Helping us forge lasting bonds with the military community.
The First Command Military Advisory Board constitutes a select group of retired senior flag officers and senior enlisted leaders from each of the Nation’s military services. The 10-member board provides First Command with advice on how to best serve the interests of our valued military clients, and offers an independent perspective on important issues like:
- Trends that affect military personnel and their families.
- Products and services that serve the best interests of military families.
- The evolving financial needs of military families.
- How to align First Command’s high ethical standards with the high standards of the military.
- How to build strong relationships with each branch of service, their civilian workforce and reserve force, and the National Guard.
Meet the board.
Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen is a United States veteran who served in the U.S. Army for 43 years. His military career culminated with his appointment as the 59th superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point. He held this position for five years and retired in 2018.
Before this assignment, Lt. Gen. Caslen served as the chief of the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq, where he served as the senior military commander in Iraq after the drawdown of U.S. and allied forces in 2011. Lt. Gen. Caslen also served as the commandant of the United States Army Command and General Staff College and the commanding general of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth.
During his time in the U.S. Army, Lt. Gen Caslen held several other notable positions including commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division, commanding general of the Multi-National Division- North during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Commandant of Cadets for the U.S. Military Academy. He served as Chief of Staff of both the 101st Airborne Division (AASLT) and the 10th Mountain Division, where he also served as Chief of Staff of TF Mountain during Operation Enduring Freedom. Additionally, he was deployed in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, JTF-B in Honduras, and Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti.
His awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Defense Superior Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Legion of Merit with four oak leaf clusters, the Bronze Star Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters. He also earned the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge and is Airborne, Air Assault and Ranger qualified.
A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Lt. Gen Caslen holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Long Island University and a Master of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Kansas State University. He is a member of the Kansas State Engineering College Hall of Fame, recognized for a Life Time of Service Award from the American Red Cross, was selected as the Honorary Rock of the Year Award for his efforts in diversity as the Superintendent of West Point, and was recognized with an honorary Doctorate from Long Island University.
He has been married to the former Michele Pastin since 1977. They have 3 sons and 4 grandchildren.
Sgt. Maj. Kenneth O. Preston is a United States veteran who served in the United States Army for almost 36 years. He retired in 2011 as the longest serving Sergeant Major of the Army — holding the position of 13th Sergeant Major of the Army from January 2004 to March 2011.
During this time, Sgt. Maj. Preston served as the Army Chief of Staff's personal advisor on all soldier- and family-related matters. He devoted the majority of his time traveling to Army instillations to provide support for leaders and to talk to soldiers and their families to understand their needs, personal hardships and challenges of serving a nation at war. Before becoming Sergeant Major of the Army, Sgt. Maj. Preston held a variety of command sergeant major positions. Most recently, he served as the Command Sergeant Major for the Combined Joint Task Force 7 in Baghdad, Iraq.
Sgt. Maj. Preston holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Trident University International. He has also completed several military educational courses, including the Basic Noncommissioned Officer's Course, Advanced Noncommissioned Officer's Course, First Sergeant's Course, M1/M1A1 Tank Master Gunner Course, Master Fitness Trainer Course, Battle Staff Noncommissioned Officer's Course and the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy.
His military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, two Legions of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, four Army Meritorious Service Medals, a Joint Service Commendation Medal, four Army Commendation Medals, three Army Achievement Medals, the Good Conduct Medal 11th award, two National Defense ribbons, the Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the NCOES Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon 5th award, the NATO Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal (Government of Kuwait), two Joint Meritorious Unit Awards, Army Meritorious Unit Commendation and the Department of the Army Staff Badge.
Lt. Gen. John E. Wissler is a United States veteran who served in the Marine Corps for 39 years. His career culminated in the position of Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command and Commanding General, Fleet Marine Forces, Atlantic, which he held until his retirement in 2017.
Previously, Lt. Gen. Wissler served as the Commanding General, III Marine Expeditionary Force and Commander, Marine Corps Forces in Japan. During this time, he was twice activated as the Commander of Joint Task Force 505, conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in the Philippines after Super Typhoon Haian and in Nepal after the 2015 earthquakes.
