AUSTIN, Texas – As a retired major general with over 36 years of Army service under his belt, Kendall Cox considers himself a “Soldier for life.”
“That’s where my heart is,” he said.
Cox was inspired early on to serve his country – his father served in the Army for 30 years, as did his grandfather. He continued the family tradition by attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, commissioning as an Engineer officer.
During the successful career that followed, Cox fulfilled roles that included Battalion Commander in the 101st Airborne Division, Brigade Commander in the 1st Cavalry Division and Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Southwest Division and Transatlantic Division, culminating as the Deputy Commanding General of III Armored Corps. He also completed multiple deployments to Iraq, where he leveraged his engineering skills to help rebuild infrastructure in Baghdad, and Afghanistan.
“I had a burning desire and passion to serve for as long as the Army would allow me,” Cox shared, adding that he “absolutely never expected to be a general officer.”
When it did come time to hang up his uniform, Cox and his wife chose to retire in the city of Harker Heights, Texas, not far from Fort Hood. It wasn’t long, however, before Cox felt the pull to return to the Army, this time as a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (CASA).
CASAs are unpaid volunteers appointed by the Secretary of the Army to advise and support Army leaders, Soldiers, Civilians and Families across the country. They represent a diverse mix of community influencers who commit at least two years to serving in their roles, which place a strong emphasis on the importance of recruiting efforts and telling the Army story.
The CASA role provides a unique opportunity “to be the voice for the Army to the greater American public, as well as to corporate America,” Cox explained.
The position is also instrumental in furthering recruiting efforts.
“One of our primary responsibilities as part of telling the Army story is to help the recruiters in their efforts to bring in America’s best to join the armed forces,” Cox said. He emphasized how recruiting is important not only for strengthening today’s force, but also for solidifying the Army’s – and nation’s – future readiness.
“In order for us to remain the country that everyone else aspires to be like, we have to ensure that our Army remains the premier land force in the world,” Cox said.
CASAs additionally serve as liaisons, connecting local communities to Army headquarters.
“CASAs have direct access to the senior leaders in the Army, both on the military side and civilian side. If you use that opportunity properly, you have the ability to ensure that the needs and requirements for your particular area, and specifically installation, are heard,” Cox said.
Cox has served as CASA for the Central Texas Region for approximately one year. Through his role, he helps to cultivate beneficial relationships between Fort Hood and the local community, as well as between Fort Hood and Army Futures Command.
He also works with Fort Hood on quality of life initiatives for Soldiers and their Families. Projects he was supported in this area include ensuring appropriate funding is available to improve or build critical infrastructure and family housing on base, or coordinating with community leaders to improve Soldier access to safe and affordable housing off base.
Whether participating in recruiting events, engaging community members on key issues or supporting Army efforts to test and evaluate future systems at Fort Hood, Cox has found the impacts of his work to be tangible.
“I’ve already been able to see the fruits of my labor just in the one year that I’ve been a CASA,” he said.
As a former general officer, Cox does sometimes have to remind himself to be patient – “I have a tendency to try to get things done a lot faster than maybe the system will allow” – but overall has been greatly impressed with the program and the dedication and enthusiasm of his fellow CASAs.
“Being a CASA is about serving the American people,” Cox said.
“It’s not about status, it’s not about title; it’s about making a difference every single day.”
He has observed this selflessness and commitment to service in his colleagues; “Many of them never served a day in the military, yet they have a true passion for what their Soldiers and their Families do for their nation,” Cox said.
He also deeply appreciates the opportunity “to be able to make a difference – make a difference for the Soldiers, the Civilians, the Veterans, their Families, Fort Hood specifically and the community.”
“It’s an opportunity that cannot be wasted,” he said.