Heather French Henry
As the daughter of a disabled Vietnam veteran, Heather French Henry has experienced the pain and suffering that can come with military service. Throughout her life she followed her father into the halls of VA hospitals for treatments, experienced his night terrors and stood by his side in his miraculous journey “home” from the terrors of war.
After winning the title of Miss America 2000 she traveled over 300,000 miles across the United States on a national speaking tour entitled “Our Forgotten Heroes: Honoring Our Nation's Homeless Veterans.” Throughout her year she not only visited veterans facilities meeting and talking with veterans but her platform often took her to our nation’s capital to lobby members of Congress and Senate on veterans issues and legislation. During her tour veteran’s healthcare issues became another serious focus and a second campaign began entitled “Fighting the Silent Enemy: Hepatitis C.” Touring the country with Hepatitis C advocates screenings were held and hundreds of veterans were screened and made aware of the dangers of Hepatitis C. Former Congressman Lane Evans and the late Senator Paul Wellstone honored Heather by naming a comprehensive homeless veterans bill the Heather French Henry Homeless Veterans Assistance Act. She continues to work closely with members of Congress and Senate to establish and support legislation to create new opportunities for community outreach and healthcare access for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Even after her year of service Heather continued traveling across the country to raise awareness and funding for veterans issues through the Heather French Foundation for Veterans, Inc. established during her tour as Miss America 2000. She remains dedicated to raising the ideas of patriotism by educating young and old alike about the sacrifices made by the men and women who have served our nation.
In Heather’s own words: “I will always be the daughter of a veteran and therefore I will always honor those who fell by continuing to serve those who live.”
In July of 2014, Governor Steve Beshear appointed Heather as the Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs.
During her work as the former KDVA Commissioner, Mrs. Henry initiated and implemented new and exciting programs for Kentucky’s veterans. In 2014, Heather established the KY Women Veterans UNITE! 2015 Campaign to create awareness for the 24,000 women veterans living in KY and hired the first Women Veterans Coordinator for the Commonwealth of KY. Heather has also been instrumental in expanding services and transportation to veterans in rural Kentucky. She has created the KDVA Veterans Youth Council to help better educate future generations about veterans. KDVA has continued to move forward with the completion of the Radcliff Veterans Center and the Kentucky Veterans State Cemetery South East.
She was then asked to continue her service under the Bevin Administration as Deputy Commissioner of the KDVA and took that office on April 1, 2016. Henry continues working on policy and legislation as the lead legislative liason for the KDVA, chairing the KY WWI Centennial Committiee, overseeing nearly 910 employees and a $102 million annual budget.
Her efforts have been recognized by Veterans Service Organizations nationwide with the VFW Americanism Award, AMVETS Auxiliary, The Humanitarian Award, The Auxiliary of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Martha Washington Spirit Award, USA Cares Patriot Award, and recently was named as the 2016 AMVETS Silver Helmet Award recipient.
Heather is from the Augusta and Maysville, KY area. She earned her Bachelor of Science and Masters Degrees from the University of Cincinnati. She is married to Dr. Stephen Henry, notable trauma orthopedic surgeon and former Lt. Governor of KY, and has two children. They reside in Louisville, KY.
Heather has served as a VOLUNTEER for the foundation since taking on the position with the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs. For many years previous, Mrs. Henry was a VOLUNTEER Executive Director for the foundation. She is one of the largest financial contributors to the foundation and has done hundreds of appearances and presentations on its behalf.
Below is just a small snapshot of appearances and presentations made by Mrs. Henry.