CHARLOTTE — Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gen. Eric Shinseki, Graduate School ’76, recalled common ground with President Barack Obama as the chief source of his bond with the president.
The retired four-star general and Vietnam War veteran emphasized Obama’s commitment to veterans’ rights in his remarks Wednesday evening, calling the president’s devotion steadfast and strong. Upon meeting Obama in 2008, Shinseki said he and the president realized they shared similar upbringings and values.
“We were both shaped and inspired by family members who served in World War II,” he said. “Three of my uncles helped liberate Europe, and when they returned home they helped raise me…. They worked hard, played by the rules, and loved this country. I learned those values from them.”
Shinseki, who served as Army chief of staff from 1999 to 2003, highlighted expansion of post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injury treatment programs as well as job training for veterans as evidence of the Obama administration’s stance on veterans’ rights.
“No president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has done more for veterans,” Shinseki added. “We could not ask for a stronger advocate.”
Shinseki, who received his Master of Arts in English literature at Duke, was appointed to Obama’s cabinet December 7, 2008. His appointment was made public during a news conference recognizing the 67th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks.
The secretary has revisited Duke on a number of notable occasions: to lead the rededication of the University war memorial in October 2009 and to receive an honorary degree at the 2011 commencement ceremony.