President Barack Obama's choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, is known for publicly challenging former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's Iraq war strategy. In 2003, Shinseki, then the Army chief of staff, testified before Congress that it would take several hundred thousand troops to control Iraq after the invasion. Within months after the remarks, he was forced out his post. In an interview, Mr. Obama said he chose Shinseki for the VA post because he "was right."
Shinseki, 66, was the Army's first four-star general of Japanese-American ancestry. If confirmed, he will be the first Asian-American to lead the government's second largest agency, which has been criticized for underestimating the resources needed to care for returning Iraq war veterans. Mr. Obama made the announcement on Dec. 7, 2008, the 67th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Shinseki graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1965 and spent 38 years as a soldier, the last four as Army chief of staff. He is the recipient of two Purple Hearts for life-threatening injuries suffered in Vietnam. He also has Master's degrees from Duke University and the National War College.
Shinseki was confirmed by the Senate on January 20, 2009.
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