Members of the military contribute in many ways to our national security, and once they leave the military, they have a unique and nuanced perspective that can add tremendous value to our foreign policy. The Veterans Innovation Partnership Fellowship provides a valuable on-ramp for Veterans interested in careers at the State Department and in foreign policy more broadly.

Image: VIP logoThe U.S. Department of State launched the Veterans Innovation Partnership (VIP) in October 2013, a public-private alliance that serves America’s returned service members by preparing them for meaningful diplomacy and development careers. VIP enhances America’s global leadership and provides education, employment resources, and expertise to returned Veterans. The program is highly competitive and open only to Veterans who have received a master’s degree within the last two years (except for Veterans precluded from doing so due to their military service obligation, who have up to six years after master’s degree completion to apply).

Veterans who are accepted into the program serve on the front lines of diplomacy at State, where they have the opportunity to work in many different departments for a full year as part of the paid fellowship. VIP Fellows bring their real world experience from the military and academia to the hands on practice of policy making.

In celebration of this year’s Independence Day, applications will open for the fourth class of VIP Fellows on July 5. The State Department will select eligible Veterans to serve as foreign affairs officers, addressing important matters such as refugees and migration, conflict stabilization, and countering violent extremism, to take the lessons learned in the battlefield and apply them to advance our diplomatic efforts, thereby helping our country avoid future conflicts.

The secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships is taking applications through starting on July 5 with a maximum capacity of 500 submissions, therefore qualified Veterans should be prepared to submit on that first day.  Veterans can find more information about the application process at and FAQs. The deadline for application submission is July 17, 2017.

For questions on VIP, email us at

Image: Christine “CJ” JohnsonChristine “CJ” Johnson served her country as a trauma medic in the United States Air Force, completing three deployments during Operation Iraqi Freedom, where she worked in level-one trauma, mass casualty and emergency preparedness planning. After her honorable discharge in 2007, she received her nursing license and worked in a federal hospital while earning a bachelor’s degree in political science, with a minor in international relations, followed by a master’s degree in political science and foreign affairs, with subfield studies in Arab regional politics and Arabic language. While attending Northeastern Illinois University, CJ received a master’s certificate of advanced education in homeland security. She recently completed a year as a VIP Fellow, noting that it “offered me the opportunity to not only experience the career I dreamed of, but also open the door into a new world where my skills, both military and medical, could be put to service in a more grandiose way.” She intends to parlay her military and medical management skills with her foreign policy pursuits. CJ is currently applying her expertise as a foreign affairs officer in the Secretary of State’s Office of Global Partnerships on Team Innovation, primarily covering global initiatives in support of public-private partnerships for the department.


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Published on Jun. 30, 2017

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  1. Rigoberto M. Vindiola July 13, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    I’m a Vietnam Veteran and former employee of the U.S. Department of State; employed February 2000 to April 2003 as a Visa Specialist at the American Consulate in Tijuana, Mexico.

    The Veterans Administration (VA) diagnosed me with PTSD and Tinnitus November 2013. Exactly one month after the “U.S. Department of State launched the Veterans Innovation Partnership (VIP) in October 2013.”

    The VA also granted service-connection for Bilateral Hearing Loss and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) March 2014, for a combined rating of 60%.

    The VA’s rating provided eligibility for employment protection under three categories of the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA), i.e., Vietnam era veteran, special disabled veteran (30% or more), and veterans who served on active duty during a war for which a campaign badge was authorized.

    Due to undiagnosed and untreated combat-related PTSD (symptoms), the U.S. Department of State/American Consulate misjudged my behavior, targeting and/or selecting me for intentional deprivation of equal opportunity; knowingly and subtlety punishing/penalizing me so as to compel me, through duress and frustration, to surrender my resignation.

    The U.S. Department of State, through the American Consulate in Tijuana, Mexico, violated my veteran’s employment protection rights under the VEVRAA. Other Acts may apply, e.g., Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act.

    Bias and discrimination in the employment venue is frowned upon and discouraged. In the case of Vietnam veterans, it violates the protections afforded the veteran by the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA).

    Accusations of war crimes in Vietnam, amid allegations of trading visas for burritos and Chinese food, slander, and drug suspicion, triggered reactions, i.e., painful memories (flashbacks, nightmares), avoidance and isolationism, increased arousal (being on guard, trouble sleeping). The reactions continued and grew in severity and intensity giving rise to severe stress, depression, anger, hopelessness, apprehension and paranoia.

    Other allegations, not published because of their ridiculousness include: threatening to kill a Mexican National consulate employee, and fighting with U.S. Customs Officers at the international border crossing between Calexico, Calif. and Mexicali, Mexico.

    I became persona non grata at work. I wasn’t trusted, my duties were severely limited, keys were taken away and I was being watched constantly. The hostile workplace became even more hostile. The administrators wouldn’t speak to me, co-workers kept their distance.

