WASHINGTON —Robert Wilkie, the acting head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, was nominated to become the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Wilkie, who led the VA since March, comes from the Pentagon, where he was undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. He previously served as assistant secretary of Defense during the George W. Bush administration.
The announcement comes at a critical time for the agency. The VA struck a multi-billion dollar deal earlier for a new electronic medical record system, and the legislation to pave the way for a major overhaul of VA health care was sent to the Senate and was expected to be signed into law before Memorial Day.
The details of the overhaul and rules governing when Veterans can get VA-funded care will be up to Wilkie.
During an appearance in the White House briefing room in May, Wilkie said the bill will make it, "much easier for our Veterans to obtain care they need at the moment that they need it."
Wilkie was already confirmed to his current Pentagon post by the Senate. Going through vetting for the VA job should be smoother.
Veterans' groups, whose support can be crucial to confirmation, also issued generally positive reviews of the Wilkie pick.
The American Legion said it welcomed the decision after 51 days without a confirmed VA secretary. Disabled American Veterans said it was "pleased". It noted Wilkie has "considerable experience navigating federal government policies."