JAPANESE AMERICAN VETERANS ASSOCIATION
1749 Old Meadow Road, Suite 500, McLean, VA 22102 (Bob Nakamoto, President)
December 08, 2008
CONTACT: Terry Shima 301-987-6746; firstname.lastname@example.org
PHOTO: Being Sent along with this Press Release.
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GENERAL ERIC SHINSEKI, USA (RET) NOMINATED TO HEAD VETERANS AFFAIRS
Washington, DC. President-elect Barack Obama has nominated General Eric Shinseki, US Army (Ret), as Secretary-Designate of Veterans Affairs, a position that has taken a new level of urgency because of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama told NBC News “Meet the Press “When I reflect on the sacrifices that have been made by our veterans and I think about how many veterans around the country are struggling even more than those who have not served – higher unemployment rates, higher homeless rates, higher substance-abuse rates, medical care that is inadequate – it breaks my heart, and I think that General Shinseki is exactly the right person who is going to be able to make sure that we honor our troops when they come home.”
In endorsing Obama’s nomination, General Colin L. Powell, US Army (Ret), former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State, said “Shinseki is a superb choice…He is a wounded hero who survived and worked his way to the top. He knows soldiers and knows what it takes to keep faith with the men and women who went forth to serve the nation. He also knows how to run large and complex bureaucratic institutions. His is an inspired selection.”
Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, said “General Shinseki is a great choice. He is well aware of the needs of our veterans and will make an excellent secretary…He is a man of great ability and integrity.”
Above: President-elect Barack
Obama listens after introducing former Army chief of staff,
retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki as his Veterans Affairs Secretary-designate during a news
conference Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008 in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) (M. Spencer Green - AP)
General Shinseki told Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA) officials on several occasions that never a day goes by that he does not think of the dedicated men and women in uniform sacrificing their lives to defend our nation and our way of living. Even in his retirement he is totally committed to them. He has accepted the nomination to attempt to improve the benefits and services for which all veterans of the Armed Forces are entitled.
Some veterans organizations have provided reactions to the nomination. AMVETS National Commander Chad Hapner, following a wreath laying ceremony at the National WW II Memorial in Washington, DC, said “AMVETS applauds Obama’s decision and we put our full trust and confidence in General Shinseki…We feel Shinseki will bring the proper perspective to his new post, in addition to a wealth of competent leadership experience. We look forward to working with General Shinseki to ensure that our veterans receive the necessary, timely care they have earned.”
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Commander Glen M. Gardner, Jr. said: The nomination “is being met with hope by the nation's largest organization of combat veterans. Running the VA will be far different than leading troops into battle, but we hope he possesses the leadership, management and accountability traits that we demand from all VA secretaries. The VFW looks forward to working with him and his new leadership team."
Disabled American Veterans (DAV) National Commander Raymond E. Dempsey.said DAV “looks forward to working with him [General Shinseki] to help fulfill our nation’s obligation to veterans. … With a growing number of wounded and disabled veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan putting even greater strain on the VA, already struggling to meet the needs of millions of other veterans from previous wars and eras, the VA needs a strong leader who can immediately take charge of the department. … VA must have strong, aggressive leadership to solve long-standing problems within the department. These include a massive backlog of claims for disability compensation and other benefits, worsened by recent revelations about mishandling of claims-related documents. That coupled with the challenges of a strained health care system, makes it imperative that the VA have a leader who is committed to doing what is right for our veterans.” Shinseki’s is the kind of integrity and leadership the VA needs in order to fulfill our nation’s sacred obligation to veterans,” Dempsey said.
John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) said the nomination of Shinseki is a “promising choice. … We have no doubt that General Shinseki has the integrity and personal fortitude to usher in the real changes needed to make the VA a true steward of our nation’s veterans and their families. His selection certainly lives up to Mr. Obama’s promise to bring change and hope to Washington. VA bureaucrats, for whom ‘change’ is a dirty word, will learn that there really is a new game in town. Veterans of all political persuasions should take heart and applaud this choice. … The most effective administrator of the VA was General Omar Bradley, who was brought in by President Harry Truman to clean up the old Veterans Administration. We hope that General Shinseki will follow General Bradley’s example and exert the strong leadership needed to overhaul today’s VA, particularly with the seemingly intransigent backlog of more than 600,000 claims and appeals that seem to stagnate in the Veterans Benefits Administration,”
Bob Nakamoto, President of JAVA, called General Shinseki the “soldiers’ soldier, a role model for every young man and woman”. Nakamoto continued “General Shinseki’s nomination is recognition of a highly qualified patriot and it is a chapter in the Greatness of America. Sixty-seven years ago, as the result of the Pearl Harbor attack, Japanese Americans were distrusted by their government and faced significant discrimination resulting in 120,000 of them being forcibly interned in primitive camps for the duration of the war. Japanese Americans, who volunteered for combat, proved their loyalty that earned a Presidential apology for the incarceration. Today, Japanese Americans can compete on equal terms with any other persons for opportunities throughout American society.” [Quotes of Obama, Powell and Akaka were taken from Washington Post, December 7, 2008] 30