His other General Officer command assignments include: Commanding General of the 2d Force Service Support Group and 2d Marine Logistics Group during Operation Iraqi Freedom; Deputy Commanding General for the Multinational Force West during Operation Iraqi Freedom; Deputy Commanding General II Marine Expeditionary Force; and Commanding General of the 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
Lt. Gen. Wissler holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Ocean Engineering from the United States Naval Academy and a Master of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He is a graduate of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, the Amphibious Warfare School, the Armed Forces Staff College. He completed a year-long Federal Executive Fellowship in Foreign Policy studies at the Brookings Institution.
Sgt. Maj. Alford L. McMichael is a United States veteran who served for more than 36 years in the United States Marine Corps. His military career culminated in an appointment as the first ever senior noncommissioned officer for Allied Command Operations to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (NATO).
Before his appointment to NATO, Sgt. Maj. McMichael was the 14 Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps between 1999 and 2003. Before this position, he had several other appointments as a sergeant major at various locations including the United States Marine Corps headquarters, Manpower and reserve Affairs Division; the 1 Marine Aircraft Wing; the 31 Marine Expeditionary Unit in Okinawa, Japan; and the Officer Candidates School at Marine Corps Base Quantico.
Prior to becoming a sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. McMichael held several other significant leadership positions: the director of the Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy; the assistant Marine officer for the NROTC Program at the University of Minnesota; and the first sergeant of Company C, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion in Okinawa, Japan.
Sgt. Maj. McMichael's military honors include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
Since his retirement from the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. McMichael has continued to advocate on behalf of service members. Currently, he is a managing director of Pinnacle Five, LLC, a consulting company focused on providing advisory services to businesses and organizations associated with veteran issues and the Department of Defense.
Sgt. Maj. McMichael serves on the board of directors with the Call of Duty Endowment, which identifies and funds organizations that help unemployed veterans find work. He is also a member of the advisory board for Thanks USA, a non-partisan, charitable effort to provide scholarships for children and spouses of active-duty military personnel.
Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk is a veteran who served in the United States Navy for 34 years. His military career culminated in an appointment as the 56 Chief of Naval Personnel. He was sworn in on October 11, 2011 and served in this role until August 2013. Before assuming this position, Vice Adm. Van Buskirk was the Commander of the Seventh Fleet.
As a Flag Officer, Vice Adm. Van Buskirk served in several assignments including U.S Pacific Fleet Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff; Commander Carrier Strike Group Nine; Assistant Deputy of Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy (N3/N5B); and the Deputy to the Deputy Chief of Staff, Strategic Effects for the Multi-National Force- Iraq.
A career submariner, Vice Adm. Van Buskirk served on board the following submarines: USS Seawolf (SSN 575), USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716), USS Tunny (SSN 682), and USS Georgia (SSBN 729-Gold). He also commanded USS Pasadena (SSN 752). Ashore, he commanded the Submarine Development Squadron 12 and served on various staffs including the Navy Office of Legislative Affairs and both the Submarine Force U.S Pacific and Atlantic commands.
Vice Adm. Van Buskirk is a 1979 graduate of the United States Naval Academy and holds a master's degree from the Naval Postgraduate School.
After his retirement from the U.S Navy in 2013, Vice Adm. Van Buskirk joined Oceaneering International Incorporated's Advanced Technologies Group, a global provider of engineered services and products for the oil and gas, defense, space, entertainment and robotic sectors. He currently serves as the Vice President for Strategic Program Development for the company.
Master Chief Petty Officer Rick D. West is a veteran who served in the United States Navy for 32 years. He was appointed as the 12th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy in 2008. Prior to that, he served as Fleet Master Chief for Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command and Pacific Fleet Master Chief. Master Chief West was the first senior enlisted leader to serve in this role for both operational fleets and be selected for Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy.
