By Alexandra Hemmerly-BrownJuly 1, 2010
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 1, 2010) -- Out of more than 700 applicants, an active-duty Army lieutenant colonel's name rose to the top of the 2010-2011 White House Fellows program list-a program designed to give participants hands-on experience with the inner workings of the government.
Lt. Col. Jason Dempsey, a Jefferson City, Mo., native and West Point graduate, was chosen alongside 12 doctors, lawyers and other professionals for a year-long fellowship to work for senior White House staff, Cabinet Secretaries or other top-ranking government officials.
Dempsey, who holds a doctorate in political science, said it was a "tremendous honor" to be chosen.
"The process was much more difficult than I thought it would be, but also much more rewarding," Dempsey said of the fellowship's competitive application process.
Throughout the six-to nine-month selection process, Dempsey said he was required to write five or six essays, a recommendation for government action and participate in a series of interviews.
"Had I not been included in that final 13, I would not have felt bad ... it was just a phenomenal group of people," he said of the other candidates.
Dempsey, a published author, said he wrote "Soldiers, Politics and American Civil-Military Relations," to dispel some common stereotypes about the Army. The book is aimed at both the American public, who might not have a lot of contact with military members, and the Army.
"There's always tension in civil-military operations," Dempsey explained.
He said two key stereotypes that the American people may have of the Army is that it is overwhelmingly Republican and that all Soldiers are hyper-political. Not so, says Dempsey, who completed a comprehensive study of the Army during his doctoral dissertation.
His findings revealed that looking at the whole Army, political persuasions are not far removed from that of the general population.
"The Army mirrors the American public almost exactly in terms of ideological self-identification," said Dempsey. "One primary purpose of the book was to show the public, 'this is who your Army is, and they are not as divorced or different from you as you may have been led to believe.'"
He also said he wrote the book as a touchstone for senior officers.
"It's a call for officers to balance their personal lives with their obligations as commissioned officers," he explained.
Dempsey said he doesn't know where exactly in the White House he'll be working yet, but he said the idea is to 'get you out of your comfort zone.' Dempsey hopes to gain knowledge from the fellows program that will help Army leadership face future decisions.
"The Army is faced with some tremendous challenges ... we are going to need more than the traditional Army skill set to deal with them," he said.
Dempsey's wife, Laura, and their two children will be joining him in Washington when the fellows program begins in September.