"I am proud to be a Kentuckian. It's important for me to educate my daughters about the history of our Commonwealth. I engage them daily in discussions about what patriotism and public service mean to me. As the daughter of a veteran who fought for this nation, it is my desire to honor the sacrifice of our military veterans by educating younger generations about the price of freedom."
--Heather French Henry
photo by John Nation
Meet Heather French Henry
Heather French Henry has been a local, state and national advocate for military veterans and their families for over 20 years. She has served both Governor Beshear and Governor Bevin as the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, serving over 300,000 veterans in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Her role in the department provided oversight for nearly 900 employees serving in four state veterans nursing centers, five state veterans cemeteries, statewide veterans benefits and programs that served both homeless and female veterans. Her responsibilities included developing legislative policy for the department and assisting with the overall strategy for the department's budget of nearly $100 million.
Her love of the military came from her admiration for her father, Ronnie French--a disabled Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War. Heather took her family's experiences with her father's healthcare and military issues nationwide to develop partnerships with federal government agencies and local community service organizations. During her year of service as Miss America 2000, Heather worked in the halls of Congress, held strategic meetings with the White House, and visited veterans in hospitals, homeless shelters and veteran service organizations across the nation. Her work with homeless veterans was honored by the late Congressman Lane Evans and the late Senator Paul Wellstone with the naming of the Heather French Henry Homeless Veterans Assistance Act.
While Heather continued to work nationally, Governor Beshear appointed her Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, a position that allowed her to focus on Kentucky’s veterans. Under her leadership, the department maintained its budget, fully developed it's women veterans program, restructured the homeless veterans program, and continued with the construction of a new veterans nursing center and a state veterans cemetery. At the transition of the administration, Governor Matthew Bevin requested that Heather maintain her work with the KDVA as the Deputy Commissioner to continue her work for Kentucky's veterans. As Deputy Commissioner, she oversaw the completion of two facilities and conducted strategic planning for staffing issues with the Personnel Cabinet. In addition, she created a shared database experience with highly sensitive information regarding veteran and military records with the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Heather is from Maysville and Augusta, Kentucky. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art & Planning. She is married to Dr. Stephen L. Henry––former Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky. They have two daughters, Harper Renee and Taylor Augusta. Together, the Henry’s founded the Kentucky Prostate Cancer Coalition, which provide free prostate cancer screenings at the KY State Fair. They established the Rosemary Clooney Museum in Augusta, Kentucky, featuring the famous White Christmas Collection. In addition, Heather assists with the Future Fund Land Trust in its effort to save Floyd’s Fork in Jefferson and Bullitt Counties. The family resides in Louisville, Kentucky.
photo by John Nation
CURRENT CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS
Future Fund Endowment - Board Member
Kentucky Prostate Cancer Coalition - Board Member
Rosemary Clooney Museum - President
Sullivan University Student Veterans Organization - Board Member
Woman's Club of Louisville - Member
Daughters of the American Revolution
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS - edited list
Chuck Mattingly Veterans Legislative Award - American Legion State of KY 2017
Silver Helmet Award - AMVETS 2016
EEO Employment Diversity Award 2015
USA CARES - Patriot Award 2013
Most Admired Woman - Todays Magazine 2012
Martha Washington Spirit Award - Ladies Auxiliary Medal Military Order of the Purple Heart 2004
Bronze Medal - Chapel of the Four Chaplains 2002
Heather French Henry Homeless Veterans Assistance Act 2001 - Federal Bipartisan Legislation focusing on the eradication of homelessness among veterans nationwide.
Ten Outstanding Young Americans - American Jaycees 2001
Gold Merit Award - VFW 2001
Public Spirit Award - American Legion Ladies Auxiliary 2000
Public Relations Award - American Legion 2000
Americanism Award - VFW 2000
Humanitarian Award - AMVETS 2000
American Patriot Award - NCOA (National Non-Commissioned Officers Association)
Advocate of the Year - NCHV (National Coalition for Homeless Veterans)
Woman of Achievement Award - Miss America Scholarship Organization 2000
Medal of Honor - National Daughters of the American Revolution 2000