The Honorable Hershel W. Gober
Hershel Gober's appointment by President Clinton as Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs was effective July 25, 2000 . He had served as Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs since being sworn in by President Clinton on February 4, 1993.
As Acting Secretary, Mr. Gober directs the federal governments second largest department, responsible for a nationwide system of health care services, benefits programs, and national cemeteries for Americas veterans and dependents. With an annual budget of $48 billion, VA employs some 219,000 people at hundreds of VA medical centers, clinics, benefits offices, and national cemeteries throughout the country.
During his tenure with VA, Mr. Gober has pressed for expanded benefits for veterans who were prisoners of war, or exposed to Agent Orange, radiation or mustard gas, and for Gulf War veterans suffering from unexplained illnesses. He has provided day-to-day leadership as the department transformed its health care system into patient-centered networks emphasizing access and primary and ambulatory care. Mr. Gober led the reform of VAs equal employment opportunity complaint process with creation of an independent Office of Resolution Management.
Mr. Gober is the architect of One VA, a sweeping program of employee empowerment aimed at breaking down organizational and procedural barriers and forming a unified, seamless agency focused on one thing the veteran. He initiated creation of the VA Learning University (VALU), a web-based, video-networked system focused on the continuing education of all VA employees.
As a member of the Presidents Management Council, Mr. Gober reviews successful management methodologies used in private industry and oversees transplantation of these "best practices" into VA. He developed an awards program to recognize improvements, giving his "Scissors" award to innovators who have cut red tape and improved services to veterans and their families.
Mr. Gober first won the confidence of then-Governor Bill Clinton in directing veterans affairs for the State of Arkansas, and his nomination as VAs Deputy Secretary was one of President Clintons first appointments. In addition to the regular duties he has performed in that position, Mr. Gober led Presidential missions to Vietnam seeking resolution of POW and MIA issues.
Mr. Gobers military service covers 20 years, and includes tours of duty in both the Marine Corps and the Army. He served two tours in Vietnam and received numerous decorations, including the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and the Soldiers Medal. In 1993, he was honored by the Infantry Officers Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Georgia, with his induction into the OCS Hall of Fame.
Mr. Gober has a B.A. degree in history from Alaska Methodist University (now Alaska Pacific University), from which he graduated cum laude. He was born in Monticello, Arkansas in 1936. He is married to Mary Lou Keener.