Brigadier General John W. Heltzel, Director of Kentucky’s Division of Emergency Management and Deputy Commander; Kentucky National Guard
Brigadier General John W. Heltzel received his Military Commission in the Kentucky National Guard from Eastern Kentucky University in 1979 Graduating with a Degree in Broadcast Communications. General Heltzel served as one of the original State Emergency Operations Center Duty Officers and was instrumental in the establishment of the initial Disaster and Emergency Services Operations Response Procedures Guide.
In 1982, General Heltzel was selected by Mr. Robert Neasham, the first Commissioner of the Department of Information Systems, to be one of 20 state employees to participate in a pilot program to train systems analysts to design and develop information systems for the Commonwealth. In 1984 General Heltzel accepted a full time position working for the Kentucky National Guard as the lead officer in charge of all Automation, Communications, Visual Information and Records Management. During his tenure with the National Guard, Kentucky became recognized as a leader in Information Technology and Communications Systems. General Heltzel has been influential in the development of several Automated Applications that have been nationally adopted.
In 1988, General Heltzel received his Master’s Degree in Public Affairs with an emphasis on Management Information Systems from Kentucky State University.
General Heltzel has served in leadership roles throughout his career; serving as Commander at the Battery, Battalion and Regimental Levels. In 2001, General Heltzel was selected by the Army and the National Guard Bureau as one of two Officers to attend Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. General Heltzel completed course work at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and MIT where he received a Masters Level Certificate in Internal Security Studies. In 2002 General Heltzel completed his studies in Advanced Information Management earning his Certification as a Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) from the National Defense University at Fort McNair. He left active full time service as the Department of Military Affairs Chief Information Officer (CIO) in 2006 to accept a position in the Kentucky National Guard as a General Officer.
In 2007, General Heltzel was selected to serve as the Deputy Commander of Kentucky’s Joint Force Headquarters where he is directly responsible for the training of the Kentucky National Guard in support of the Homeland Security Mission.
After completing his full time assignment with the National Guard in 2006, General Heltzel served as the President and a managing partner with CyberDefenses, Inc; an Information Assurance company located in Round Rock, Texas. In 2007, CyberDefenses, completed the first ever Congressionally funded Full Spectrum Information Vulnerability Assessment (FSIVA) conducted on the nation’s critical infrastructure.
In March 2008, building on years of prior experience with critical exercises, General Heltzel led one of the largest Seismic Exercises ever conducted in the Commonwealth. The CATOPS 08 Exercise was designed to prepare the National Guard, Emergency Management and the Commonwealth for the potential response in the event of an earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Region on Kentucky’s western border. CATOPS 08 successfully integrated the planning and response elements of the Kentucky National Guard, State and County Emergency Management Officials, in addition to FEMA and Homeland Security.
In July 2008, General Heltzel accepted the appointment by Governor Steven L. Beshear to direct the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management. Within his capacity as Director, General Heltzel is responsible for coordinating all resources of State and Federal Government in the event of Natural or Manmade Disasters and Emergencies throughout the Commonwealth. The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management coordinates directly with all Kentucky Division of Emergency Management Area Managers, County Emergency Management Officials and First Responder Teams for Planning, Training, Emergency Operations, Mitigation and Recovery.
With his wife Donna and their two sons, General Heltzel makes his home in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.