Believing in the Future with John Henley

Kathleen Jeannette Anderson
6 min readMar 14, 2022

What is it about veterans that draws them to service?

Is it our inherent desire to be a part of something larger than ourselves? Is it something we are born with or tend to and grows over time? Is it a belief that we are personally invested in communities due to the sacrifices we’ve made to our country over the years?

I imagine the answer to the first question is a compilation of all those things.

As a veteran who plans to work on campaigns and eventually run for office, I am always eager to sit down with fellow veterans living my dream of running for political office. I recently sat down with fellow veteran John Henley and his wife Janna for a bite to eat and discuss his campaign for the Virginia 10th Congressional District Republican nomination.

I immediately felt at home and as if I had been old friends with John and Janna. Perhaps it is the love they share for one another, their deep faith, and the fact that they experienced some of the same heartaches as I did while in the service that made me feel so at ease.

The desire for veterans to run for office is arguably equally matched by the public’s willingness to vote for veterans. Veterans are naturally political outsiders. The idea of electing someone outside of the political elite is very attractive to Americans after years of dealing with negative messaging and a sluggish Congress.

What makes John unique is that while he is a political outsider, he has cultivated relationships in D.C. through his service. As a Legislative Liaison, he was thrust into the world of policy and legislation, entrusted with helping draft various pieces of legislation including the creation of the United States Space Force, the Space Rapid Capabilities Office (Space RCO), and Air Battle Management System. All of this required him to understand how the legislative process works, build relationships with congressmen and women, national security advisors and cultivate trust on both sides of the aisle. In his own words, he is “Hill-wired with the right people,” which makes him such a unique and capable candidate.

We naturally spoke at length about our experiences in the military. It is no surprise that we had similar frustrations with how the military had started to evolve. We both agreed that the military leaders had lost their way to appease cries for critical race theory training and damaging requirements in the name of diversity and equity. In a world that is getting increasingly dangerous, we must focus our military on their original mission; to fight and win wars. Those who served the last few years know the social justice rooted training that lacked any tangible, measurable impact and took away from our wartime readiness. I still remember receiving the recommended reading list from my branch leadership filled with CRT books. Sitting in a room full of peers who told me I needed to acknowledge my white privilege and inherent racist attitudes. As John put it, “How can you trust your brother or sister to the right or left of you if you’ve been taught that you’re the oppressed or oppressor? It will make you think twice about giving orders and asking critical questions. It breaks down morale, good order, and discipline.” John would like to see a focus on modernizing military training to focus on programs and actions that directly tie to the current and future threats we face. If training can’t be directly linked to countering a threat, it needs to be cut.

John also believes it’s time that military leaders are held accountable for their jobs. Unfortunately, many uniformed leaders view their positions as political versus pragmatic. I have long felt the Department of Defense has turned into a self-eating snake, molding ‘yes men/women’ in uniform to elevate them to influential positions. They are then handpicked for equally significant corporate or political functions regardless of any actual skill or capability. This has created an echo chamber that no longer aims to defend America and its values but to continue feeding the machine to enable the same damaging programs and reckless spending.

The botched Afghanistan withdrawal shone a bright light on the failings of some of our tried and true institutions. John believes the only way for the American people to regain trust in the military and government is for a complete and transparent investigation into why the decisions were made by whom and when. I find it refreshing that John doesn’t stop there. Once an investigation is complete, people must be held accountable and removed from their positions if wrongdoing or negligence is discoverd. It wouldn’t be any different in a corporation, and it shouldn’t be in government.

Transparency shouldn’t just apply to the military; John firmly believes that the parent movement in this country has spurred the calls for transparency down to local levels of government. John made an interesting and accurate parallel to what former President Obama used to preach to his base; you must organize and get involved at the local grassroots level. That is precisely what parents across the country and specifically in Loudoun County have done. Both John and I believe that Conservatives, in general, need to do much better at organizing and energizing like-minded people at the local level. What happens in local and state politics often has a more immediate impact on the lives of Americans than national politics, yet has been one of the most neglected by the American people. COVID policies in schools changed that, and we need to keep that momentum of action and engagement going to see actionable change at a local level.

There is no denying that John’s eyes are on the future, and he means to be a part of making sure that the future is bright, secure, and ready for any challenge. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I have a fascination with the idea of space exploration. I gobble up anything I can on SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, spaceports, Elon Musk, and the Space Force. Space is the future. We are all on the precipice of what I believe are our first steps towards interplanetary travel. It’s exciting, it will change how we define who we are in the universe, and it also comes with its areas of risk. I doubt there is anybody better qualified to address space concerns than the man who helped write the legislation that created the Space Force.

John believes we need to modernize how we train our military and our space capabilities. He explained that our current space systems were built when space was a safe benign environment. There were no space weapons, and we didn’t have to worry about China or Russia shooting satellites out of the sky and creating dangerous space debris. That is no longer our situation. We need to invest in a more resilient space architecture with more satellites, not less.

My favorite part of my conversation with John was discussing NASA. He said,

“NASA needs to get back to doing what NASA does best; Casting a vision that captures the imagination of our youth. Because it’s our youth who will become scientists, engineers, and mathematicians that will make interplanetary travel a reality.”

I sometimes receive some flak from people because I am fascinated with people like Elon Musk and Richard Branson. But I argue my fascination is rooted in much the same as my adoration for our Founding Fathers. Our Founding Fathers were curious. They pursued knowledge as if their lives depended on it because it often did. People like Elon Musk and Richard Branson are much the same. Immovable obstacles and the concept that some things are just impossible elude them. They are programmed to test the limits of human ability and knowledge. They are curious. We can stand to have more curious people in the world, and I would argue our world be a better place.

The world is a better place because of people like John. He has dedicated his life to service and wants to continue in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District. I’ve said it a dozen times and will continue to say it a dozen more; it’s an exciting time to be a Republican in Virginia. The 10th Congressional District has a lot of highly qualified and capable Republican candidates to choose from; John most definitely is one of them. I wish him the best of luck, and I would happily break bread with him and his lovely wife any day. In the words of our old branch, I have no doubt he will continue to “Aim High.”



Kathleen Jeannette Anderson

Decorated combat veteran retired from the United States Air Force after 20 years of service. Now an accidental political blogger & out of the closet Republican.