Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced this week that Major General H. Michael Edwards, Colorado's Adjutant General, will retire effective March 31, 2017, upon reaching his mandatory retirement date.
"For the last 43 years, our entire nation has benefitted from the distinguished and noble service of Major General H. Michael Edwards," said Hickenlooper. "Coloradans will long remember him as one of the most accomplished adjutants general in our state's history. Veterans across our state will long benefit from his tireless efforts to serve those who have served. General Edwards represents the best of the National Guard and our military, and we are forever grateful for his service to Colorado and our country."
"It's truly been a privilege to serve the dedicated Citizen-Soldiers and Citizen-Airmen in the Colorado National Guard. My wife Laury and I also want to express our sincere appreciation for the wonderful opportunity to assist the people of the great state of Colorado," said Edwards.
Edwards has served as the Adjutant General of Colorado since 2007, serving as the state's top military commander. As commander of the Colorado National Guard (CONG), Edwards has been responsible for the administration of more than 5,300 Colorado Army and Air National Guard members conducting both state and federal missions. The National Guard is the first military responder during domestic emergencies and, as the U.S. Army's and U.S. Air Force's combat reserve, deploys overseas in support of the war fight.
A member of the governor's cabinet, Edwards has simultaneously served as Adjutant General and the Executive Director of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), which provides guidance and support to several divisions including the Division of Veterans Affairs. As executive director of the DMVA, Edwards protected the Veterans Trust Fund from dissolution during the economic downturn while ensuring repayment, and the DMVA was given responsibility to administer the Veterans Assistance Grant program, adding a second critical grant stream to help veterans. Under Edwards, reimbursements for county Veterans Service Officers rose from slightly over $1 per hour to above minimum wage, creating more access for veterans needing assistance in filing for federal claims.
He has also been responsible for supporting the missions of the Civil Air Patrol's Colorado Wing (CAP), consisting of more than 1,600 volunteers.
Edwards was raised in Lyman, Neb., and graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant on June 6, 1973. A command pilot with more than 4,600 military flight hours, including 135 combat hours, he has flown the A-7, AT-38, C-21, F-4, F-16, T-37 and T-38 aircraft.
During Edwards' tenure as adjutant general, more than 6,000 CONG Citizen-Soldiers and Citizen-Airmen have mobilized in support of overseas contingency operations. He also oversaw the National Guard's record-setting response to some of the worst natural disasters impacting Colorado, including the High Park Fire and the Waldo Canyon Fire during 2012, followed by the Black Forest Fire and historic flooding along the Colorado Front Range in 2013.
Additionally, Edwards was instrumental in bringing a new National Guard cyber protection team to Colorado, bolstering the state's cyber defenses. He also diversified the CONG through the appointment of its first female general officers.
Over a period of ten years, Edwards significantly grew the CONG's enduring relationships with the Republic of Slovenia and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan under the National Guard's State Partnership Program. The military-to-military exchanges have supported Combatant Command security cooperation objectives, promoted regional stability, and increased partner capacity and interoperability.
Under Edwards' leadership, the CAP took on a bigger role in state response, flying fire watch and conducting flood damage surveys. Colorado's CAP was first to fly support of the U.S. Army's on-base unmanned aerial systems operations.
Edwards and his wife Laury plan to retire in Colorado.
A search for Edwards' replacement is underway in the Governor's office. By Colorado statute, only current commissioned officers of the Colorado National Guard, who hold a minimum rank of lieutenant colonel for at least one year prior to appointment, and who have served in the Colorado National Guard for at least five years with no less than ten years of military service are eligible to apply. The adjutant general is appointed by the governor.