Acting Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson, who is stepping in
to take over outgoing Secretary Eric Shinseki's duties, has been at the department for just a few months, but could serve as interim director through some of the scandal-plagued VA's most scrutinized days.
The Senate confirmed Gibson as deputy secretary in February, and he joined the department after serving as president and chief executive officer of the USO
, according to his VA biography.
Last fall, during his confirmation hearings before the Senate, NPR reports, Gibson promised
senators that he would "would tackle the longstanding backlog of disability claims and will work to find common ground with the Defense Department on a new strategy for a joint electronic-health records system."
Gibson joined the VA and the USO after a decades-long career in banking. He spent more than 20 years working in Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta, Nashville, and Birmingham before retiring from AmSouth Bancorp in 2004, where he was vice chairman and chief financial officer.
Gibson, a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, was an infantry officer in the Army who earned Airborne and Ranger qualifications.
President Barack Obama, announcing Gibson's temporary promotion, noted that he is from a long line of military veterans, reports The Washington Post
Back in 2011, Obama awarded Gibson with the National Medal of Arts for "lifting the spirits of service members and their families through the arts."
Gibson's family also has a history of military service. His father was a B-17 tail-gunner during World War II as a member of the Army Air Corps, and later earned a U.S. Air Force commission. In addition, Gibson's grandfather was an Army infantryman during World War I.
Gibson marked a successful term with the USO, according to his biography. During his tenure, net fundraising for the service organization grew by 90 percent, allowing the USO to expand its programs and facilities.
Gibson has a long history of service with volunteer organizations in addition to the USO. For example, a high point came in 2002, when Gibson chaired a United Way campaign in central Alabama that raised more than $30 million.
Gibson also has a master's degree in economics from the University of Missouri in Kansas City, as well as a master's in Ppblic administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
He and his wife, Margaret, have been married for nearly 32 years and have two grown daughters.
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