United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs

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Secretary of Veterans Affairs of the United States
Seal of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.svg
Seal of the Department of Veterans Affairs
Flag of the United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs.svg
Flag of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Peter O'Rourke official photo.jpg
Peter O'Rourke

since May 29, 2018
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
Style Mr. Secretary
Member of Cabinet
Reports to The President
Seat Washington, D.C.
Nominator The President
Term length No fixed term
Constituting instrument 38 U.S.C. § 303
Formation March 15, 1989
First holder Ed Derwinski
Succession Seventeenth[1]
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 United States 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[2]). Until the appointment of David Shulkin in 2017, all appointees and acting appointees to the post were 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[3] or any other person designated by the President serves as Acting Secretary[3] until the President nominates and the United States Senate confirms a new Secretary.

List of Secretaries of Veterans Affairs


  No party (2)   Democratic (2)   Republican (5)

  Denotes acting Secretary
No. Portrait Name State of Residence Took Office Left Office President(s)
1 Ed derwinski.jpg Ed Derwinski Illinois March 15, 1989 September 26, 1992 George H. W. Bush
Anthony Principi.jpg Anthony Principi[1]
California September 26, 1992 January 20, 1993
2 Jesse brown va.jpg Jesse Brown Illinois January 22, 1993 July 1, 1997 Bill Clinton
Gober sm.jpg Hershel W. Gober[2]
Arkansas July 1, 1997 January 2, 1998
3 TogoDWest.jpg Togo D. West Jr. District of Columbia January 2, 1998[3] May 5, 1998
May 5, 1998 July 25, 2000
Gober sm.jpg Hershel W. Gober[2]
Arkansas July 25, 2000 January 20, 2001
4 Anthony Principi.jpg Anthony Principi California January 23, 2001 January 26, 2005 George W. Bush
5 JimNicholson.jpg Jim Nicholson Colorado January 26, 2005 October 1, 2007
Gordon H. Mansfield.jpg Gordon H. Mansfield[4]
Florida October 1, 2007 December 20, 2007
6 PeakeJames.jpg James Peake District of Columbia December 20, 2007 January 20, 2009
7 Eric Shinseki official Veterans Affairs portrait.jpg Eric Shinseki Hawaii January 20, 2009 May 30, 2014 Barack Obama
Sloan Gibson.jpg Sloan D. Gibson
Alabama May 30, 2014 July 30, 2014
8 Robert A. McDonald Official Portrait.jpg Bob McDonald Ohio July 30, 2014 January 20, 2017
Robert Snyder.jpg Robert Snyder
West Virginia January 20, 2017 February 14, 2017 Donald Trump
9 David Shulkin official photo (cropped).jpg David Shulkin Pennsylvania February 14, 2017 March 28, 2018
Robert L. Wilkie, acting SECVA photo (cropped).jpg Robert Wilkie
North Carolina March 28, 2018 May 29, 2018
Peter O'Rourke official photo (cropped).jpg Peter O'Rourke
Virginia May 29, 2018 Incumbent

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.[4]

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

4 Gordon H. Mansfield served as acting secretary in his capacity as Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs October 1 – December 20, 2007.[7]

Living former Secretaries of Veterans Affairs

As of June 2018, there are six living former Secretaries of Veterans Affairs (with all Secretaries that have served since 2001 still living), the oldest being Jim Nicholson (served 2005–2007, born 1938). The most recent Secretary of Veterans Affairs to die, as well as the recently serving Secretary to die, was Togo D. West, Jr. (served 1998–2000, born 1942), on March 8, 2018.

Name Term of office Date of birth (and age)
Anthony Principi 2001–2005 (1944-04-16) April 16, 1944 (age 74)
Jim Nicholson 2005–2007 (1938-02-04) February 4, 1938 (age 80)
James Peake 2007–2009 (1944-06-18) June 18, 1944 (age 74)
Eric Shinseki 2009–2014 (1942-11-28) November 28, 1942 (age 75)
Robert A. McDonald 2014–2017 (1953-06-20) June 20, 1953 (age 65)
David Shulkin 2017–2018 (1959-07-22) July 22, 1959 (age 58)

See also


  1. ^ https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/3/19
  2. ^ Public Law 109-177 §.503
  3. ^ a b 38 U.S.C. § 304: Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Accessed January 13, 2008.
  4. ^ "Gober Takes Over Top Spot at VA" (Press release). Department of Veterans Affairs. July 25, 2000. Retrieved September 29, 2009. 
  5. ^ "President Clinton Names Togo D. West Jr. As Acting Secretary Of The Department Of Veterans' Affairs" (Press release). White House. December 2, 1997. Retrieved September 9, 2009. 
  6. ^ Staff (May 1999). "The Honorable Togo D. West Jr". United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Archived from the original on March 4, 2000. Retrieved September 9, 2009. 
  7. ^ UPI. Peake sworn in as VA secretary Archived February 4, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., December 20, 2007. Accessed December 21, 2007.

External links

  • Official website
Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Betsy DeVos
as Secretary of Education
Order of Precedence of the United States
as Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Succeeded by
Kirstjen Nielsen
as Secretary of Homeland Security
Current U.S. presidential line of succession
Preceded by
Secretary of Education
Betsy Devos
17th in line Succeeded by
Secretary of Homeland Security
Kirstjen Nielsen
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