WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President-elect Barack Obama will nominate retired Gen. Eric Shinseki to be secretary of Veterans Affairs, two Democratic sources said Saturday.
Obama was expected to make the formal announcement Sunday -- Pearl Harbor Day -- at a news conference in Chicago. Veterans groups appeared to support the selection.
"I am excited. I don't know him personally but this is a huge move," said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
For years, Shinseki, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, has been the patron saint of Pentagon critics who say the former Army chief's sage advice was ignored in 2003, resulting in too few U.S. troops being sent to Iraq after the invasion.
Well, if this doesn't convince the skeptics on the left that Obama is moving in the opposite direction of Bush, than nothing will. If nothing else, this selection shows that he is not going to surround himself with a bubble of yes men.
Shinseki spoke with condor and honesty about what he thought would be the necessary troop levels for a successful invasion and occupation of Iraq. Somehow, I do not see Shinseki becoming Army chief of staff without being able to recognize the prevailing political winds. So, I figure he knew speaking his opinion was going to have consequences.
It may have taken 5 years, but his honesty and willingness to speak his piece has finally paid off. True, he may not be leading the army, or the armed forces, but he sure as hell was just offered an important post. For most of my life, I have seen veterans handed the short stick. It's almost as if the United States is embarrassed that service members are wounded during combat. Quite frankly, the current administration has acted as if the only sacrifice they were willing to acknowledged was death. And even then, just barely.
I hope Eric Shinseki turns out to be a true advocate for the injured men and women of the armed forces. Lord knows they need one after eight years of the apathy they've had to experience from BushCo™.