Topics: Veterans Affairs

Petition seeks to nominate Marine legend James Mattis as Veterans Affairs secretary

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Army,Marine Corps,Veterans Affairs,Veterans,Eric Shinseki,Spencer Brown

Even after retiring, Marine Gen. James Mattis remains a popular figure with the troops -- so it's no surprise that many want him to fix the Department of Veterans Affairs.

A new whitehouse.gov petition, "Nominate Gen. James Mattis as Secretary of Veterans Affairs" was created May 19 and at time of writing had gathered 51 of the 100,000 signatures needed to receive an official response.

Of course, the VA already has a secretary, retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, who received a vote of confidence Wednesday from President Obama after a meeting at the White House. But there's growing political pressure for Shinseki to be replaced as reports of problems with VA medical care mount, so there may yet be an opening.

In more than four decades as a Marine, Mattis developed a reputation as a fierce fighter and a no-nonsense leader, retiring in 2013 after three years at the head of U.S. Central Command.

Part of Mattis' popularity among our military is his outspoken manner and frequently-voiced belief in the superiority of U.S. service members. "Demonstrate to the world there is 'No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy' than a U.S. Marine," he wrote in a letter to Marines as they prepared to go into Iraq in 2003.

He isn't likely to take the relatively passive approach Shinseki has used as the scandal mounts, having once said: "I don't lose any sleep at night over the potential for failure. I cannot even spell the word."

The petition to nominate Mattis has until June 18 to collect the necessary signatures.

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