McAuliffe names retired Adm. John Harvey to be veterans affairs secretary

Virginia Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe continued to fill out his Cabinet on Friday, nominating a retired four-star Navy admiral to serve as secretary of veterans affairs and homeland security.

The selection of Adm. John C. Harvey Jr. brings to 10 the number of Cabinet slots McAuliffe has filled. Two positions remain open — the secretaries of education and of commerce and trade — and those choices are to be named in January. Cabinet members require confirmation by the General Assembly.

McAuliffe announced his pick of Harvey, former commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces in Norfolk, at the headquarters of the Military Officers Association of America in Alexandria. McAuliffe praised Harvey for having “served our nation with distinction” during his 39-year career in the Navy.

“I chose Admiral Harvey because of his unmatched leadership skills, his knowledge of both veterans affairs and emergency preparedness, and enormous experience managing large operations with multiple missions,” McAuliffe said.

McAuliffe said he would also lean on Harvey for advice on “Virginia’s relationship with the United States military.”

Harvey said he was ready for the task while acknowledging that “we do have challenges expediting [Veterans Affairs] claims and delivering other key services in a timely and fair fashion.”

The position of secretary of veterans affairs and homeland security was created in 2011, transforming what had been the Office of Commonwealth Preparedness and elevating its leader to a Cabinet-level position. Harvey, if confirmed, will be the third holder of the position, following Terrie Suit and Jim Hopper, the current secretary.

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