Robert Wilkie is the current secretary of veterans affairs. He is the 10th person to serve in the position.
President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Wilkie for the position on May 18, 2018. He was formally nominated on June 20, 2018. The Senate confirmed his appointment on July 23, 2018, by a vote of 86-9. Wilkie was sworn in on July 30, 2018.
The secretary of veterans affairs oversees the following agencies: the National Cemetery Administration, the Veterans Benefits Administration, and the Veterans Health Administration.
Wilkie earned a bachelor's degree from Wake Forest University, a Juris Doctor from Loyola University College of Law in New Orleans, a Master of Laws in international and comparative law from Georgetown University, and a Masters in strategic studies from the United States Army War College. Wilkie is a reserve officer in the United States Air Force Reserve. Before joining the Air Force, he served in the United States Navy Reserve with the Joint Forces Intelligence Command, Naval Special Warfare Group Two, and the Office of Naval Intelligence.
Wilkie also worked as senior advisor to Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and as vice president for strategic initiatives for CH2M HILL.
Below is an abbreviated outline of Wilkie's professional career:
Dear Secretary Wilkie: I recently discussed the link between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and dementia with a group of veterans in my district. They expressed concern that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not recognize dementia developed later in life as being a secondary condition of service-connected PTSD. VA regulations (38 CFR 3.310) state that a "disability which is proximately due to or the result of service-connected disease or injury shall be service connected. When service connection is thus established for a secondary condition, the secondary condition shall be considered a part of the original condition." The regulations also presume five conditions, including three types of dementias, as being the proximate result of service-connected traumatic brain injury (TBI). There is good reason to believe that PTSD may be linked with later development of dementia. A Department of Defense-funded study published in the June 2010 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry found that veterans with PTSD were almost twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease as veterans without PTSD.[] Another study published in the September 2010 issue of Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found similar results.[] Additionally, a study published in the July 2017 issue of The EMBO Journal found experimental evidence that the link between PTSD and Alzheimer's and dementia may be causal.[] Our nation owes an immeasurable amount of gratitude to members of our armed services and their families for the sacrifices they've made to protect our country's values and principles. The best way to honor this sacrifice is by ensuring that our veterans receive the benefits and services they have earned and deserve. As a Congressman representing much of San Antonio -- Military City, USA -- I am committed to ensuring that the more than 60,000 veterans who live in my district receive disability rates that accurately reflect both the injuries sustained during their service and secondary conditions developed later in life as a result. Therefore, I am seeking information on the following questions in relation to the VA's recognition of links between PTSD and Alzheimer's and dementia: Has the VA recognized Alzheimer's or dementia as secondary conditions of PTSD under 38 CFR 3.310 in any cases?If so, in approximately how many cases has this link been recognized?Has the VA conducted any studies on the potential linkage of PTSD and dementia and Alzheimer's?What training, if any, does the Veteran Benefits Administration (VBA) conduct for their employees on the link between PTSD and dementia and Alzheimer's?Thank you for your attention to this important issue. Respectfully, Joaquin CastroMember of Congress
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