You could call him “General.” Thousands of Marines did during his 33 years in the Corps. But Chris Cortez, true to his roots – the son of a father who picked fruit in the fields of Northern California, and whose devoted mother could not read or write – does not put on airs. It is not his way.
Calling him Chris is just fine.
His appearance is neat, tidy, spare. His hair and physique are still military style: trim and no-nonsense.
Within minutes of meeting him, you know this isn’t a guy who suffers fools gladly. He’s polite and pleasant, and genuinely likable, but direct and firm in the no-uncertain-terms way of a Marine.
It’s also quickly evident that he is a man with a fierce sense of duty to veterans, and a deep passion for education.
“In the months and years ahead, we’re going to have tens of thousands of veterans leaving the military” because of the troop drawdown in Afghanistan, he said. Getting those vets trained and hired, he said, is simply “critical” to helping them transition back to life post-service.
Now, as Microsoft’s vice president of military affairs, a new position, Cortez will work to expand education and hiring efforts for vets, and be an advocate for new and existing Microsoft employees who have served in the military.
He knows well how difficult the transition can be, going from the military to the private sector. When he retired from the Marine Corps in 2004, Cortez had been leading the Marine Corps Recruiting Command in Quantico, Virginia, recruiting more than 75,000 men and women.