The new year brought with it a pair of new faces in key roles for the veterans lobbying community.
Officials from the Military Officers Association of America and the Student Veterans of America each announced new leaders Monday, both promising to continue the groups' advocacy of veterans and military issues.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins took over as president and chief executive officer of MOAA, succeeding Norb Ryan, who retired last month.
For the last three years, Atkins has been the president of the publishing company Chronicle Media, based in Augusta, Georgia. In the Air Force, he served as head of Alaskan Command and the 11th Air Force at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.
A command pilot with more than 4,000 hours in fighter aircraft, Atkins also served as vice commander of the 7th Air Force and U.S. Air Force Korea, as director of operations for U.S. Pacific Command and as a special assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe during the air war over Serbia.
Atkins predicted "no lack of challenges" in his new role.
"Whenever our country has experienced an extended period of conflict, the trend has been to seek some sort of a 'peace dividend,' often in the shape of cutting end strength and curtailing pay and benefits for those who serve," he said. "Unfortunately, we're seeing that happen again right now."
Officials at SVA — who are hosting their annual conference this week, in Florida — said they'll similarly be focusing on showing the value of veterans in college campuses and local communities, along with building partnerships to help those veterans succeed.
Leading that effort will be Jared Lyon, appointed as president and CEO of the group. He's a former sailor who worked as a submariner and Navy diver, taking part in multiple deployments around the world in support of the recent wars.
Jared Lyon has been appointed as president and CEO of Student Veterans of America.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of SVA
Lyon previously served as chief development officer for the group and had been working as its acting president. He also has worked at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University and for Northrop Grumman.
Lyon earned a bachelor's degree in social science from Florida State University, where he served as president of the local SVA chapter. He was named national student veteran of the year by the group in November 2011.
"We intend to do more and do it better by reaffirming our commitment to tapping into veterans' unique strengths and ensuring that each student veteran has the resources, support and advocacy needed to achieve their full potential," he said.
He'll address the SVA convention's opening ceremonies Friday and further outline the organization's priorities in 2016.