President Nominates Former Senator Hagel as SecDef

President Obama nominated former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (Nebr.) to replace Leon Panetta as the next Secretary of Defense. If confirmed by the Senate, Hagel will be the first former enlisted service member and Vietnam veteran to serve as Secretary of Defense.

Hagel quit college in 1967 and enlisted in the Army, volunteering to serve in Vietnam.  When he returned, he resumed his studies and graduated from the University of Nebraska and was later appointed as Deputy Secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), but resigned after only one year. He started a small business (Vanguard Cellular Systems) that became the second largest independent cell phone company in the nation. Hagel was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 and retired in 2008 after serving two terms.  During his tenure in the Senate, he and Senator Frank Lautenberg (N.J.) co-sponsored the “Military Health Care Protection Act” (S. 604) in 2007 that sought to limit annual TRICARE fee increases to the amount of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Although the measure did not pass, similar legislation was eventually enacted in 2011.