SHINSEKI IS OUT AT THE VA: Here Are 12 People Who Could Replace Him

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In this archive photo Lt. Gen. James Mattis, testifies before the Committee on Armed Services during his confirmation hearing for appointment to Commander, United States Joint Forces Command and Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation.
Photo by Chief Petty Officer Shawn P. Eklund

President Barack Obama today accepted the resignation of embattled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.


It was an unfortunate end to a remarkable career of public service that lasted roughly half a century.

Shinseki’s departure comes amid widespread charges of corruption and ineptitude at VA hospitals across the country. And it leaves a glaring question --- who is next to lead the VA?

There’s no doubt the VA needs help, so who could take the reigns from Shinseki and provide the organization with the leadership it needs to serve the nation’s veterans? We compiled a shortlist:

1. Jim Webb

The Marine and former Navy Cross recipient from the Vietnam War has been a prominent figure in veterans affairs for 40 years. He served as secretary of the navy under President Reagan and most recently as a U.S. senator from Virginia, where he was the architect of the G.I. Bill for post-9/11 veterans. His son is also a veteran of the war in Iraq. He’s been successful in basically everything he’s ever done, and all of that has been geared toward helping veterans. He’s just the kind of no-nonsense leader the VA needs, if he isn't set on running for president...

2. Stan McChrystal

A retired Army four-star general who last commanded coalition forces in Afghanistan, McChrystal knows first hand the costs of the last 13 years of war. Though he fell out with the Obama administration after a scathing Rolling Stone article, he later partnered with the president to help run Joining Forces, the president’s initiative for military families. McChrystal has been a transformative leader and revolutionized the way Joint Special Operations Command worked with other government agencies. If he could do something similar at the VA, he could be the perfect man for the job.

3. Tammy Duckworth

A wounded veteran of the Iraq War who now represents Illinois’ 8th congressional district as a democrat, Duckworth represents the very veterans that need the VA the most. She also has direct experience working for the VA, both as the director for the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, and later in Washington as assistant secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs.

4. Mike Mullen

Mullen last served as the president’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and in doing so, was the president’s chief uniformed military adviser. After retiring from 43 years in uniform, Mullen has turned his attention to the private sector, serving on the board of General Motors and other corporations. He has the name recognition and authority and experience to lead the VA.

5. Max Cleland

Cleland currently serves as secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission, and in doing so, is a prominent public official in the veterans community. He is a former democratic senator from Georgia, the only democrat to ever serve a full term in the senate. A decorated Vietnam veteran, Cleland is also a wounded warrior, having lost both legs from a grenade blast in Vietnam.

6. James Mattis

No list of prominent veteran leaders is complete without retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis, who last served as the head of U.S. Central Command. Since his retirement, he has been an outspoken proponent of veterans issues, including recently railing against the perception of veterans as victims. In addition to being a legendary leader, Mattis would be an absolute icon at the head of the VA.

7. Paul Rieckhoff

As the executive director and founder of Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America, Rieckhoff is a prominent voice in support of modern veterans. He’d be an intriguing figure to launch the VA from obscurity and give it a face for the 21st century.

8. Patrick Murphy

An Iraq War veteran and attorney, Murphy was the first veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan to serve in Congress, representing Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district from 2006 through 2011. President Obama appointed him to the U.S. military academy’s board of advisors in 2011. He currently hosts an occasional program on MSNBC called “Taking the Hill.” He’s a pioneer for modern veterans and has the legislative and leadership experience the VA needs.

9. Holly Petraeus

The wife to retired general and former CIA director David Petraeus, Holly Petraeus has been a part of the military community her entire life. Her father, Gen. William Knowlton, was the superintendent of West Point while David Petraeus was enrolled there. In 2011, she joined the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to lead the Office of Servicemember Affairs.

10. Tommy Sowers

The former special forces soldier just left a leadership position at the VA where he served as assistant secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. He holds a doctorate in economics from the London School of Economics. He was the Democratic nominee for Congress in 2010 for Missouri’s 8th congressional district. He deployed twice to Iraq. A young, modern veteran, he also has the knowledge of VA infrastructure and the energy to transform the institution.

11. Bob Kerrey

Kerrey is a former Navy Seal, a Medal of Honor recipient, a longtime senator from the state of Nebraska, and most recently the president of the New School in New York City. He has the leadership, the experience, the resume, and the know how to lead the VA under the very difficult circumstances it currently faces.

12. Tulsi Gabbard

Gabbard, a Democrat representing Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district, is a rising star in the military community and the Democratic party. She is a member of the Hawaii National Guard and deployed twice to the Middle East, including a 12-month tour with a medical unit in Iraq, where she worked with many of the injuries the VA deals with on a daily basis.

In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."

A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.

In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.

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Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.

In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.

A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.

The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.

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Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Verizon committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace. Verizon is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn More.

Verizon values leadership, motivation, self-discipline, and hard work — all characteristics that veterans bring to the table. Sometimes, however, veterans struggle with the transition back into the civilian workplace. They may need guidance on interview skills and resume writing, for example.

By participating in the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program and developing internal programs to help veterans find their place, Verizon continues its support of the military community and produces exceptional leaders.

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Islamic State's media network on Monday issued an audio message purporting to come from its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi saying operations were taking place daily and urging freedom for women jailed in Iraq and Syria over their alleged links to the group.

"Daily operations are underway on different fronts," he said in the 30-minute tape published by the Al Furqan network, in what would be his first message since April. He cited several regions such as Mali and the Levant but gave no dates.

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(DoD photo)

A U.S. service member was killed in Afghanistan on Monday, defense officials have announced.

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