Charlie Cragin is a Senior Government Affairs Counselor for Maine Street Solutions, LLC. He provides strategic government and public affairs planning and execution advice to companies operating in the government sectors at the federal and state levels.
Prior to joining Maine Street Solutions, LLC, Mr. Cragin served as Senior Vice President for National Intelligence, Security and Response at System Planning Corporation (SPC) of Arlington, Virginia. In that capacity he had overall responsibility for the development and operation of SPC’s homeland security business. His organization provided technical, analytical and administrative services to federal, state, and local agencies in various aspects of homeland security including continuity of operations planning; technical seminars on explosive ordnance disposal techniques and equipment; emergency preparedness planning and exercises; data collection; analysis and evaluation of public safety organizations; and after-action review of major homeland security incidents. He joined Maine Street Solutions in 2006 and continued to serve as Senior Advisor to SPC's Chief Executive Officer until July 2012.
In 2010, Mr. Cragin formed Cragin Et Al, a government relations and public affairs consortium composed of individuals who have served in senior positions in federal Executive branch departments and agencies, on personal of professional Congressional staffs, or as elected members of legislative bodies.
In May, 2008 the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs appointed Mr. Cragin as Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans. The committee provided advice to the Secretary on health care and benefits issues confronting veterans who served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the 1990-1991 period of the Gulf War. The committee submitted its final report to the Secretary in September 2009.
Prior to joining SPC in 2003, Mr. Cragin was a partner in the Washington, DC office of Blank Rome, LLP where he concentrated his practice in the fields of federal and state government relations, advocacy within the legislative and executive branches of government, risk management planning and communications, public policy analysis, and public affairs.
From June 1997 until May 2001 Mr. Cragin served in various senior capacities at the Department of Defense including Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, and Acting Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Civil Support. As the Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness he was the Defense Secretary's senior policy advisor on recruitment, career development, and pay and benefits for 1.4 million active duty military personnel, 1.3 million Guard and Reserve personnel and 725,000 DoD civilians. He was also responsible for developing policy guidance on and overseeing the state of our armed forces' military readiness. Additionally, he oversaw the $16 billion Defense Health Program as well as DoD commissaries and exchanges with $5 billion in annual sales, the Defense Education Activity which supports over 100,000 students, and the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, the nation's largest equal opportunity training program.
On behalf of the Secretary of Defense, he investigated and resolved several issues of national significance including the identification and disposition of the Vietnam unknown soldier in the Tomb of the Unknowns; U.S. military involvement in alleged killing of refugees at No Gun Ri, Korea; and the allegation by CNN of nerve gas use during Operation Tailwind in the Vietnam War.
As the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, he was the principal staff assistant to the Secretary of Defense on all matters involving Reserve components of the U.S. Armed Forces. He was responsible for overall supervision of Reserve component affairs of the Department of Defense. In this capacity he was the department’s principal proponent for establishing and deploying Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams (WMDCSTs).
As the Acting Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Civil Support, Mr. Cragin was responsible for overseeing policy relating to the provision of military support to civil authorities in the event of the use of a weapon of mass destruction within the United States. He also represented the Department of Defense within the federal interagency and at the National Security Council. During his tenure at the DoD he was awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service and also received distinguished service awards from the Department of Transportation (U.S. Coast Guard) and the departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force. He also is a recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal presented by the District of Columbia National Guard.
In 1990 Mr. Cragin was nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 1991 as Chairman of the Board of Veterans' Appeals of the Department of Veterans Affairs. In that Assistant Secretary-level position, Mr. Cragin was the chief executive and operating officer of the Board, an organization that decides veterans' appeals of VA claims adjudication actions. As the Board’s Chief Veterans Law Judge, he administered an annual operating budget of $37 million and directed the activities of more than 525 personnel, including veterans law judges, attorneys and support personnel. He is a recipient of the Department of Veterans Affairs Exceptional Service Award.
Mr. Cragin was an attorney and partner in the Portland, Maine law firm of Verrill Dana, LLP for 20 years prior to entering federal service and concentrated in the fields of general litigation, health care law, family law, and government relations. He served as general counsel to the Maine Medical Society and the Maine Hospital Association; as legislative counsel to Maine Blue Cross and Blue Shield; as Maine counsel to the Motion Picture Association of America and the American Psychiatric Association; as general counsel to the Maine Health Facilities Authority and numerous hospitals, hospital administrative districts, and long-term care facilities; and as Maine trial counsel to Pittsburgh Corning Corporation in connection with asbestos-related litigation at Maine shipyards. He also served as general counsel to the Maine Broadcasting System, Maine Automobile Association, and the Maine Innkeepers Association and represented municipal governments, school districts, public utilities and insurance companies.
Mr. Cragin enlisted in the U.S. Navy after graduating from high school in 1961. After leaving active duty in 1964, he affiliated with the U.S. Naval Reserve and served as a Communications Technician First Class. He was commissioned as Ensign in the Navy Reserve in 1968 and retired in 1998 at the rank of Captain following more than 36 years of service. During his military service Mr. Cragin provided public affairs advice to senior civilian and military leaders of the Department of Defense and Department of the Navy. He served as Special Assistant for Public Affairs to the Chief of Naval Operations and, during the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Normandy D-Day landings, served as the principal U.S. military spokesperson at Portsmouth, England. His military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medals, Navy Commendation Medals, Army Commendation Medal and the Navy Expeditionary Medal. He is a Life member of The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Mr. Cragin holds Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Law degrees from the University of Maine. He has served as a member of Maine's Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, as chairman of the board of a long-term care facility, and as chairman of the Governor's Special Commission on Child Abuse and Protective Services. He has been active in politics at the state and federal levels and, in 1982, was the Republican nominee for governor of Maine. He was a member of the Republican National Committee from 1983 through 1990 and served as chairman of the RNC's Budget Committee for many years. In 1988 he was Sergeant-at-Arms of the 1988 Republican National Convention and served as a Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms at the 1992 and 2004 conventions.
Mr. Cragin served for 15 years as a member of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation and was Vice Chairman for several years. He is President of the Senator Margaret Chase Smith Foundation, and a member of the Washington Area Regional Board of AAA Mid-Atlantic. He also served on the U.S. Department of Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) and the U.S. Small Business Administration National Advisory Council. For many years, Mr. Cragin also was a member of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Hospital Attorneys. He is listed in numerous editions of "Who’s Who in America", "Who’s Who in American Law", and "Who’s Who in the East".