Centerville HS grad prepares to step down as Army secretary

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning talks military issues

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Eric Fanning was 1986 graduate of Centerville High School.

In his eight months as Secretary of the Army, Eric Fanning said he focused on improving behavioral health services, keeping forces ahead of the latest threats from adversaries and opening military jobs to all who meet the requirements.

RELATED: Centerville grad nominated to lead Army fears plan for less troops

Fanning, a 1986 Centerville High School graduate, said if he were staying on the job, he would focus on making behavioral health services more accessible — and even required — for soldiers and civilians returning from combat zones. He noted that he believes everyone comes back with some level of post traumatic stress disorder and about 20 percent are unable to overcome it on their own.

Fanning spoke at Ohio State University and the University of Michigan on Wednesday about how public service is essential to national security and he urged college students to consider a career serving their country.

“You really have an opportunity to make a difference for your country and your fellow citizens,” he said in Columbus.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Eric Fanning questioned by Senators during nomination hearing

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

As secretary, Fanning is responsible for management, budget, acquisition, personnel and base issues for a network of some 150 installations around the world. Army soldiers are deployed in about 140 countries and the Army employs 1.4 workers, second only to Walmart.

Fanning is the first openly gay person to serve as secretary of the Army and is also the only person to hold senior executive jobs in three military branches: Army, Air Force and Navy.

Fanning, who took office in May 2016, will soon be replaced. President-elect Donald Trump nominated Vincent Viola for the post. Viola, a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger, owns the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers and is founder of the digital trader firm Virtu Financial. His appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

If confirmed by the Senate, Viola will take over as civilian leader of an Army struggling to recoup and recapitalize after more than 15 years at war. Fanning said another challenge is that the federal budget process is so unstable that it doesn’t allow for long-term planning.

Fanning said a smooth transition of power is a proud tradition at the Department of Defense but it is also a time when adversaries may try to test the United States.

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