An Honor and a Privilege: Veterans Day with The Judge Advocate General of the US Army
Lieutenant General Stuart Risch, JD ’87 returned to Seton Hall Law to speak with students, alumni and guests.
Seton Hall Law School proudly hosted Lieutenant General Stuart W. Risch, J.D. ’87, The Judge Advocate General of the United States Army on November 10, 2021, as part of Veteran’s Appreciation Week. LTG Risch spoke about the meaning of Veterans Day, and he explained how law students can get involved in the JAG Corps and why they should consider careers in service. LTG Risch also provided a stellar example of the meaning of Veterans Day through his heartfelt words and demeanor, both of which encompassed a common theme – gratitude.
Having such an accomplished member of the military come and speak to the crowd is exciting, especially when that person is the highest-ranking lawyer in the Army and a graduate of Seton Hall Law School. His career and accomplishments highlight the success and the richness of opportunity he has had in the Army. Dean Kathleen Boozang remarked in her welcome, “One thing I care about is that students have role models for being able to have it all, and Lieutenant General Risch is one such role model.”
But LTG Risch didn’t come home to his alma mater to talk about himself. That would have been easy, given his storied career. Instead, he endeavored to share with the crowd stories of others deserving of gratitude and the sense of pride he feels serving our country in honor of and alongside other servicemen and women.
On this day before Veterans Day, LTG Risch told the stories of two distinguished and valiant veterans, Father John Patrick Washington and Father Charles J. Watters, also graduates of Seton Hall. He thanked military families for the support they provide servicemen and women so they can selflessly give back to their countries. He acknowledged the accomplishments of colleagues, both present for his speech and stationed around the globe, for their service and commitment.
"It is these people, our nation’s veterans, who work and are willing to endure whatever hardships may come, and in the end are ready to make the ultimate sacrifice by laying down their lives for their fellow servicemen and women, for you and me, and for our country. That is who we recognize, honor, and pay tribute to on the 11th of November. A day to reflect on exactly what it means to be a veteran and what it means to serve a cause and a concept larger than oneself."
Stuart W. Risch, J.D. ‘87, Lieutenant General Stuart W. Risch The Judge Advocate General
After recognizing our veterans, Risch extended his gratitude to the Seton Hall Law family as well. He expressed feeling fortunate to have the opportunity to speak and inspire the next generation of lawyers and law students to truly consider a career in service. He commended the Dean and administration on the creation of the Military-Affiliated Task Force, of which LTG Risch is a member, for the “novel and substantial development” in the support of veterans and their families at the law school. At one point, LTG Risch looked up into the crowd and acknowledged Denis McLaughlin, whom Risch had as a professor during his time at Seton Hall Law School. “The faculty set me on a path that has allowed me to achieve beyond my imagination, and what I thought was my potential. To learn from someone who had the passion shine through everything he did was amazing. And he still remembered me!”
LTG Risch answered the big question on the students’ minds – what does a lawyer in the Army do? The Army JAG Corps, a law firm of trusted professionals 10,000 strong, has been performing its mission “with honor and integrity and dedication since 1775,” said LTG Risch. The JAG Corps is an all-volunteer force comprised of military lawyers, civilian lawyers, paralegals, and active and reserve duty professionals who “take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and to a concept or an ideal embodied therein.” Members of the Corps strive to uphold a set of beliefs, principles and values that are not aligned with a particular administration, political party, institution or individual, but rather with the Constitution. Risch added, “I serve each day with others who perform inherently dangerous jobs in defense and protection of the liberties we enjoy every single day, and who are committed to upholding their oath and accomplishing the mission.”
When asked why a student should consider working at the biggest law firm in the world (the Army JAG Corps) over a private practice, LTG Risch explained students should consider the Army JAG Corps culture. Aside from the ability to travel the world and work collaboratively with government agencies, such as the Department of Justice, Risch cited the opportunity to gain hands-on experience quickly. He noted he prosecuted over 100 felony cases by the time his first tour as a JAG Officer was complete, all while receiving the proper training and support he felt he needed to succeed. Realizing strong mentorship and leadership helped set him up to succeed, LTG Risch vowed to continue to focus on mentorship during his tenure as The Judge Advocate General.
And if it wasn’t already clear to those in the room, it became clear by the end of the night that LTG Risch’s experience and leadership in the Army JAG Corps Regiment allows him to demonstrate in a tangible way his overflowing gratitude through his work. “What does Veterans day mean to me?” asked Risch. “After more than forty years of total service, it has been the honor and privilege of a lifetime to serve with brothers and sisters in arms . . . who simply want to help others and be part of something greater than themselves.”
On this Veterans Day may we borrow the words from Dean Boozang’s welcome: “To all of our veterans - we honor you every day, but are proud to do so publicly today.”
Thank you for your service.