CORVALLIS, Ore. - Brigadier Gen. Julie A. Bentz, who advises President Obama on national security issues, will return to her alma mater this June when she delivers the commencement address at Oregon State University.

Bentz, director of strategic capabilities policy on the National Security Staff, is a 1986 graduate of OSU, where she received an ROTC commission and earned a degree in radiological health. She is the first female officer from the Oregon Army National Guard to achieve the rank of general.

"Gen. Bentz has played an integral role in advising the United States about security matters - and especially nuclear defense strategies and implications - since Sept. 11, 2001," said OSU President Edward J. Ray. "Her journey from a small town in Oregon, to Oregon State University, and on to national prominence will provide a compelling message for our graduates."

Bentz grew up in the tiny, unincorporated town of Jordan, Ore., which is near Stayton, and earned a national ROTC scholarship that would have allowed her to attend any of more than 200 universities in the country. She chose Oregon State, and earned her bachelor of science and bachelor of arts degrees in radiological health. She accepted her ROTC commission and was stationed in Landstuhl, Germany.

She later was stationed in San Antonio, Texas, where she worked as a nuclear, biological and chemical officer, training U.S. medical forces during the first Gulf War.

Then she became a missionary, and spent four years in Europe and Africa, while still working as an Army reserve officer.

"The pay I received from my service time was enough to pay for my missionary lifestyle," she told the Oregon Stater magazine in a recent interview.

Bentz earned master's (health physics) and doctoral (nuclear engineering) degrees from the University of Missouri, and another master's degree in national security strategy from the National War College in Washington, D.C. She worked at the Pentagon during the 9-11 attacks, received a Legion of Merit medal for her work on the Homeland Security Council, and recently helped coordinate the U.S. response to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

OSU's 144th commencement ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 15, in Reser Stadium.

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Steve Clark, 541-737-4875