Though she entered the working world as a certified public accountant in Colorado, Sheila Casey is most recognized for her role as Chief Operating Officer of The Hill and her work on behalf of military families. “Life is about juggling and making delicate choices that have no right or wrong answers. It’s impractical to believe you can have it all or always be right. If you are comfortable in your own skin and believe you’re making the right choice, it just gets done,” she said simply. “And,” she adds, “No decision is fatal!”
While Casey has devoted a significant amount of time to pursuing her own career and working on behalf of America’s military families, she continues that her “life is not just about work. My family and my relationships with my friends and family are a source of my greatest joy.”
Life as a Military Spouse
Casey estimates she moved about 25 times across the globe as her husband, George, advanced in his military career. The constant moves were challenging. “I was able transfer to different offices for the same company and I also relied on my network to introduce me to potential employers in my new city,” she said.
Casey believes “military spouses face a unique set of challenges, but they should get out there and persevere! Many jobs in today’s market can be remote, and military spouses have strong skillsets to offer.”
After her husband became Chief of Staff of the US Army in 2007, she spent the first “100 days travelling with George. George was uniquely positioned to make changes and influence policy based on what we learned, so I spent significant time with soldiers, spouses and survivors to learn about their needs and discover how we could best aid and support them.”
Casey used her role as a platform to reach out to military spouses and help them acclimate, survive and excel in their role. She notes that the military is a microcosm of the civilian world and that the “day to day issues facing military spouses are very similar to those civilians face. Military spouses, though, have to deal with the continued deployment of their partner, knowing that their spouse is living with a very real, present danger,” she said, sharing the advice she has told many military spouses.
“I realized early on I couldn’t live life through my husband,” Casey said. I didn’t want all my happiness to be derived from him. Every spouse needs something of their own- something that they love, but that has nothing to do with the Army. One day your spouse will retire, and the military part of your life will end. Your passion can continue.”
Casey continued, “Caretakers tend to take care of themselves last. Putting yourself first is not selfish. It is survival. If you don’t take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually, you will not have the strength to take care of your family or accomplish other things.”
In addition to representing our country before her counterparts when her husband would meet with military leaders across the world, Casey became the first wife of a chief of staff to testify in front of Congress. She embraces being known for her work on behalf of military families and is pleased that her personal brand was built organically.
While Casey was excelling in her “unpaid” role working with on behalf of military families, she was also fulfilling her responsibilities as the Chief Operating Officer of The Hill, a newspaper that reports on Congress. In fact, during this time the paper and its staff “grew exponentially.”
“The 24 hour news cycle forces us to keep our readers engaged so we need to keep our site live through blogs and social media. While we don’t publish on the weekends, we have people on duty and some folks basically working around the clock,” she said, noting the paper that had once been published only once a week.
During Casey’s tenure, The Hill went from a weekly publication to being published three times a week, then four times a week, and now every day that Congress is in session. Today it boasts the largest circulation on Capitol Hill. Casey passes along the advice that was given to her when she first started working at The Hill, “Be open to listening. Feel the excitement going on the newsroom- there is a lot going on and a lot to learn just by being present.”
“Concentrate on developing your passion,” Casey concludes. “Some of success is luck, but you really make your own breaks. Find something you love and work as hard as you can. The rest will fall into place. Everything won’t be perfect all of the time and there will be twists and turns along the way. But, your passion will shine through and you will find success.”
Sheila Casey is the Chief Operation Officer of The Hill, and the wife of General George Casey, Jr., the former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army (2007-2011).