A glaring vacancy has occupied the position of Secretary of Veterans Affairs after the departure of David Shulkin and the subsequent nomination, debate and eventual rejection of Dr. Ronny Jackson for the position. In their stead, Robert Wilkie has taken up the mantle of Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Recently, President Donald Trump sent forth his nomination for Wilkie to take the job in a permanent capacity.
Dr. Jackson was mired in controversy after his nomination was put forward by President Trump. Allegations of drinking on the job, mismanagement of medical staff, and more accusations that culminated into Jackson’s rejection of the offer. Trump has said that he believed that Dr. Jackson did not deserve to be treated with such criticisms, and that he was a good man. Nevertheless, the position had remained vacant.
Since Wilkie has been filling in, Trump has said that he “has done an incredible job at the VA,” and now we have another nominee for the position.
Robert Wilkie was born in Germany as the son of an Army Artillery Officer that eventually reached the rank of Colonel before retiring.
Early on, Wilkie took the route of law school and began to climb the ladder in Washington DC. He was previously the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs, and is still filling the position of Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, which essentially focuses on DOD oversight of military readiness, when it comes to things like pay, recruitment and career management and development. He has been a Senior Advisor to U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, and was once awarded the Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal. This is the highest award given to a civilian by the Secretary of Defense.
He is also an officer in the Air Force Reserve, assigned to the Office of the Chief of Staff. He has previously also served in the Navy Reserve in two intelligence units: the Joint Forces Intelligence Command in the Naval Special Warfare Group Two, and the Office of Naval Intelligence.
Given his experience, Wilkie has worked within DOD infrastructure and alleviates the management concerns that many had with Dr. Jackson’s resume.
Press Secretary for the VA, Curt Cashour, said that,
Under Acting Secretary Wilkie’s leadership, senior VA officials are now on the same page, speaking with one voice to Veterans, employees and outside stakeholders, such as Congress and veterans service organizations, and are focused on a number of key priorities in the short term.”
Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.
Edit — May 28, 2018: This article has been fixed to annotate Robert Wilkie’s military service.