After 25 Years in the Marine Corps, This Veteran has Found a New Way to Serve

November 11, 2014 By Rob Joswiak

As we celebrate Veteran’s Day this year it’s important to acknowledge what many of our veterans and service members are doing overseas. I and millions of other veterans have had that honor of serving our nation in the military, and know the sense of duty that never really leaves when you take off the uniform. I served in the Air Force for more than four years surrounded by men and women who deployed multiple times to extremely dangerous parts of the world, compelled to return to service again and again not by mandate, but by a call from within.

As I talk to veterans around the country, I’m inspired by how they’ve chosen to continue their service. And on this Veterans Day, I want to share with you the story of JJ Yuhas.

A former Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel, JJ Yuhas spent 25 years serving his country in uniform. After leaving the Marine Corps, he worked for the State Department and now works for USAID in a different uniform.

For the past two years, he’s been working in Port Au Prince, Haiti where he’ll spend his Veteran’s day today. He recently told me by phone, “Veterans have already been to many parts of the world where diplomacy and development are needed. We know the people, we get the mission, and we enjoy the work.”


JJ Yuhas working for USAID in Haiti.

After several deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, he saw first-hand how poor infrastructure and a weak economy can contribute to instability. Keeping our nation safe is a job both the military and civilian departments are tasked with.

JJ’s mission in Haiti is to build hospitals and to help farmers have better harvests. “These things are very important to national security,” he told me. “The last thing we need here is a haven for terrorism 700 miles off the coast of Miami Beach.”

Countless veterans today are working for both development agencies and private contractors that support our work around the world. Like JJ, they’re armed with military training, a new set of orders, and a dedication to keeping our nation safe.

Veterans Day is about acknowledging everything our Veterans have done while in uniform, but it’s also important to remember what they are still doing as civilians for our nation and her allies overseas.