Chuck Hagel is ceremonially sworn in as Secretary of Defense by Vice President Joseph Biden. (LARRY DOWNING/REUTERS)

You might recall that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had a rather unpleasant Senate confirmation process.

Even though he was back among friends in his old stomping grounds, he was subjected to intense grilling, questions about his patriotism, and a hearing in which his performance was roundly panned. Words like “defensive, frustrated, and lethargic” were used to describe it.

But the experience doesn’t appear to have left any deep scars on the tough guy — in fact, he’s even able to joke about it. During his ceremonial swearing-in ceremony on Thursday, during which Vice President Biden administered his oath of office, Hagel cracked this funny after thanking the crowd for the warm welcome and applause: “Last time I received something quite like this was in the United States Senate in my confirmation hearing.”

Of course there was more laughter.

“I’m a better person for it,” Hagel concluded.