Jesse Rice - Fellow

Aug 29, 2012
Jesse Rice
Jesse Rice - Fellow

Jesse Rice says he had big plans when he joined the Army in 2004. “I always wanted to go overseas, I always wanted to fight in the war,” he says, “and eventually I wanted to serve in the elite forces.” But that dream was cut short when Rice was wounded during combat in Iraq in April of 2007.

Reaching two of three goals might be enough for most people. But after a brief stint back in Iraq as a contracted security specialist, Rice was home in Tennessee going to school when he realized he still wanted to do more for his country. “I always wanted to move on to bigger and better things in the service,” he says. Now, he’s getting that chance as a fellow in the U.S. House of Representatives’ Wounded Warrior Program.

Through the program, Rice earned a position as the Veterans Caseworker in the office of Congressman Dan Benishek in Michigan’s First District, where he assists veteran constituents on benefits claims and attends local veterans’ events, some of which are high profile. “I just went to an event with the Michigan Speaker of the House,” he says.

Perhaps Rice’s biggest asset in his current role is his ability to empathize with the former servicemen and servicewomen he’s helping on a daily basis. “I know the pain of filing a VA claim and waiting,” he says. And although he’s not always able to speed the process up, Rice can be a steadfast advocate for his veterans. “I don’t like to see vets in a bad situation,” he says. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted this job.” 

Rice found the Wounded Warrior Program through a group on LinkedIn for wounded veterans, and he says he hopes to one day work in the intelligence community. “It’s a goal, but a future goal,” he says. Rice says his current position is helping him get some experience in the federal government sector, and he’s also working his way toward a bachelor’s degree in intelligence management.

Although he’s been through some tough times, particularly with his injury, Rice says one of the only things he regrets about his military service is that he didn’t get to finish what he started, and he counts his ability to keep a positive attitude among his greatest achievements.

Meanwhile, life away from the battlefield is bringing its own set of challenges. His toughest at the moment? “Writing an official letter,” he says laughing. “They didn’t exactly teach proper writing etiquette in the infantry.”