By Jason Lewis
I worked for Senator Hatfield from 1999 to 2001. After he spoke at my school (Multnomah University), I decided he would be a great person to work for given my interest in politics, as well as my Christian faith. How to combine the two was a pressing issue for me.
I wrote him a brief biography of myself and waded into my naive concepts of what government service was about. In my introductory essay I quoted John F. Kennedy Jr. as to his thoughts on how Legislators should have experience outside of government if they wanted to work in it – I should have done my homework.
At our first meeting/interview, he brought this point up then pointed out that by my criteria he would have been excluded from government service. The blush on my face must have been evident, but rather than grind the point in on a young, no-name student, he graciously offered me a job and commenced from that moment on to change my conception of what government service is all about.
As my time with the Senator came to a close the obvious discussion concerning my future arose. The Senator told me I should avoid politics and seek to be involved at some other level. I was then considering a career as an Army Officer. His wise insight into my own life lead me to forego any immediate involvement in public service and to join the Army at the beginning of 2001. Little could I guess that over the next 10 years that the valuable lessons I learned under the tutelage of Senator Mark Hatfield would be applied assisting a variety of actors (Gen. Odieron, Gen. Petraeus, Sen. Libermann etc.) in establishing local government capacity in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I directly attribute many of my successes to the understanding I gained working closely with this great man. I have since left the military and returned to Oregon. I am forever indebted to the time he spent developing me. It is a testament to his character and beliefs that I spent such a short time with him yet now embody much of his thinking concerning how government works and how we should work in it!