Secretary of Defense Ash Carter today honored Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson with the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award, the department’s highest civilian honor.
Carter presented the award to Johnson, formerly the Pentagon’s top legal official, during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security headquarters where Johnson was hosting a meeting of senior DHS leaders.
“Jeh is one of the finest, most capable, hardest working public servants I have worked with,” Carter said, “From his time as a highly capable general counsel at the Pentagon to his leadership of DHS at a time of enormous homeland security challenges, Jeh has made every organization he’s joined stronger, and made our nation and our world safer.”
The Distinguished Public Service Award is the department’s highest honor for private citizens and non-career public servants. This year, Carter has presented the award to a bipartisan list of distinguished current and former officials, including former secretaries of state Madeline Albright and Henry Kissinger; former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft; and former Sen. John Warner.
“Like Jeh, each of the public servants we have honored this year has a long record of service marked by competence, wisdom and self-sacrifice,” Carter said. “Each of them embodies the very best our nation has to offer.”
As DHS secretary, Johnson leads the federal government’s third-largest department, with 22 components ranging from the U.S. Coast Guard and immigration, customs and border enforcement agencies to the Secret Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Before joining DHS in 2013, Johnson served for three years as general counsel to the Department of Defense, the department’s senior legal official. At DoD, he played a key role in several important initiatives, including the nation’s counter-terrorism efforts and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He served from 1998 to 2001 as general counsel to the Air Force, and from 1989 to 1991 as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. A native New Yorker, he worked in the private sector as an attorney at the firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison.
Release No: NR-372-16
Oct. 19, 2016