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Begich Welcomes VA Sec. Shinseki to Alaska for Memorial Day

Veterans Affairs Secretary to see challenges of veterans firsthand

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, today announced that Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki, has accepted his invitation to visit Alaska for Memorial Day. In a number of meetings over the last few years, Sen. Begich has discussed Sec. Shinseki coming to Alaska to see firsthand the needs of Alaska veterans, particularly those living in rural areas.

"It couldn't be more fitting to have Secretary Shinseki in Alaska over Memorial Day where he'll get the chance to meet and honor our veterans in a variety of settings," Begich said. "I always say the best way to tell the story of Alaska and our unique challenges is to bring cabinet secretaries and other Administration officials to the state. This will be an excellent opportunity for veterans to talk directly to the Secretary about their needs and how VA services can be improved.  Being a veteran himself, Secretary Shinseki understands and is an advocate for all veterans. I look forward to welcoming him to our great state."

While details of the visit are still being finalized, the Secretary's visit will likely include Memorial Day events in Anchorage, plus a trip to a Bethel and Kwigillingok. Sen. Begich believes one of the best ways to learn the real needs of Alaska's veterans is to visit remote areas to see the challenges of providing services and getting proper information about VA services and benefits to such a vast region. Secretary Shinseki will also visit VA facilities and meet with VA employees serving Alaska's veterans.

Retired U.S. Army General Eric K. Shinseki was nominated by President Barack Obama on December 7, 2008 to serve as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. His nomination was confirmed by the Senate on January 20, 2009, and he was sworn in as the seventh Secretary of Veterans Affairs on January 21, 2009.  Secretary Shinseki served as Chief of Staff, United States Army, from 1999 to June 11, 2003, and retired from active duty on August 1, 2003.  Biography available here: http://www.va.gov/opa/bios/bio_shinseki.asp.

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