James Combs

Board of Directors, National Vice Chair Strategy

  • 5 Star Employer Best Practices for Supporting Guard/Reserve Employees

Jim retired in 2009 as the Commanding General 40th Infantry Division after more than 42 years in uniform. Jim entered active military service in the Army in July 1967. After completing a tour in Vietnam as a Staff Sergeant with the 1st Infantry Division, Jim attended Infantry Officers Course at Ft. Benning Georgia. Jim progressed through various command and staff assignments and was ultimately appointed to Command the California Army National Guard’s 16,000 service members in 2003. In this capacity he was responsible for the deployment of over 7,000 Guard warriors to combat operations.

Jim received a dual hat assignment in 2007 as the Commander of the 40th Infantry Division and Commander Joint Forces Training Base (JFTB) with the primary responsibility of preparing his units for employment as members of joint and combined forces for state and federal missions. During this time, Jim worked closely with Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) to create favorable partnerships with the employers of three Infantry Brigade Combat Teams which saw service in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Since his retirement in 2009, Jim invested his time in nonprofits endeavors to support returning warriors. His effort included working with incarcerated veterans, veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury, as well as facilitating Guard and Reserve transition assistance programs. During this period, he was selected as the “Man of the Year” by City of Los Alamitos and the City of Cypress for his exceptional support to veterans and the military community.

In October 2015, Jim was appointed by the Assistant Secretary of Defense to serve as the State Chairmen for California’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Committee which serves approximately 56,000 Guard and Reserve citizen warriors. Following this 6-year assignment, he was elevated to serve on ESGR’s Board of Directors as Vice Chair Strategy. Jim received DoD’s Exceptional Public Service Award in 2021 for his effectiveness in these volunteer assignments.

Jim’s service awards include the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service, Distinguished Service Medal, 2 Legions of Merit, 2 Bronze Star Medals, “Order of California” from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the “Magnolia Medal” from Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi for exceptionally meritorious service while supporting Guard and Reserve warriors throughout their mobilization cycle.