Truman National Security Project

Defense Council


The Defense Council is an extremely competitive leadership development program for leaders who honorably served in the military and defense communities. As opinion leaders nationally and in their communities, graduates are building a nationwide community of national security leaders who understand what it means to serve at home and abroad.

Candidates are selected for the program based on their desire and ability to influence policy, politics, and public opinion. They must demonstrate potential for ongoing public leadership, share Truman Project values, and desire to engage in our community for the long-haul, throughout their professional lives.

“The Truman National Security Project is serving on the front lines of the battle to retake National Security as a positive platform issue for [us]. … the Truman National Security Project has given progressives the tools and voice we need to lead the country towards a future of both military and diplomatic strength.” — Jason Cain

“The Defense Council has helped me tremendously, both professionally and personally, providing me with clarity and a vision of a brighter future. Truman National Security Project is a network of smart and sophisticated people leading the progressive movement.  I often rely on fellow members and staff of the Truman Project for expertise and guidance.  It is an honor to be working alongside military veterans and civilians with integrity, humility, and the drive to lead this country in the right direction.” – Won Palisoul

“The Truman National Security Project is one of the most influential organizations empowering veterans to effectively advance a strong progressive national security policy. The communication and media training provided to the Veteran Leadership Academy  has increased  our security policy knowledge, and built skills to enable us to work together to affect change nationally and locally.” — Anthony Robinson


Once selected as a Defense Council Member, participants are offered regular opportunities to not only bolster their national security credentials, but to build their network and engage with the entirety of the greater Truman Project Membership Community.

Orientation. Mandatory for all new Defense Council Members, a three-day orientation includes a national security simulation, security-focused speaking training, values-based communication strategies, political and policy training.

Curriculum. An elite and practical curriculum designed to equip Defense Council Members with a strong understanding of America’s national security apparatus, how to communicate security issues to voters and understanding how Truman values apply to everyday leadership and public service.  The Defense Council curriculum contains three major modules:


  • Organizing 101
  • Fundraising 
  • Campaign Management

National Security Strategic Communications

  • Mastering Fear-in-Political Communications
  • Developing a Strong Media Profile
  • On-camera training
  • Public speaking

Policy and Values

  • Leadership in the 21st Century
  • Living Your Values in Public Service
  • Entrepreneurship

Annual Conference. Defense Council Members are strongly encouraged to attend the annual Truman Membership Conference in Washington, D.C. Held in the Spring, the conference features military, policy and political leaders, interactive training sessions, simulations, and expertise-based break-out sessions devoted to shaping policies and advancing change.

Quarterly continuing education. Defense Council Members are asked to attend quarterly online policy and communications trainings on relevant issues.

Truman Chapter & Regional Events. Defense Council Members are encouraged to become active members of Truman Chapters in our nine Chapter cities across the country. Chapters work locally to advocate in the media, learn from each other and outside experts, and build a strong Truman community. We ask that Defense Council Members attend at least two events with other Truman community members per year, such as a speech, happy hour, fundraiser, or educational event.

Membership Access. Defense Council Members also receive other benefits of engagement in the Truman Project, such as email list engagement, access to staff expertise and membership lists, Truman Project lapel pins, and ability to publish with a Truman by-line when approved.