President Trump‘s selection of Robert Wilkie to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is being praised by veterans groups as a safe, stabilizing move in the aftermath of the failed nomination of former White House physician Ronny Jackson.
Wilkie, who is serving as acting VA secretary, is a Washington insider with years of administrative experience who has previously worked on Capitol Hill as well as in the Pentagon for two presidents.
He’s drawn praise from both Republicans and Democrats, and outside advocacy groups hope he will avoid getting mired in the same ongoing fight over privatization that beset his predecessor, former Secretary David Shulkin.
“The VA has had six different leaders in last five years; it’s facing systemic problems. All the tumultuous changes are not good for veterans,” said John Hoellwarth, national communications director for AMVETS, a veterans service organization. “Veterans benefit from continuity.”
If confirmed, Wilkie will have to walk a tightrope if he is to succeed in implementing some of the biggest reforms to the VA in decades, The Hill reported.
From Fox News:
Wilkie served in the United States Naval Reserve, according to his Defense Department biography.
He would later join the Air Force as a reserve officer and was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Staff, his biography said.
He holds a masters in strategic studies from the United States Army War College. Wilkie is also a graduate of Wake Forest University, Georgetown University and Loyola University in New Orleans.
Wilkie took over as Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness in November 2017. According to his Defense Department biography, he advises the Secretary of Defense for Total Force Management on the National Guard, training, health issues and personnel requirements.
In 2005, Wilkie was tapped to serve as assistant secretary of the Defense Department. He was the youngest senior leader in the department at the time, his biography states.
Wilkie was vice president for strategic programs for CH2M HILL, a global engineering company, from 2010 to 2015, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.
Some of his assignments included reforming the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense Supply and Logistics System, his biography explains.