United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Secretary of Veterans Affairs of the United States of America

Seal of the Department of Veterans Affairs

Flag of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Robert McDonald

since July 30, 2014
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
Style Mr. Secretary
Member of Cabinet
Reports to The President
Seat Washington, D.C.
Appointer The President
with Senate advice and consent
Term length No fixed term
Constituting instrument 38 U.S.C. § 303
Formation March 15, 1989
First holder Ed Derwinski
Succession Sixteenth in the United States Presidential Line of Succession
Deputy Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Salary Executive Schedule, level 1
Website www.VA.gov

The United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs is the head of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the department concerned with veterans' benefits, health care, and national veterans' memorials and cemeteries. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and second to last at sixteenth in the line of succession to the presidency (the position was last until the addition of the United States Department of Homeland Security in 2006[1]). To date, all appointees and acting appointees to the post have been United States military veterans, but that is not a requirement to fill the position.

When the post of Secretary is vacant, the United States Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs[2] or any other person designated by the President serves as Acting Secretary[2] until the President nominates and the United States Senate confirms a new Secretary.

On December 8, 2008, U.S. President Barack Obama announced he would nominate retired U.S. Army general Eric Shinseki to be the seventh Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on January 20, 2009.[3] General Shinseki resigned as Secretary of Veterans Affairs on May 30, 2014, making deputy secretary Sloan Gibson the acting secretary. On June 29, 2014, President Obama nominated former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert A. McDonald to serve as VA secretary. The United States Senate confirmed McDonald on July 29, 2014.[4]

List of Secretaries of Veterans Affairs


  No party   Democratic   Republican

  Denotes acting Secretary
No. Portrait Name State of Residence Took Office Left Office President(s)
1 Ed Derwinski
Illinois March 15, 1989 September 26, 1992 George H. W. Bush
Anthony Principi[1]
California September 26, 1992 January 20, 1993
2 Jesse Brown
Corporal, USMC
Illinois January 22, 1993 July 1, 1997 Bill Clinton
Hershel W. Gober[2]
Arkansas July 1, 1997 January 2, 1998
3 Togo D. West, Jr.
District of Columbia January 2, 1998[3] May 5, 1998
May 5, 1998 July 25, 2000
Hershel W. Gober[2]
Arkansas July 25, 2000 January 20, 2001
4 Anthony Principi
USN (Ret.)
California January 23, 2001 January 26, 2005 George W. Bush
5 Jim Nicholson,
Colonel, USA (Ret.)
Colorado January 26, 2005 October 1, 2007
Gordon H. Mansfield[4]
Florida October 1, 2007 December 20, 2007
6 James B. Peake,
Lt.Gen., USA (Ret.)
District of Columbia December 20, 2007 January 20, 2009
7 Eric Shinseki,
General, USA (Ret.)
Hawaii January 20, 2009 May 30, 2014 Barack Obama
Sloan D. Gibson
Alabama May 30, 2014 July 30, 2014
8 Robert McDonald,
Captain, USA
Ohio July 30, 2014 present

1 Anthony Principi served as acting secretary in his capacity as Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs September 26, 1992—January 20, 1993.

2 Hershel W. Gober served as acting secretary in his capacity as Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs July 1, 1997—January 2, 1998 and July 25, 2000—January 20, 2001.[5]

3 West served as acting Secretary from January 2, 1998[6] to May 5, 1998.[7]

4 Gordon H. Mansfield served as acting secretary in his capacity as Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs October 1—December 20, 2007.[8]

Living former Secretaries of Veterans Affairs

As of December 2016, there are five living former Secretaries of Veterans Affairs, the oldest being Jim Nicholson (served 2005-2007, born 1938). The most recent Secretary of Veterans Affairs to die was Ed Derwinski (served 1989-1992, born 1926), on January 15, 2012. The most recently serving Secretary to die was Jesse Brown (served 1993-1997, born 1944) on August 15, 2002.

NameTerm of officeDate of birth (and age)
Togo D. West, Jr. 1998–2000 June 21, 1942
Anthony Principi 2001–2005 April 16, 1944
Jim Nicholson 2005–2007 February 4, 1938
James Peake 2007–2009 June 18, 1944
Eric Shinseki 2009–2014 November 28, 1942

See also

Notes and references

  1. Public Law 109-177§.503
  2. 1 2 38 U.S.C. § 304: Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Accessed 2008-01-13.
  3. https://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hi6r-WMKkf2LwqPLQN0PhNMabNmgD95R59EG0
  4. Tritten, Travis J. (29 July 2014). "Senate confirms Robert McDonaldz as Secretary of Veterans Affairs". Stars and Stripes. Defense Media Activity (U.S. Department of Defense). Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  5. "Gober Takes Over Top Spot at VA" (Press release). Department of Veterans Affairs. 2000-07-25. Retrieved 2009-09-29.
  6. "President Clinton Names Togo D. West, Jr. As Acting Secretary Of The Department Of Veterans' Affairs" (Press release). White House. 1997-12-02. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
  7. Staff (May 1999). "The Honorable Togo D. West, Jr.". Department of Veterans Affairs. Archived from the original on 2000-03-04. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
  8. UPI. Peake sworn in as VA secretary, Dec 20, 2007. Accessed 21 Dec 2007.
United States presidential line of succession
Preceded by
Secretary of Education
Arne Duncan
17th in line Succeeded by
Secretary of Homeland Security
Jeh Johnson
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