Former Miss America Heather French Henry is Governor Steve Beshear’s choice to head the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs.
Beshear announced the appointment today saying it's part of his ongoing commitment to help Kentucky veterans and their families.
“Heather is highly motivated and has vast experience assisting and creating programs for veterans throughout the Commonwealth and the nation,” Beshear said. “As the department’s new commissioner, she will continue our mission to raise awareness and offer services to our veterans.”
Henry’s appointment replaces Ken Lucas who’s held the position since 2009 and has been tasked to oversee construction of the state’s fourth veterans nursing home in Radcliff.
Henry is a longtime advocate for veterans affairs and has received numerous state and national awards including the Patriot Award from USA Cares; the Americanism Award from Veterans of Foreign Wars; the Humanitarian Award from AMVETS; the American Patriot Award from NCOA (Non-Commissioned Officers Association) and the Martha Washington Spirit Award from the Military Order of the Purple Heart Ladies Auxiliary.
She started the Heather French Foundation for Veterans in 1999 shortly after being crowned Miss America 2000.
In 2001, the U.S. Congress passed the Heather French Henry Homeless Veterans Assistance Act, bipartisan legislation focusing on the eradication of homelessness among veterans nationwide, especially homeless female veterans.
“I greatly appreciate Gov. Beshear’s confidence in my experience as a national veterans advocate and look forward to continuing my work as the commissioner to serve the veterans of the Commonwealth and their families,” Henry said. “Honoring our veterans has been and will always be my life’s mission, and I am honored that I can serve them in this way.”
Starting July 1, Henry will be responsible for overseeing operations of the department as well as coordination of the 18 statewide field offices, health care outreach and cemetery services.