America Supports You: Businessman Helps Military Supporters Meet
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2006 A senior member of New York City's business community who's also a strong advocate of the U.S. military helped arrange a recent summit bringing together groups that support America's troops.
Joyce Rumsfeld, wife of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, talks with John O'Connor, chief executive officer at the J.H. Whitney investment firm, at the Council on Foreign Relations building in New York City Feb. 17. O'Connor endorses America Supports You and facilitated a summit meeting of groups that support the military. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
The "America Supports You" summit meeting was held in New York City Feb. 17. America Supports You is a DoD program that highlights the efforts of citizens and corporations that work to support U.S. forces and their families.
John O'Connor, chief executive officer of J.H. Whitney Investment Management, told American Forces Press Service that day that he became energized to support America's servicemen and women after he participated in a Joint Civilian Orientation Conference trip in 2005. That trip, he said, included a tour of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan at its San Diego berth, as well as visits to military bases. The Defense Department's JCOC program promotes greater understanding of the U.S. military among America's civilian business, academic and community leaders.
"I've tried to lend assistance to the cause since becoming aware of it through JCOC," O'Connor said during an interview outside the Council on Foreign Relations building, in New York City.
O'Connor then went inside to meet with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld; Rumsfeld's wife, Joyce; and a group of grassroots military-support groups affiliated with the America Supports You program. The defense secretary was in town to deliver a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations. Mrs. Rumsfeld would later visit with the grassroots groups during a meeting held at the America's Society building, located across the street.
O'Connor said he and his wife, Anastasie, were glad to help arrange the meeting place for the America Supports You group. It's important that Americans understand and support their military, he said, especially when many U.S. servicemembers are deployed overseas in the fight against global terrorism.
O'Connor called the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States "a galvanizing day."
"I lost some great, good friends," the 51-year-old businessman said.
Today, the U.S. armed forces are fighting terrorists worldwide, yet "smaller and smaller percentages of the population, in general, are serving in the military," O'Connor said. Consequently, he said, some Americans don't understand how their all-volunteer military operates.
"Bridging the gap between society at large and the activities of the military is quite critical in our day and age," O'Connor said.
DoD's America Supports You program helps create a bridge of understanding between civilians and U.S. servicemembers and provide support to those who are defending America and its way of life, O'Connor said. "Those who put themselves in harm's way and their families are the ones who deserve the most support," he said.