Secretary Jessica L. Garfola Wright assumed the responsibilities of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness on January 1, 2013. Mrs. Wright was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 25, 2014. She was previously confirmed and served as the Assistant Secretary of Reserve Affairs.
Secretary Wright is the senior policy advisor to the Secretary of Defense on recruitment, career development, pay and benefits for 1.4 million active duty military personnel, 1.1 million Guard and Reserve personnel, 748,000 DoD civilians, and is responsible for overseeing the overall state of military readiness.
Mrs. Wright retired as a Major General in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. Her distinguished 35-year career of military service culminated with her final assignment as The Adjutant General of Pennsylvania and commander of the Pennsylvania National Guard. In this State of Pennsylvania Cabinet-level position, she was responsible for command, control and supervision of all Air and Army National Guard units allocated to the state of Pennsylvania, six state-owned veterans’ homes, and programs for Pennsylvania’s one million veterans. Prior to this assignment, she served as the deputy The Adjutant General for the Army.
Mrs. Wright began her military career as an enlistee in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 1975, after graduating from Alderson Broaddus College with a bachelor's degree in social work. She also has a master's degree in management from Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri.
She is an alumnus of the Women's Army Corps Officer Orientation/Officer Candidate School at Fort McClellan, Alabama. Upon graduation from the Officers Rotary Wing Aviator Course at Fort Rucker, Alabama, then Captain Wright became the first female Army aviator in the Army National Guard. Mrs. Wright is a graduate of the CH-47 Aviator Qualification Course, CH-54 Aviator Qualification Course; and a graduate of the Army War College Military Fellowship at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC.
Mrs. Wright commanded the 28th Aviation Brigade, 28th Infantry Division at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, from June 1997 to November 1998. She was the first female maneuver brigade commander in the Army.
Her awards and decorations include the Distinguished Public Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, and Senior Army Aviator badge. Other awards include Chapel of the Four Chaplains Gold Award, ATHENA Award, the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters Gold Medal Award, the Union League of Philadelphia’s Distinguished Soldier Award and Lincoln Award, the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania’s Veteran of the Year Award and the Founders Day Award from Lebanon Valley College.
Mrs. Wright is married to retired Lieutenant Colonel Charles Wright. They have one son, Mike, a First Lieutenant on active duty with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.