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Interim VA leader Gibson is new to department

May. 30, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Sloan Gibson
Sloan Gibson, seen leaving the White House on Friday, will serve as interim secretary of the VA while the Obama administration searches for a permanent successor. (Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press)
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Sloan Gibson will serve as interim secretary of the VA while the Obama administration searches for a permanent successor. (Jason Dangel/Veterans Affairs Department)

Just three months after being named Veterans Affairs deputy secretary, Sloan Gibson is taking the helm — albeit temporarily — of an embattled Cabinet department.

President Obama on Friday said Gibson will step up to serve as interim secretary while the administration searches for a permanent successor.

Obama acknowledged that Gibson has a “learning curve,” but as USO president for five years, has done a “remarkable job supporting our men and women at war, their families, our wounded warriors and families of the fallen.”

“I’m grateful that he is willing to take on this task,” the president said.

Gibson is a career banker who worked 20 years in the private sector before joining the USO. He retired as chief financial officer from AmSouth Bancorporation after seeing the company enter the Standard & Poor’s 500, according to his VA biography.

Like his predecessor, Secretary Eric Shinseki, Sloan graduated from the U.S. Military Academy. He served as an infantry officer and earned his Airborne and Ranger qualifications. He also has earned graduate degrees from the University of Missouri in Kansas City and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

He is the son of a World War II veteran and grandson of an World War I Army infantryman who was wounded at the Second Battle of the Marne.

In 2012, Obama and the National Endowment of the Arts awarded the USO a National Medal of the Arts for “lifting the spirits of service members and their families through the arts.”

Obama praised the organization for “continuing to support members of our Armed Forces by bringing iconic American artists to share the sights and sounds of home with troops stationed around the world.”

Under Gibson’s tenure as well as other USO leaders, the USO has helped veterans and their families by providing support at every transfer of military remains at Dover Air Force Base, Del., provided troops in Afghanistan with about 200,000 free phone calls a month as well as hours of Internet access and issued public service announcements raising awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

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