General Petraeus, Dean Knott and CREATE Director Discuss Veterans Affairs

Dean Jack Knott, center, with General David Petraeus and CREATE Director Ali Abbas (Photo by Tom Queally)

By Megan Goulding (Price School of Public Policy)

November 10, 2014

General David H. Petraeus, retired four-star general and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, attended a small private luncheon at USC on Nov. 7, where he hosted a discussion on veterans policy in the United States.

The luncheon was jointly hosted by the USC Price School of Public Policy and the USC School of Social Work. Price School Dean Jack Knott welcomed the group of 14 corporate executives, foundation representatives and civic leaders, noting the tremendous privilege it is to hear from General Petraeus on this important and pressing topic.

“We are proud to have faculty like General Petraeus, who has been an outstanding partner since joining the university in 2013 as a Judge Widney Professor," said Dean Knott. “On numerous occasions, he has engaged directly with Price students, sharing with them his unique expertise on public policy, foreign policy, and international relations."

USC School of Social Work Dean Marilyn Flynn echoed Knott’s appreciation for the General’s commitment to USC, and spoke about the myriad ways in which the School of Social Work works to improve the quality of life for returning veterans. Dean Flynn spoke of the need for increased support for military families and the necessity of good data to craft effective policy for veterans. Both Deans remarked on the need for a national policy for veterans, which the country currently lacks.

General Petraeus commended the university for its commitment to veterans and active-duty service members, particularly the new USC Veterans Resource Center that opened on November 5th. General Petraeus is a faculty advisor to the USC Student Veterans Association, which identified the resource center as a top priority for veterans at the university.

Petraeus then called upon many of the guests in attendance, who shared their concerns about the state of veterans affairs in the United States. Guests included: Melody Winter Head, Regional Manager, Community Development for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Rossina Gallegos, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for Union Bank, philanthropist Christine Ofiesh ’82, and George Azadian ’48, who is a dedicated supporter of the USC Naval ROTC Alumni Fund.

The topics discussed ranged from the need to provide returning veterans with better financial education to the need for streamlining nonprofit services designed to help veterans.

This event builds upon the Price School’s ongoing commitment to advancing opportunity for returning veterans. The Price School co-sponsored a “Unite for Veterans Summit" in July, headlined by First Lady Michelle Obama. In March, the Price School raised more than $128,000 in scholarship funds for our undergraduate veterans and ROTC reserve officers by hosting a private fundraising reception featuring General Petraeus as the keynote speaker. Lastly, the Price School hosted a national conference on veterans’ affairs last fall, convening over 300 civic leaders, philanthropists and public servants — including General Petraeus and Mayor Garcetti. Leveraging the Price School’s expertise in affordable housing and economic development, the conference addressed the urgent issues of homelessness and unemployment among returning veterans.