Master Chief West served as the Command Master Chief onboard USS Preble, which was homeported in San Diego, where he deployed on the ship’s maiden voyage to the Persian Gulf and qualified as an enlisted surface warfare specialist. Prior to that, he held the position of Force Master Chief for Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Command Master Chief at Submarine Squadron ELEVEN.
Some of Master Chief West’s other assignments include Chief of the Boat aboard the San Diego-based fast-attack submarine USS Portsmouth; Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Staff, USS Tecumseh; Commander Naval Activities United Kingdom; USS Sea Devil; USS Thomas Edison and USS Ethan Allen.
His military honors include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, two Legion of Merit awards, three Meritorious Service Medals, four Navy Commendation Medals, two Navy Achievement Medals, the Enlisted Submarine Insignia, the Enlisted Surface Warfare Insignia and the SSBN Deterrent Patrol Pin.
Master Chief West currently works in business development and client engagement for Progeny Systems Corporation. He is also a co-owner of Summit Six LLC, an organization whose mission is to improve the leadership abilities of America’s workforce, and co-authored a book on leadership with the five senior enlisted leaders who share ownership with him. Master Chief West and his wife, Bobbi, who is also a veteran, live in Poulsbo, Washington.
Lt. Gen. Norman R. Seip is a United States veteran who served in the United States Air Force for 35 years. His military career culminated in the position of Commander, 12 Air Force/Air Forces South at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, retiring in October 2009.
A command pilot with more than 4,500 flying hours, Lt. Gen. Seip flew the F-15E in support of Operations Southern Watch, Northern Watch, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He held the position of Deputy Combined Forces Air Component Commander for U.S. Central Command, and he had a direct impact in supporting combat operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. He has commanded at the squadron, group, and wing level and served on Major Command, joint, and Headquarters Air Force staffs.
Lt. Gen. Seip holds a Bachelor of Science degree in History from the United States Air Force Academy and a Master of Public Administration degree from Golden Gate University. He is a graduate from the Squadron Officer School, the Air Command and Staff College, and the Air War College.
Post retirement, Lt. Gen. Seip was a USAF Senior Mentor for six years involved in all aspects of operational level warfare and command and control.
His awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Air Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Aerial Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, and numerous international awards.
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force (CMSAF) James A. Roy is a United States veteran who served in the United States Air Force for 31 years. He served as the personal advisor to the Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Air Force on all issues regarding the welfare, readiness, morale, and proper utilization and progress of the enlisted force. CMSAF Roy is the 16th chief master sergeant appointed to the highest noncommissioned officer position.
Chief Roy entered the Air Force in 1982. His background includes numerous leadership roles at squadron, group, numbered air force and combatant command levels. He served as a superintendent of a military personnel flight and a mission support group before becoming a command chief master sergeant at the wing, air expeditionary wing, numbered air force and combatant command levels. Before assuming his final position, Chief Roy served as the Senior Enlisted Leader and adviser to the U.S. Pacific Command Combatant Commander and staff.
Post-retirement, Chief Roy has held a series of progressively more senior positions at the Scientific Research Corporation, including Senior Program Manager of Air Force Programs, Director of Air Force Programs, Senior Director of Operation Testing, and Senior Director of Product, Sustainment and Instrumentation.
Chief Roy holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Management from Park College in Parkville, Missouri, where he graduated with honors. In addition, he earned a Master’s of Science in Human Resource Management from Troy State College in Troy, Alabama. He has completed senior leadership courses at the Department of Defense and the Defense Institute of Security Assistance Management, Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.
- Distinguished Service Medal
- Defense Superior Service Medal
- Defense Meritorious Service Medal
- Meritorious Service Medal with silver oak leaf cluster
- Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters
- Air Force Achievement Medal with silver oak leaf cluster
After serving for 35 years in the United States Coast Guard, Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O’Hara was sworn in as the 27 Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard on May 24, 2010. During her two-year tenure in this role, she served as the Coast Guard second-in-command, executing the commandant's strategic intent, managing internal organization governance and serving as the component acquisition executive.
