United States Democratic President-elect Barack Obama has not wasted any time in filling in his posts before he transitions into the actual United States President on January 20, 2009. So far, Obama has asked Robert Gates to remain on as the US Secretary of Defense. He had approached Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, his final rival in the Democratic primary, to be the US Secretary of State. He had approached New Mexico Governor and former Democratic rival Bill Richardson to be the Secretary of Commerce. He has eyed Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to be the Secretary of Homeland Security.
Now, Obama has picked a person to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. He had picked retired Army General Eric K. Shinseki to head the VA. Shinseki carries many years of military and war experience. He was the former Army Chief of Staff. Obama made the public announcement on the 67th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.
reflect on the sacrifices that have been made by our veterans and I think about how so many veterans around the country are struggling even more than those who have not served – higher unemployment rates, higher homeless rates, higher substance-abuse rates, medical care that is inadequate – it breaks my heard, and I think that General Shinseki is exactly the right person who is going to be able to make sure that we honor our troops when they come home,” Obama explained in a taped interview.
Shinseki served as the Army Chief of Staff from 1999 until 2003. This is also a historical nomination as well. Shinseki is the first Asian-American in the history of the U.S. to be a four-star general along with leading the United States Army. Shinseki is an alumni of West Point, Duke University, the US Army Command and General Staff College, and the National War College.
He had served in the Vietnam War and the Bosnian War.
Awards include: two Purple Hearts, three Bronze stars, two Legions of Merit, a Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal, an Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, two Army Distinguished Service Medals, a Navy Distinguished Service Medal, and two Defense Distinguished Service Medals.
In the recent years, Shinseki was most notable in clashing with the Bush administration’s approach to the Iraq War. He has notably clashed with then-US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld resigned from office in November of 2006 the day after the Congressional and Governor Elections took place.
So far, Obama has been praised for picking Shinseki. Retired Army General and former US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that Shinseki was a good choice. Overall, Obama is set on picking Shinseki to head the Department of Veterans Affair. However, the nomination needs to be confirmed by the US Senate first.