DoD Appoints Military Mentors for 61st US Senate Youth Program

U.S. Department of Defense

17 Officers to Serve as Washington Week Returns to In-Person Format

The Department of Defense (DoD) today announced the 17 U.S. military officers selected to serve as Armed Forces ambassadors in support of the 61st Annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) Washington Week, which returns to in person in Washington, D.C., March 4-11.

USSYP military mentors represent their individual Service components and serve as role models for the 104 student delegates, two from each state, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity. The DoD looks for military mentors who exhibit personal and professional excellence and have a passion for public service.

This year’s senior military mentor is Cmdr. Roberto C. Concepcion, U.S. Coast Guard, who served as a military mentor in 2021 and led the team in 2022. Selected for assistant senior military mentor is Lt. Col. Anja M. Loomis, U.S. Marine Corps, who served in this role in 2008. Together they will serve with a joint force team of 15 military mentors: Maj. Remoshay R. Nelson, U.S. Air Force; Maj. Joseph R. Tomczak, U.S. Air Force; Maj. Daria C. Awusah, U.S. Air Force; Maj. Scott J. Hollister, U.S. Space Force; Lt. Cmdr. Alexandra S. Miller, U.S. Coast Guard; Maj. Holli R. Nelson, Air National Guard; Capt. Simone M. Askew, U.S. Army; Capt. Joseph L. Puntoriero, U.S. Army; Capt. Genevieve A. Heaps, U.S. Marine Corps; Capt. Margaret A. Mello, U.S. Marine Corps; Capt. Patrick A. Sansbury, U.S. Marine Corps; Lt. Lauren M. Hickey, U.S. Navy; Lt. James P. Eggers, U.S. Coast Guard; 1st Lt. Ryan C. Boileau, U.S. Army; and Ltjg Michael C. Tafaro, U.S. Navy.

“This extraordinary group of officers represent the broadest range of military skills, geographic assignments, and leadership experiences drawn from a pool of exceptional and diverse candidates,” said Melanie Fonder Kaye, Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Strategic Engagement, whose directorate oversees DoD’s annual USSYP support. “This year’s student delegates will learn firsthand from these incredible Service members about their military, the people who serve, and what it means to serve — essential skills for this next generation of public servants.”

United States Senate Resolution 324 established USSYP in 1962 “to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and the vital importance of democratic decision making not only for America but for people around the world.” Annual DoD support of USSYP represents one of the longest-standing commitments of the Office of the Secretary of Defense to a national youth program.

USSYP has been solely funded and administered since inception by The Hearst Foundations, a national philanthropic resource for organizations working in the fields of culture, education, health and social services. All program costs, including the $10,000 undergraduate college scholarships given to each of the 104 delegates, are provided by The Hearst Foundations. The USSYP is one of two annual signature programs operated by The Hearst Foundations — the other being the Journalism Awards Program for college students — to encourage America’s best and brightest to enter the fields of journalism and public service.

“We are thankful to be bringing this important public service leadership program back in person in the nation’s capital for the first time since 2019. During the height of the pandemic, our collaboration with the Department of Defense never wavered, and with Military Mentors serving online in our interactive virtual forum, we continued the mission,” said Rayne Guilford, USSYP Program Director. “But, nothing compares to having the USSYP student delegates be in the presence of these outstanding officers. The military mentors set an example of true patriotism, comportment and inspiration, and the impact they have with the students lasts a lifetime.”

Speakers for the program generally include the highest level elected and appointed officials in each branch of government with whom the students are given the opportunity to learn from through extensive speaking and Q and A sessions.

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