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Nicholson Tapped to Be New Veterans Secretary

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2004 – President Bush has named Jim Nicholson as his nominee as the next secretary of veterans affairs.

If confirmed by the Senate, Nicholson would replace Anthony Principi. Nicholson has been serving as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, a post in the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church in Vatican City, Rome.

Bush called Nicholson a "patriot, a man of deep conviction who has answered his country's call many times."

Raised in humble circumstances in Iowa, Nicholson attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served on active duty as an Army officer for eight years, including a combat tour in Vietnam. He received the Bronze Star and earned the Combat Infantryman's Badge. Upon completing his active duty tour, he entered the Army Reserve and retired 22 years later as a colonel.

In his civilian life, Nicholson is a lawyer and a businessman. He owns Renaissance Homes a nationally known firm that builds custom homes.

While at the Vatican, Nicholson worked to advance many vital foreign policy goals, including fighting poverty, hunger, AIDS, expanding religious liberty around the world and ending the brutal practice of human trafficking, Bush said. "I'm grateful to Jim for his superb work as our Ambassador, and I now have asked him to accept a new assignment, to serve his country and his fellow veterans," the president said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has more than 230,000 employees ensuring veterans receive the health care and other benefits. Today, there are about 25 million American veterans. The department's budget last year was $64 billion.

Principi has served in his position since January 2001. "Secretary Principi is a man who insists on results, and he has gotten results," Bush said. "Thanks to his leadership, veterans and their families have seen many improvements in VA services. Jim Nicholson will build on Tony Principi's achievements in continuing to modernize the VA, especially the VA health care system," Bush said. "Jim has the judgment and the character and the management expertise to do this job well."

Nicholson thanked the president for the opportunity to serve and promised veterans he would make their needs his highest priority.

"Our military is the pride of our country," he said. "We can't pay them enough to do the things that we ask of them -- the sacrifices, the separations, the heroics. They answer the call for one reason: Their country needs them. Our country depends on them and they have never, ever let us down. We must not let them down, either."

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Vet erans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi
Veterans Affairs Secretary Nominee Jim Nicholson

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