WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Donald Trump nominated Fayetteville native Robert Wilkie recently to be secretary of the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Wilkie was confirmed unanimously in 2017 to be the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and previously served as a senior adviser to Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) on national security and defense issues.
“Robert is one of the most honorable and decent human beings I’ve ever worked with, and anyone who knows him has seen his drive to serve his country and his passion for honoring our nation’s veterans and servicemembers, qualities that will be tremendous assets at the VA,” said Tillis in a statement following announcement of Wilkie’s nomination. “As my senior adviser, Robert was instrumental in advising me on veterans’ issues and the legislative priorities of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Robert holds pragmatic and commonsense views on modernizing the agency and upholding its core mission of providing veterans with the best health care, resources, and support possible.”
Wilkie previously served as assistant secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs under Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld. He also served as special assistant to President George W. Bush for National Security Affairs and as senior director of the National Security Council under Dr. Condoleezza Rice.
Wilkie, 55, would replace David Shulkin at the head of the VA. He has been acting secretary of the department since Trump fired Shulkin in March over concerns about unauthorized travel expenses. Trump’s physician Ronny Jackson, withdrew from consideration last month after Democrats presented unnamed sources that alleged he had been lax with prescription drugs and drank alcohol on the job. Jackson vehemently denied the allegations.
The veterans agency has long been criticized for the quality of care it provides and the red tape that veterans encounter.
Wilkie’s confirmation hearings are anticipated for the first week of June.