At a Glance
- Career History: Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, University of Texas at El Paso; Director, Center of Excellence for Border Security and Immigration; U.S. Army (1976-2006)
- Hometown: Kansas City, Mo.
- Alma Mater: Studies in National Security Strategy, U.S. Army War College (1997); Bachelor's degree, West Point Military Academy (1976)
- Spouse: Susan
- DC Office: Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20420
- Web site
Path to Power
Riojas graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as a second lieutenant in the Field Artillery in 1976. He furthered his academic military career in 1997 when he completed studies on national security strategy at the U.S. Army War College.
During his 30 years in the Army, Riojas took part in many assignments around the world, including in Korea, Germany and southwest Asia. These duties included roles in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.
During his 2009 confirmation hearing, Riojas shared his top priorities at the VA"
- To improve the operations, security and preparedness within the VA "so that continuous support can be given regardless of the conditions: to include before, during and after any natural or man-made disaster. The Department of Veterans Affairs must be best prepared to perform during times of extreme circumstances."
- Provide positive leadership to improve the efficiency and effectiveness within the department so that support to veterans can be maximized.
- Partner with members of Congress to serve veterans.
- Establish open lines of communication and maximize collaboration and integration between VA and Congress.
Riojas' 30-year career as a soldier placed him in the top reaches of the military, from on-the-ground leadership to key roles at the Pentagon. He also developed a strong background in homeland and border security, which he used to lead law enforcement efforts to thwart terrorism and as an expert in academia.
At the VA, he will be working closely with Secretary Eric Shinseki and W. Scott Gould. His duties also cross over to the Department of Homeland Security, where he will work with Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Riojas has not made public donations to election campaigns, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.