Professor at Georgetown University, Co-Chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, Chairman of the Atlantic Council, Chairman of the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration Advisory Committee, and Co-Chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Corporate Council. He served as a member of the Secretary of Defense’s Policy Board, Secretary of Energy’s Blue Ribbon Commission on the Future of Nuclear Power, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Board of Directors and Systemic Risk Council; as a Senior Advisor to Gallup; and on the Advisory Boards of Corsair Capital, Deutsche Bank America, M.I.C. Industries, Bread for the World, Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, Center for the Study of the Presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission, George C. Marshall Foundation, Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Global Strategy Forum, Global Zero, Hamilton Project, Initiative for Global Development, Lung Cancer Alliance, International Center for the Study Of Radicalization and Political Violence, National Bureau of Asian Research’s Next Generation Leadership Board, Ploughshares Fund, U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, U.S. Institute of Peace Middle East Senior Working Group, U.S. Middle East Project, America Abroad Media, American Security Project, and The Washington Center.
Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Hagel was president of McCarthy & Company, an investment banking firm in Omaha, Nebraska. In the mid-1980’s, Hagel co-founded VANGUARD Cellular Systems, Inc., a publicly traded corporation. He was President and CEO of the World USO, Private Sector Council (PSC), and Chief Operating Officer of the 1990 Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations (G-7 Summit). Hagel also served as Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration under President Ronald Reagan and Deputy Commissioner General of the 1982 World’s Fair.
1968. America was divided. Flag-draped caskets came home by the thousands. Riots ravaged our cities. Assassins shot our political leaders. Black fought white, young fought old, fathers fought sons. And it was the year that two brothers from Nebraska went to war.
In Vietnam, Chuck and Tom Hagel served side by side in the same rifle platoon. Together they fought in the Mekong Delta, battled snipers in Saigon, chased the enemy through the jungle, and each saved the other’s life under fire. But when their one-year tour was over, these two brothers came home side-by-side but no longer in step–one supporting the war, the other hating it.
Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and his brother Tom epitomized the best, and withstood the worst, of the most tumultuous, shocking, and consequential year in the last half-century. Following the brothers’ paths from the prairie heartland through a war on the far side of the world and back to a divided America, Our Year of War tells the story of two brothers at war–a gritty, poignant, and resonant story of a family and a nation divided yet still united.