BERLIN – A local hero and Stephen Decatur High School graduate who has risen to some of the highest ranks in the U.S. Department of Defense added another feather to his impressive cap last week.
Decatur graduate Robert Hastings was inducted into the Defense Information School (DINOS) Hall of Fame at a special ceremony at Fort Meade last Wednesday. Hastings, a decorated veteran, has spent the last 40 years of his life in a multi-faceted career in military leadership, corporate leadership and public service.
As executive vice president for Bell, formerly Bell Helicopter, Hastings currently leads all aspects of the company’s global marketing and strategic communications programs. Prior to joining Bell, Hastings was appointed by President George W. Bush as assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. Under the Bush administration, Hastings was the chief communications officer, senior public affairs official and spokesman for the Department of Defense.
Hastings was also the principal advisor for the secretary of defense and senior administration official for strategic communication, public information, and internal information, leading a worldwide public affairs community of over 4,000 military and civilian personnel. He was the driving force in the development of the U.S. government’s strategic communications concept of operations.
Hastings is a former U.S. Army officer with more than 40 years of combined federal and state military experience. His Army assignments included command tours in aviation and cavalry with operational duty in Germany, Eastern Europe, Central America, Iraq, and Bosnia.
He remains in active service as a brigadier general with the Texas State Guard and currently commands a regional brigade responsible for disaster response, homeland security and defense support to civil authorities. As an Army public affairs officer, he served as deputy corps public affairs officer, DINOS instructor, and public affairs officer on numerous operational missions.
For his many accomplishments, Hastings has been well-decorated. In addition to his induction into the DINOS Hall of Fame last week, his other honors include the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal, a Distinguished Alumni by the University of Maryland and the Public Relations Society of America Lloyd B. Dennis Distinguished Leadership Award, among others.
At his induction ceremony last week Hastings fondly remembered the men and women, military and civilian, with whom he has had and continues to have the pleasure of serving.
“As I focus on the moments that stand out to me over the last 40 years, the things that I recall the most are the people who I had the honor and privilege of serving alongside,” he said at the induction ceremony. “We must not forget that at any point, regardless of our stature, we have the power to influence the trajectory of people’s lives.”
At the induction ceremony, Hastings offered sound advice to those with whom he has worked over the decades and those just beginning careers.
“Leadership is not a rank or a title, it is a privilege,” he said. “Always put people first and you’ll find that instead of working with a group of high-performing individuals, you’ll get to work as part of a high-performing team.”
DINOS trains U.S. military, Department of Defense civilians, international military and interagency students in public affairs, journalism, photography, video production, broadcast equipment maintenance, graphic design and digital media, among other skills.