Before becoming Vice Commandant, Vice Adm. Brice-O’Hara held several other flag level positions including Deputy Commandant for Operations, Commander of the Fourteenth Coast Guard District, Director of Reserve and Training, Commander of the Fifth Coast Guard District and Director of Personnel Management. In these positions, her assignments varied widely, from managing operations for over 12 million square miles of the Central Pacific Ocean to developing policies to recruit, train, allocate and support Coast Guard Ready Reservists.
At the time of her selection to flag rank, Vice Adm. Brice-O’Hara was the Commanding Officer of Training Center Cape May, the Coast Guard's only recruit training program. Before that, she held several other notable positions at stations across the country and at the Coast Guard Academy.
A native of Annapolis, Maryland, she graduated from Goucher College in 1974 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology, and she received her Coast Guard commission from Officer Candidate School the following year. She holds a Master of Science degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College and a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration from John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where she was named a Littauer Fellow.
Vice Adm. Brice-O’Hara's personal awards include the Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal, a Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal, five Legions of Merit, a Meritorious Service Medal, six Coast Guard Commendation Medals, two Coast Guard Achievement Medals and the Commandant’s Letter of Commendation.
Charles “Skip” W. Bowen III served as the 10 Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard (MCPOCG), assuming the position on 14 June 2006. He was previously assigned as the Officer in Charge of Coast Guard Station Marathon.
After attending basic training at Coast Guard Station Cape May in Cape May, N.J., in 1978, MCPOCG Bowen's first duty station was to a patrol boat, USCGC in Clearwater, Fla. From there he was assigned to Coast Guard Station Marathon in the Florida Keys just in time for the Mariel boatlift in 1980. A subsequent assignment at Station Fort Pierce, Fla., was followed by another patrol boat, the newly commissioned USCGC , homeported in Miami. From south Florida he traveled to the Mid-Atlantic seaboard to join USCGC Point Arena as the Executive Petty Officer. Upon advancing to Chief Petty Officer he was assigned as the Officer in Charge of Coast Guard Station New Haven, Conn., in June 1990. Following a successful tour at New Haven, he was transferred to Station Sand Key in Clearwater Beach, Fla., in 1994.
In 1997, MCPOCG Bowen was assigned as the Officer in Charge of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter in Newport, R.I., until her decommissioning in April 1998. During May 1998 he was assigned as the Officer in Charge of Coast Guard Cutter , based in Woods Hole, Mass., which was the first of the high-tech 87-foot (26.5 m) Patrol Boats on the east coast.
From 1999 to 2001, MCPOCG Bowen served as the Seventh District Command Master Chief. In May 2002, he graduated with distinction from the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy. While at the Academy, he was selected as one of the few non-Army students ever to serve as a class vice president. Upon graduation, he was awarded the prestigious William G. Bainbridge Chair of Ethics award. From June 2002 to June 2004, he served as the Command Master Chief of the Headquarters' Units. In addition to those duties, he also served as the Interim Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard from July – October 2002.
- Advanced Boat Force Operations Insignia
- Cutterman Insignia
- Officer-in-Charge Afloat Pin
- Officer-in-Charge Ashore Pin
- Commandant Staff Badge
- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard
- Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal
- Meritorious Service Medal with three gold award stars and "O" device
- Coast Guard Commendation Medal with three gold award stars and "O" device
- Coast Guard Achievement Medal with two gold award stars and "O" device
- Commandant's Letter of Commendation
- Coast Guard Presidential Unit Citation with "hurricane symbol"
- Secretary of Transportation Outstanding Unit Award
- Coast Guard Unit Commendation with award star and "O" device
- Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation with one silver and two gold award stars and "O" device
- Meritorious Team Commendation with silver and gold award star and "O" device
- Coast Guard Bicentennial Unit Commendation
- Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal with one silver and four bronze service stars
- National Defense Service Medal with one service star
- Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
- Humanitarian Service Medal with service star
- Special Operations Service Ribbon with two service stars
- Sea Service Ribbon with two service stars
- Non-Commissioned Officer Development Ribbon with award numeral 4
- Expert Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon
- Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon with bronze sharpshooter device
- Eight Service Stripes