Gary R. Harter, Executive Director, Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs
Gary is the Executive Director of Utah's Department of Veterans and Military Affairs, charged with providing service to veterans, military and their families and implementing the vision of having Utah recognized as a great place for veterans, military and their families to live and succeed. The department coordinates with state agencies, departments and organizations that support military veterans to ensure the delivery of services are responsive, well planned and effectively implemented. The department coordinates the governor's efforts to develop and grow jobs through the military economy and serves as a liaison to the leadership of Utah's military installations, defense businesses, and military groups.
Prior to Gary's current duties, he worked in the Governor's Office of Economic Development as the Managing Director for the Business Outreach and International Trade Team. He oversaw the Utah Clusters Initiative, assisting the growth of promising industry sectors in Utah; the International Trade & Diplomacy Office, assisting Utah companies in succeeding in international trade; the Office of Rural Development, focused on increasing economic development in Utah's rural areas; the Technology Commercialization & Innovation, and the State Science Office. Gary originally joined the office as the Defense and Homeland Security Cluster Director, working closely with military leaders and installations across Utah and with the defense industry.
Gary is a retired Army Colonel who spent 25 years on active duty, leaving service in October 2005. He served in command and staff positions from platoon to division to joint command throughout the United States and in Germany. Gary's final assignment was as Commander, U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground, where, for three years, he oversaw the testing of chemical and biological defense equipment and operations of the installation, led 1,500 military, Department of Defense civilians and contractors, and was responsible for an operating budget in excess of $220 million annually. Gary previously served at U.S. Joint Forces Command, Norfolk Naval Base, Norfolk, Virginia, where he oversaw military support to civil authorities for severe weather, wildfires, the 2002 Winter Olympics and many others. As a Lieutenant Colonel, Gary commanded the 84th Chemical Battalion, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Gary is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelors of Science in Biology and the National Defense University with a Masters of Science in National Resource Strategy.
Gary is an Eagle Scout, Vigil member of the Order of the Arrow, member of the American Legion, the Utah Defense Alliance and the Military Installation Development Authority. He received the Governor's Medal for Science and Technology in 2012 for his work to grow the advanced composites industry in Utah.
Gary grew up in Pennsylvania and his wife Trudi grew up in Wisconsin. They now call Midway, Utah, their home, where they live with their two children and several pets. Gary is an avid Dallas Cowboy and Philadelphia Phillies fan, acts in local community theater productions and he and his family enjoy travelling and exploring new places, which they got ample opportunity to do by moving so often during his military career.