john lira

Marine Corps Veteran

John Lira


Cohort 2

“Before Dog Tag, I was a Marine without a mission.”

Transitioning from the USMC after 11 years of service, Dog Tag Alum John Lira worked two jobs at the US Army Institute of Surgical Research and the Corporation for National and Community Service, where he managed the agency’s veteran and military families outreach. While he enjoyed connecting with other military families, John still felt he was missing something; he wanted to broaden his ability to serve.

John Lira was convinced to join Cohort 2 while attempting to recruit fellow veterans to the federal civil service as part of a Hiring Our Heroes Initiative during his work for the Small Business Administration. When he asked CEO Meghan Ogilvie how he could help with the fellowship, she told him to apply. A devout Catholic, he was inspired by Dog Tag’s origin story and joined the life-changing fellowship. As someone who had focused on program operations both in the Marines and in the government, John was fascinated by how Dog Tag functions. He loved the bakery rotations and enjoyed ironing out the kinks of the program in its early stages––but what surprised him was that the fellowship refined him as well. During Dog Tag's second cohort, John sharpened his networking and communications skills, nurtured his soul in Finding Your Voice, and learned how to be more entrepreneurial in order to supplement his dedication to public service. He also greatly expanded his personal and professional network––he even met his future boss through a Learning Lab presentation. Following graduation, John continued to advance veteran entrepreneurship by serving in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Veterans Business Development. While there, he returned to Dog Tag to facilitate Learning Labs for later cohorts and mentored fellow alumni (including Cohort 4 graduate Sharod Wade). John actively returns to Dog Tag whenever necessary to volunteer for events and meet new Fellows.

Throughout his career, John’s commitment to service has been noticed by others. John led a multi-year research project for the National Commission for Military, National, and Public Service whose final report, Inspire2Serve, was produced in March 2020. The report explains the importance of public service not only through military service, but in other capacities such as AmeriCorps or CityYear. While the regular reporting sessions in Congress were put on halt due to the COVID-19 crisis, John reached out to contacts on the Hill to find an alternative way to share the report. In his current capacity as a HillVets Legislative Leaders Fellow at the United States House of Representatives, John focused on work related to defense, the military, and national service. He is determined to see the Inspired Service Act passed, and has collaborated with both sides of the aisle to advance this goal.

John works on the Hill by day and develops his political aptitude by night. He has been interested in entering the realm of politics for a long time, particularly in his native Texas; In May 2020, he announced his bid to represent Texas’s 23rd Congressional District and is currently on the campaign trail. Although he once called himself a Marine without a mission, John is a budding politician, a community leader, and the embodiment of service.

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