July 25, 2000, 08:00:00 AM
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hershel W. Gober today takes over as Acting Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the federal governments second largest cabinet agency. Former VA Secretary, Togo West, announced his departure on July 10.
With an annual budget of $48 billion, VA emloys about 219,000 people at hundreds of VA medical centers, clinics, benefits offices, and national cemeteries throughout the country.
"I am eager to continue building on this administrations extraordinary accomplishments," said Gober, who has served as VAs Deputy Secretary since February 1993.
During his tenure with VA, Gober has been instrumental in helping secure expanded benefits for veterans who were prisoners of war, or who were exposed to Agent Orange, radiation or mustard gas, and for Gulf War veterans suffering from unexplained illnesses. He has provided day-to-day leadership as the department transformed its health care system into patient-centered networks emphasizing access and primary and ambulatory care.
Gober is the architect of "One VA," a sweeping program of employee empowerment aimed at breaking down organizational and procedural barriers and forming a unified, seamless agency focused on one thing – the veteran.
He led the reform of VAs equal employment opportunity complaint process with creation of an independent Office of Resolution Management.
As a member of the Presidents Management Council, Gober reviews successful management methodologies used in private industry and oversees transplantation of these "best practices" into VA. He developed an awards program to recognize improvements, giving his "Scissors" award to innovators who have cut red tape and improved services to veterans and their families.
Gober first won the confidence of then-Governor Bill Clinton in directing veterans affairs for the State of Arkansas, and his nomination as VAs Deputy Secretary was one of President Clintons first appointments. In addition to the regular duties he has performed in that position, Gober led Presidential missions to Vietnam seeking resolution of POW and MIA issues.
Gobers military service covers 20 years, and includes tours of duty in both the Marine Corps and the Army. He served two tours in Vietnam and received numerous decorations, including the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and the Soldiers Medal.
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