Champions of Change : Dawn Halfaker

By Debbie Gregory.

Military police officer, Army Cpt. Dawn Halfaker was on a three-hour patrol in Iraq, searching for enemy combatants. Near the end of the night, her unit found them – when they drove headfirst into an ambush.

Halfaker, who was in the first vehicle, was hit squarely with a rocket-propelled grenade. The blast severely injured both her and one of her squad leaders. The last thing she remembers of her tour in Iraq is being loaded into a helicopter.

When she awoke she thought she was still on the battlefield. Family and doctors at her bedside had to explain that she was safe, in the hospital and left without one of her arms.

For Halfaker, a 2001 West Point graduate, she lost more than her arm. She lost a career that she loved and worked for.

“I took that all in and looked over and started to understand the severity of the situation. I was in a lot of pain. I really thought my life was over,” she said. “I had a hard time accepting everything they were telling me. I lost my arm, but losing my career was what I felt I had to recover from.”

As Halfaker recovered and began searching for a place in the workforce where she fit, she realized quickly that neither politics nor defense contracting was a good match.

Instead, she created her own company, Halfaker and Associates, and works with civilian and military partners to address national security services such as information technology, program management and acquisition, logistics and infrastructure, among other services. Halfaker serves as chief executive officer.

Before launching her enterprise, Halfaker served as a military liaison to the House Armed Services Committee and advised the committee chair on key Department of Defense legislation and issues. She also worked with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, specializing in technical consulting for the Defense Sciences Offices.

In the community, Halfaker is a member of several Veteran Service Organizations and is currently President of the Board of Directors for the Wounded Warrior Project. The project aims to create direct programs and services to meet the varied needs of the nation’s wounded service members.

It is a mission that Halfaker doesn’t just believe in, but that she supports through her words, actions and deeds.

“Wounded Warrior Project brings a lot of support to the table,” she said. “They really inspire our wounded war fighters, motivating people to reach new goals. The people at WWP help you figure things out when your whole life has suddenly changed and you’re dealing with your losses.”

Halfaker also spends time working with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Committee for OIF/OEF soldiers and families to improve VA policies and care for veterans who were severely injured in combat and is actively serving on the Secretary of Labor’s Advisory Committee for Veterans Employer Training and Employer Outreach and the Department of Veteran Affairs Readjustment Committee. She is also a member of the Advisory Board for Humana Military Health Systems, ThanksUSA and Paradox Sports.