    Unfriendly co-workers were interviewed and given the chance to discredit me, e.g., Karla Brown. Not all co-workers were contacted. Not all comments were reported. I wasn’t allowed to face my accusers.

    This adversity aggravated the PTSD, exacerbated the symptoms; psychological highs and lows were prevalent. Stressful anxieties brought about anguishing impairments, e.g., flash anger, poor judgment and reasoning, inability to recognize or accept limitations, difficulty understanding others, impaired social skills, feeling numb, being irritable, being on guard and isolating myself from others. Not to mention the problems at home.

    My PTSD disorder began exploding, the symptoms skyrocketed as did my depression, insomnia, irritability, and anger.
    I couldn’t think straight, was always fearful, and felt my health (mental and physical) deteriorating.

    The American Consulate sent the damaging allegations up the chain of command. The defamatory communication was sent to the upper echelon, the ruling minority, with the intent to injure my reputation, and to excite adverse, derogatory and unpleasant feelings or opinions against me on the basis of hearsay. I was libeled, slandered and defamed. My mental health went to hell as did my job.

    The American Consulate knew I was a Vietnam Veteran, and knew about the Vietnam Veterans Act (VEVRAA). Yet, 28 years after the Vietnam War ended, the American Consulate accused me of war crimes based on hearsay and third party admissions. They hounded and harassed, they interrogated, demeaned and investigated me. There were no offers, or options, to re-train or re-educate, or transfer to another position.

    My military service-connected PTSD symptoms were used against me. It would seem clear my PTSD disorder and its symptoms were seen as aberrant behavior and used as a reason to punish me with bias and discrimination in the employment venue. It would seem clear my PTSD affliction impaired professional and career advancements.

    It also seems clear that the American Consulate/U.S. Department of State, did not abide by the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act, which requires employers to take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment specified categories of veterans protected by the ACT and prohibits discrimination against such veterans. Discrimination in hiring, promotion or other advantages of employment on the basis of military service is prohibited.

    In this Veteran’s case, the American Consulate, intentionally overlooked, circumvented, and/or ignored this Act; they failed, intentionally neglected and refused to comply with provisions relating to the employment of veterans. These intentional administrative directives smack of misfeasance and malfeasance, respectively.

    The targeting and/or selection of an employed Vietnam era veteran for intentional deprivation of equal opportunity so as to knowingly force the employed Vietnam veteran to eventually resign would seem totally against the protections of the VEVRAA. It even smacks of conspiracy to deprive one of protected rights.

    The American Consulate, with intentional malice and forethought, refused to allow me to professionally advance and refused me continued employment. It is the American Consulate’s job to know the law, it is to their disfavor to maliciously manipulate it to intentionally harm an employee just because the employee fell into disfavor with agency upper echelon due to hearsay allegations of misbehavior.

    It was obvious employer upper echelon had singled me out for discriminatory administrative punitive action. I lost career upward mobility and the financial and social benefits derived therefrom, e.g., better income wages, better health and retirement benefits. Federal employment was no longer available.

    That the federal government, the U.S. Department of State, would make such damaging allegations without hard evidence other than hearsay is hard to accept. That they would use Vietnam against me is unconscionable.

    Attempts to fight the U.S. Department of State were made but resources were lacking. The VA was contacted for help but the VA never responded. I was the second veteran to be terminated by the American Consulate; the first was Oscar Cota, a WWII veteran. Both of us were replaced by younger employees. DOL was contacted but nothing came of it because proof was lacking. Even the Vietnam Veterans of America has declined to respond.

    In April of 2003, under threat of termination, I resigned from the American Consulate/ U.S. Department of State.
    I felt I had no choice but to resign. Not knowing what to do and in mental turmoil, I took back my resignation but was found “unsuitable” and lost the job even though I appealed my termination.

    Perhaps now, since Monk v. Mabus restored benefits to Vietnam Veterans punished for aberrant behavior that was later discovered to be related to PTSD symptoms, justice may come my way. Veterans beware.

    R.Vindiola 7/13/2017

  2. David P. Velez July 10, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    I would like to apply for the VIP foreign affairs program. Thank you.

  3. Lawrence Reeves July 6, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    I want to complement the VA for giving us Veterans tools to better access help and service for us veterans. I am really concerning about the lack of information that is available on e-benefit as it relates to claim status. I should be able to access information that gives clear guidance as to the exact status of my claim. I should be able to understand the exact dates of decision an see on screen any letters with concerning my case . I should know that my case has arrive at station x on ta specific date and will leave station x on a target date. I should be able to see specific information relating to my case. If the VA would take a look at questions that Veterans call the 800 number to inquire they could implement and improve what is on the e-benefits web site they could save a tremendous amount of time and money on the part of the VA and the time for veterans calling . I use My health Vet often to order my medications, to correspond with my primary care doctor and to check my medical records. i am a strong advocate for the electronic tools that I have available just need some tweaking.

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