Changing of the Guard at VA

Three Top Leaders Face Senate Confirmation.  

The Obama Administration nominated three individuals for political appointments at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  All nominees must first face the scrutiny of Congress, including hearings by the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and then confirmation votes by both the Committee and the full Senate.

Sloan Gibson, to be Deputy Secretary

The first and perhaps most significant new nominee is Sloan Gibson, head of the non-profit USO, famous for their support of our troops.  Stars & Stripes reports that Gibson was named by President Barack Obama to take over as Deputy Secretary, the No. 2 spot at VA.

If he is approved by the Senate, Gibson, a former infantry officer who’s served as president of the military charity since 2008, would replace departed VA Deputy Secretary Scott Gould, who retired in May.

Constance B. Tobias, to be Chairman, Board of Veterans’ Appeals

The White House also announced last year that it nominated Constance B. Tobias to become the new chair at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA).  Tobias, who is currently chair of the departmental appeals board at the Department of Health and Human Services, served as the chief veterans law judge for BVA from 1995 to 2007; the year she received VA’s Distinguished Career Award.

Linda Schwartz, to be Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning

The Obama Administration picked Connecticut’s Veterans Affairs Commissioner Linda Schwartz, a highly respected retired Air Force veteran, to serve as an Assistant Secretary at the Federal VA where she will be looking at VA policies and ways to better provide services to Veterans.

Schwartz, who participates in Stand Downs and many other vital programs for our homeless Veterans, told CT News Junkie it was an honor to be picked for the job – especially given that the VA often recruits from the military rather than from individual state governments.

Schwartz said she has “been a thorn in the side of the VA for centuries” and wouldn’t be taking the job if she didn’t think she could help.  “The reason I’m coming is because I do believe I can do something to make it better that’s the way I’ll operate,” she said. “I really do feel that all of the experience I’ve had here certainly has been an education for me.”

What’s Next?

No confirmation hearings or votes have been scheduled by the Senate.  Bergmann & Moore will keep you posted on these high-impact VA nominations.

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