JD Kennedy - Graduate

May 11, 2011
JD Kennedy and Congressman Buck McKeon
JD Kennedy - Graduate

As J.D. Kennedy prepared for Marine Corps boot camp, the world shifted.

When the Indiana native had enlisted right out of high school, he was looking to escape the "bunch of corn fields" and lack of opportunity at home. "I wanted to leave town."

But the events of Sept. 11, 2001 put a very different tint on Kennedy's quest for adventure. "It looks like the next four years are going to be interesting," he recalls thinking. Kennedy was not about to turn back.

As a Marine, Kennedy trained in California and Missouri and was eventually stationed in Camp Lejeune, NC. His specialty was driving fuel and supply trucks. He volunteered to drive supply trucks in Kuwait when the U.S. military was unloading ships in preparation for the possible invasion of Iraq. Shuttling among bases, Kennedy delivered ammunition, fuel, water and food. The rest of his unit – the 2nd Transportation Support Battalion - joined him in Kuwait two months later and they moved on to Iraq together.

Not long after completing his first tour, Kennedy volunteered again. This time, he would run resupply convoys in Iraq only. Because the convoys were ambushed frequently, roadside repairs were limited to ten minutes for diagnosis and repair. Despite the constant threat, everyone in Kennedy's platoon returned home healthy.

After returning stateside in 2005, Kennedy moved in with friends in North Hollywood. He found a job hauling band gear, and enrolled in online business management courses. Kennedy's new lifestyle was cut short in 2007 when he was recalled to the Marine Corps for a third deployment to Iraq.

But Kennedy harbors no regrets. When he returned, he earned a fellowship in the U.S. House of Representatives’ Wounded Warrior Program, where he worked in the California District office of Rep. Buck McKeon. Kennedy graduated from the program this past spring and was appointed to a full time position.

During his fellowship with the program, Kennedy explored his interest in law and politics while assisting veterans with VA benefits and other issues. Now a District Representative, he focuses on veteran job placement and grant writing. But perhaps the most rewarding aspect of Kennedy’s job is helping homeless vets get off the street. “Since I’ve transferred on, we’ve got three guys into veterans’ homes,” he says. “I didn’t ever think I’d be part of something like that.”

Kennedy says that although he loves working as a Congressional staffer, he doesn’t think he’ll go into politics. His current position gives him exactly the kind of career fulfillment he wants at the moment. “This isn’t just a pay check,” he says. “It’s more than just a job.”