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.