January 23, 2009 – Shortly after President Barack Obama took the oath of office, Tuesday, the Senate approved the nomination of retired four-star Army general and 34th Chief of Staff of the Army General Eric K. Shinseki as the new Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. AFGE and its 150,000 members in the VA are eager to work with the secretary to meet the many challenges facing the department. The VA currently provides health care for 5.5 million veterans, processes disability compensation payments for 3.4 million veterans, and must process the educational and training benefits for those covered by the G.I. bill.
As Secretary Shinseki mentioned in his opening remarks during his Senate confirmation hearing the great challenge of the department will be to turn the VA into a 21st century system. “The VA is facing challenges on all sides, but it is a new day,” said J. David Cox, AFGE national-secretary treasurer. “The federal employees of the VA have been waiting for someone with the type of courage and strength of character that General Shinseki has shown throughout his career; to say we are excited is an understatement.”
AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer, J. David Cox, spoke briefly with General Shinseki after his confirmation hearing, letting him know that the union is eager to work with him as a partner in meeting our veterans’ needs.
AFGE is the largest federal employee union, representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.