Monday, December 08, 2008

Shinseki Tapped As Veterans Affairs Chief

General Eric Shinseki, who defied former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the Bush administration by giving Congress the truth about the level of troop strength that would be needed to secure Iraq after the initial invasion -- and was quickly fired for doing so -- was announced by Barack Obama on Sunday as the president-elect's choice to head the Veterans Affairs Department.

"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 said yesterday adding that no Americans "will ever doubt, that this former Army Chief of Staff has the courage to stand up for our troops and our Veterans."

Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America -- along with the Veteran writing this blog post -- agrees that Shinseki has demonstrated a lifetime of commitment to America and to the nation's military men, women and families and is the right guy for the job.

"General Shinseki has a record of courage and honesty, and is a bold choice to lead the VA into the future," said Rieckhoff. "He is a man that has always put patriotism ahead of politics, and is held in high regard by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan."

The 66-year-old Shinseki is a highly-decorated Vietnam Veteran who was ridiculed and ultimately forced into retirement by Rumsfeld and his chief henchman, Paul Wolfowitz, for saying before Congress in 2003 that the Bush administration was way off base in the number of ground troops it would take to secure Iraq after Saddam Hussein's ouster.

And Shinseki, like most people in the Obama administration who will spend years cleaning up the mess left by Team Bush, will be inheriting a system in which many troops returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan wait months for adequate care -- but he says that's going to change.

"A word to my fellow veterans," Shinseki said on Sunday after Obama announced his nomination. "If confirmed I will work each and every day to ensure that we are serving you was well as you have served us."

"We will always honor the sacrifices of those who have worn the uniform, and their loved ones."