Current Position: Student, Yale Law School
Past: U.S. Marine Corps
Education: University of Notre Dame
Captain Joe Falvey completed two tours in Afghanistan during his five years with the U.S. Marine Corps. His background and knowledge made him a great fit for the 2014 Hertog seminar on “Lessons of the Iraq War,” led by Vance Serchuk, a former senior national security advisor to Senator Joseph Lieberman. Joe is now studying at Yale Law School and hopes to work in government after graduation.
HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT THE ADVANCED INSTITUTE?
My younger brother [Michael Falvey] participated in the Political Studies Program so I first heard about the Foundation from him. Then, the Yale Law Veterans group sent out an email to our incoming class and let us know about the Advanced Institutes. “The Lessons of the Iraq War” seemed like a great opportunity, especially for people coming from the military.
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR CAREER PATH. HOW DID THE INSTITUTE FIT IN TO YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS?
During tours for the Marines in Afghanistan, I gained a lot of very specific on-the-ground knowledge about America’s war strategy and plans. But the Institute gave me the opportunity to step back, look at the big picture, and think about the decisions on a presidential or strategic level that impact the guys on the ground.
The viewpoints of the instructor, Vance Serchuk, introduced an interesting take on what’s happening in our government and how it relates to our foreign policy and military. He shared his first-hand experience about how the different branches of government are interacting, how we’re driving the war effort, and how we’re changing our strategy. In the future, as a lawyer I’m interested in working in government so Vance’s perspective was extremely valuable.
WHAT STICKS OUT IN YOUR MEMORY ABOUT YOUR EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE WITH HERTOG?
One of the best intellectual benefits was the broadness of the views that were shared. We not only had world-class speakers from the American side of things like General [David] Petraeus and Senator [John] McCain, but also had the opportunity to interact with people like Professor Bilal Wahab from the American University in Iraq. Hearing Professor Wahab’s take on the war as a Kurdish citizen was fascinating, and he’s someone I never would have come across if not for Hertog.
The students included both people going into military and those involved in nonprofit and private sector work. The breadth of the experiences present in the classroom was extremely vital to the success of the course. It’s always great to get people together who won’t necessarily agree on everything. My peers challenged my assumptions, and hopefully, I challenged some of theirs.
OVERALL, WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESSION OF THE ADVANCED INSTITUTE?
I had a great experience; everything was very professional, very organized. Most of all, the course was brimming with ideas. Vance not only had personal knowledge of the events and the major decisions of the Iraq War, but he also had the desire and the ability to teach us. He put in an incredible amount of effort, and it definitely showed in how well the Institute ran.
DO YOU THINK THE ADVANCED INSTITUTES ARE BENEFICIAL FOR YOUNG PEOPLE INTERESTED IN PUBLIC SERVICE?
Absolutely. The military is a subject that society at large doesn’t have a ton of knowledge about. There’s something of a civilian-military divide where it’s hard for civilians to glean information about the inner workings of the military, and colleges increasingly don’t offer comprehensive classes on the military or military history. So an Institute like that where you’re taking a very deep dive and exploring the detailed history of a specific event like the Iraq War is essential. Without looking at those hard facts, we don’t have the information we need to make good decisions as a country.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS?
My interests include government and foreign policy, but I mostly just hope that whatever job I get will allow me to serve the country. Service is what drew me to the military, and I hope to find work that enables me to continue doing that.