Monday, December 8, 2008

General Eric Shinseki nominated as United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Update: video)

President-elect Barack Obama today announced General Eric Shinseki as his selection to be United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

During the press conference, President-elect Obama praised General Shinseki's service to his country, and reinforced the importance of the sacred trust between America and her troops.

General Shinseki is the first Asian American to reach the rank of four-star general. He served two combat tours in Vietnam, where he was wounded in action.

On the anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941, President-elect Obama stressed the importance of the post General Shinseki would hold.

"We owe it to all our veterans to honor them as we honored our Greatest Generation," the President-elect said. "Not just with words, but with deeds."

General Shinseki's appointment has garnered the support and praise of veterans' organizations.

National President of Vietnam Veterans of America John Rowan called the selection "a promising choice."

Veterans for Common Sense released a statement in "strong" support of Shinseki.

The statement read: "In February 2003, General Shinseki honestly and correctly assessed our nation's military needs before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. This same level of candor and honesty will serve President-elect Obama well so he can quickly and accurately identify VA's many challenges and then implement responsible solutions that take into consideration our veterans' needs and concerns."

Bipartisan members of Congress have weighed in positively on the selection. On the "Fox News Sunday" program, Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama called Shinseki "a great soldier, a great leader." Referring to Shinseki's recommendations to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in a 2003 assessment of the American military involvement in Iraq, Sen. Shelby said, "we should have listened to [Gen. Shinseki]... We didn't and look where we are today."

On the same program, Democratic Senator Carl Levin said that the selection shows that the President-elect "will welcome people who disagree with him to express those views to him."

In a release from his office, Sen. Patrick Leahy praised the selection, saying, "throughout a stellar career, especially in his time as the Army's Chief of Staff, [Shinseki's] words and deeds reflected an overwhelming care about soldiers and all of our military service members."

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