James Tongate

Vice President, Government & Military Relations

  • Rank Bias: The Misguided Preference for Officers and Higher Ranks – and How Your Organization Can Capitalize by Finding Great Enlisted Talent

James Tongate oversees all BeneLynk government relation functions with government entities, military veteran service organizations, and clients. James partners with stakeholders throughout processes to ensure alignment and mitigate issues that inhibit improved health outcomes for the veteran member population.

Previously, James served as Marsh and McLennan Companies’ Senior Human Resources Military Affairs Program Leader where he created, executed, led and cultivated an unprecedented diverse military veteran talent program. James strategically leveraged key stakeholders, human resource functions, technology, and processes relating to the design, implementation, and integration of diverse human capital dogmas through business actions. He is considered a national subject matter expert in the veteran talent space through consult and engagement in several national panels/forums including the Veteran Jobs Mission, the American Legion and at Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) sponsored events. James’ efforts were nationally recognized as MMC was named #1 Military Friendly® Employer in the U.S. for 2017 and #3 in 2018.

Prior to Marsh & McLennan Companies, James served at Humana over 17 years as a successful business leader in various functions to include the HR Program Leader for Humana’s Veteran & Military Spouse Hiring Program. He solidified the national award-winning program through sourcing, innovation, and implementation of outreach strategies recruiting National Guard, Reservists, Military Retirees, Wounded Warriors, Transitioning Veterans and Military Spouses. James’ efforts were crucial to Humana being recognized as of the TOP 10 US Military Friendly® Employers still today.

Currently, James also proudly serves as the tenth State Command Chief Master Sergeant for the Kentucky National Guard. Chief Tongate is the key advisor to Kentucky’s Adjutant General and his staff on all matters influencing mission readiness, training, promotion, retention, professional development, utilization, health, morale, welfare, and assignment policy affecting the entire enlisted Airmen and their families. Prior to this role, James served as the Human Resource Advisor and was a C-130H Tactical Loadmaster with three combat tours to Afghanistan along with many other global operations earning him four commendation medals. James initially began his service in 1986–1991 with the active-duty US Air Force, then served in the KY Army National Guard as a Military Intelligence Analyst before transferring into the KY Air National Guard in December 1997 where remains today.

James has been married over 27 years with 3 adult children and 2 grandchildren.