Marine Vet and Former Brewery President Tapped to Lead VA Mental Health Commission

Marine Vet and Former Brewery President Tapped to Lead VA Mental Health Commission

U.S. Congressman Glenn Grothman (left) discusses veterans issues with Jake Leinenkugel (right) as he presents Grothman with a Veterans Day pin. (Photo: Rep. Glenn Grothman, grothman.house.gov)

Jake Leinenkugel, a former Marine Corps captain whose family founded the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. in Wisconsin, will lead a new commission focused on mental health care programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

President Donald Trump selected Thomas “Jake” Leinenkugel to lead the Creating Options for Veterans' Expedited Recovery (COVER) commission, which will review VA's model for treating mental health conditions.

The commission will review therapy treatment models, conduct a patient survey and ensure VA resources are delivering quality mental health care. The commission will also study alternative forms of treatment, such as horse therapy, music therapy and caring for service dogs.

[Related: VA Expanding New Holistic Health Programs]

Leinenkugel had previously spent 18 months as the VA White House senior adviser.

“Jake has been an ambassador for change at VA, working to implement President Trump's policies throughout the department over the past year and a half,” said Peter O'Rourke, acting VA Secretary on July 24. “As leader of this important new commission, Jake will continue to advocate for better care and services for his fellow veterans.”

Leinenkugel joined the VA in January 2017, after retiring from the family-operated Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company in 2014, where he served as president for 26 years. Leinenkugel is a subsidiary of MillerCoors, an American beer maker in Wisconsin.

In his work with the VA, Leinenkugel is credited with the creation of the department's “Choose VA” branding campaign and helping implement National Veterans and Military Families Month in November.

He has been recognized for his work to promote VA efforts to reduce veteran suicide.

Leinenkugel made headlines earlier this year, as The New York Times and Washington Post accused him of seeking then-VA Secretary David Shulkin's ouster.

The COVER commission was scheduled to hold its first meeting on July 24 and 25.

Amanda Dolasinski is MOAA's staff writer. She can be reached at amandad@moaa.org. Follow her Twitter @AmandaMOAA.