Jason served in the WI Army National Guard and United States Army Reserves from 1994-2002. In February 2003, his Army National Guard unit, the 229th Combat Support Engineers, were mobilized for service in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He voluntarily left his civilian life and re-enlisted to join them during their combat tour with the 4th Infantry Division from 2003-04.
Johns’ unit base camped outside of Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit and ran convoy missions, force protection assignments, roadside checkpoints, IED sweep and detection missions, forward operating base establishment and build -ups, as well as infantry and MP patrol support. Their area of operation spanned the Sunni insurgent enclaves of Tikrit, Samarra, Balad, Baqubah and at times over to the mountainous region bordering Iran in the east. On the morning of 26 Oct 2003, while assuming control of a checkpoint north of Samarra, Johns and a fellow squad member were wounded by the detonation of an anti-tank land mine planted by enemy forces. Johns was sent to a field hospital for the blast but was able to remain in country and after adequate recovery time at base camp he completed his tour of duty in April 2004, earning a Purple Heart, Combat Action Badge, Army Commendation Medal, War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal and the Armed Forces Reserves Medal with an “M” for meritorious service.
Johns earned his B.A. in History from the University of Northern Iowa in May 1998 where he was an active player on the UNI Men’s Rugby Team. He then went on to earn his Juris Doctorate with an international law certificate from Hamline University School of Law in May 2001. After completing his education, he practiced law in Washington, D.C. before returning home to Wisconsin to pursue an opportunity working in the Wisconsin State Legislature in December 2002.
Johns served as the Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs having been appointed to that post by Governor Scott Walker in August 2011. Due to the severely premature birth of his son, Jason resigned this post in July 2012 and returned to the private sector. Since that time, he started his own lobbying firm (Wisconsin Legislative Strategies) where he represents his clients in the Wisconsin State Legislature and agencies, as well as in the U.S. Congress and federal agencies.
But what Johns is most proud of is the veterans’ advocacy group he formed in 2014, N.M.L.B. Veterans Advocacy Group. Through this firm he represents his fellow veterans with their appeals to the VA’s Board of Veterans Appeals and in front of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in D.C.
Johns’ volunteer service to his fellow veterans includes, but is not limited to:
- National Senior Vice-Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, U.S.A. (MOPH)
- National Judge Advocate of the MOPH
- State Legislative Officer for the MOPH-Department of WI
- State Legislative Committee for the VFW of WI (both positions involve Jason representing the MOPH and VFW with their legislative efforts pro-bono)
- MOPH National Deputy Legislative Director
- MOPH of WI Junior Vice-Commander
- VFW National Homeland Security and Defense Committee
- Commander of VFW Post 10272
- S. Global Leadership Coalition’s Veterans For Smart Power National Leadership Council
- Advisory Council for the University of Wisconsin Veterans Legal Clinic
- Advisor to USAID’s Iraq Access to Justice Program
- S. Military Academy Nominee Selection Board for U.S. Congressman Mark Pocan
- Board of Directors for Camp Ryan Adams
- Senior Associate with the Wounded Warriors In Action Foundation
- Fundraising and Marketing Committee for Fisher House of Wisconsin
Johns was elected in a landslide in June 2018 as the first-ever Post 9/11 State Junior Vice-Commander for the VFW-Department of Wisconsin. He will move into the State Commander position for 2020-21, again the first ever Post 9/11 veteran to hold the position.
Click here to see Johns’ Keynote and Workshop.