When President Clinton deployed the U.S. military to Haiti in September 1994 on a mission to quell violence and restore the democratically-elected president to office, Peter Henderson was serving in the U.S. Army XVIII Airborne and working at the nexus of disaster response and civil affairs. After USAID mobilized a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) for Haiti, Peter was charged with connecting the military with the DART so they could work together to meet the country's severe humanitarian needs. It was immediately clear that the skills Peter had learned in the military – organizing complex logistics, building relationships with communities around the world, keeping a cool head in a crisis – made him an incredibly effective humanitarian. So when Peter retired from military service two years later, he found the ideal next opportunity – becoming a Team Leader for Operations Support with USAID’s humanitarian assistance bureau. Peter has since served for 26 years at USAID in a variety of roles, most recently working on strengthening civil-military relations in our development and humanitarian work abroad.
Veterans like Peter play critical roles in all aspects of USAID’s work, and contribute invaluable perspectives and expertise thanks in part to the skills, leadership, ingenuity, and dedication they have acquired serving in the military.
Five years ago, we introduced the position of Mission Civilian-Military Coordinator (MC2), a role that is responsible for improving civil-military coordination as we advance development priorities together. Since the position was established, the number of MC2s has grown to 150, distributed at our Missions and Country Offices around the world. This is in addition to the dozens of advisers USAID has at the geographic combatant commands and U.S. Special Operations Command to advocate for development, humanitarian, and transition priorities.
From transporting more than 600,000 pounds of relief supplies and coordinating disaster experts in the wake of the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, to responding to severe outbreaks of dengue in Jamaica and Peru, nearly all of USAID’s humanitarian responses benefit from this coordination.
On Veterans Day, we honor veterans’ service to USAID – and also to the American people. Our veterans make enormous sacrifices – placing their lives in danger, separating from family and friends, and enduring the physical and mental toll of conflict – to keep us safe. All of USAID is grateful to our veterans for putting themselves on the line to protect democracy, advance stability, and save lives around the world.