VA Secretary-Designate agrees to visit Montana at Tester's request

Senator discusses Montana veterans' issues with Gen. Eric Shinseki

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – General Eric Shinseki has accepted Senator Jon Tester's invitation to visit Montana, should the retired four-star general be confirmed as the next U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

 Tester asked Shinseki to come to the Big Sky State during a meeting in Tester's Senate office. Shinseki replied, "I'll be there," if confirmed.

"I want Gen. Shinseki to see for himself the challenges rural veterans face in Montana—especially the distances they have to travel to get their health care," Tester said. "I look forward to working closely with Gen. Shinseki for a good while in the future. He's a qualified guy and a very capable choice to lead the VA."

The date for Shinseki's visit to Montana has not been scheduled.

During their meeting, Tester also discussed with Shinseki the need to improve VA benefits, the need for a third Vet Center in Montana, and the need for a new VA clinic in northeastern Montana.

Tester is Montana's only member of the Veterans Affairs Committee. The Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Shinseki on January 14.

President-Elect Barack Obama announced Shinseki as his choice for Veterans Affairs Secretary on Sunday.

Shinseki is a decorated, 38-year veteran of the U.S. Army. He served two tours in Vietnam after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Shinseki was the Army's Chief of Staff between 1999 and 2003. He has earned numerous medals including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

Tester invited the current VA Secretary, General James Peake, to Montana last February. Tester and Peake toured VA facilities and held listening sessions together in Billings and Helena.