Veterans Department to be led by career banker

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 30, 2014 at 4:09 pm •  Published: May 30, 2014
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WASHINGTON (AP) — After less than four months at the Veterans Affairs Department, Sloan D. Gibson suddenly finds himself in charge of fixing the problems that led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

"Sloan, I think, would be the first to acknowledge that he's going to have a learning curve that he's got to deal with," President Barack Obama told reporters Friday after announcing that Gibson would replace Shinseki temporarily.

A career banker, Gibson was confirmed by the Senate on Feb. 11 as deputy VA secretary, just weeks before allegations of long waits for doctor's appointments at VA hospitals nationwide led to mounting bipartisan calls by lawmakers and others for Shinseki to resign.

Gibson, 61, came to the department after serving as president and chief executive officer of the USO, the nonprofit organization that provides programs, services and entertainment to U.S. troops and their families. During his five years at the USO, net fundraising grew by 90 percent and paid for an expansion of programs, according to Gibson's bio on the VA website.

"I'm grateful that he is willing to take on this task," Obama said, noting Gibson's two decades of experience in the private and nonprofit sectors. "He, too, has devoted his life to serving our country and our veterans."

John I. Pray Jr., the USO's current president and chief executive, said Gibson worked tirelessly during his tenure there to support the changing needs of the military. He called Gibson a "driving force" behind the organization's growth and a "passionate advocate" for active duty service members and veterans.

Obama met with Gibson after he met with Shinseki and accepted his resignation. The president said he had made it clear to Gibson "that reforms should not wait. They need to proceed immediately."

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