Veterans advocate and Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth met with GOP President-elect Donald Trump Tuesday morning for the position of secretary of veterans affairs, a source familiar with the nature of the meeting told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The transcript of the Trump transition team call both Monday and Tuesday noted that Hegseth was set to meet with Trump Tuesday, though Sean Spicer, communications director for the Republican National Committee, did not provide any details on the meeting. Spicer did, however, flub Hegseth’s title.
In the call, Spicer referred to Hegseth as the current CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, a policy organization focused on veterans issues. Hegseth resigned from that post in January after serving in that role since July, 2012.
After the meeting, Hegseth could be seen in an Associated Press photo exiting Trump Tower in Manhattan with a copy of Concerned Veterans for America’s Fixing Veterans Health Care Task Force policy proposal for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reform in hand.
Hegseth, himself an Army veteran, backed Trump during his campaign and openly criticized the Obama administration over its treatment of veterans.
As part of the Army National Guard, Hegseth deployed to Guantanamo Bay and to Iraq, where he served in the 101st Airborne Division, and then once to Afghanistan as a counterinsurgency trainer.
“He’s remained very vocal on veterans’ issues and has continued to be a big ally in the fight to reform the VA,” Dan Caldwell, vice president of policy and communications at Concerned Veterans for America, told TheDCNF.
“While he was at CVA, he helped grow the organization into what it is now and played a key role in developing our comprehensive VA reform proposal and also helped develop some of the legislation we supported to make it easier to fire bad VA employees,” Caldwell added.
CVA noted that it neither endorses nor opposes any candidate for VA secretary.
But Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, was less than thrilled about the prospect of Hegseth as secretary of the VA.
“For over a decade, IAVA members have worked with Presidents and elected leaders from both sides of the aisle and we look forward to doing the same with the Trump Administration,” Rieckhoff told TheDCNF. “We noted Mr. Trump’s consistent advocacy for veterans during his campaign, are optimistic that veterans will be a high priority during his presidency and look forward to ensuring they will be.”
“However, we are extremely concerned that President-elect Trump has yet to meet publicly with a single leader of any of the established national veterans organizations or The Military Coalition (TMC) groups. Instead, Mr. Trump’s first publicized meeting on veterans issues is with the leader of a controversial and partisan political group,” Rieckhoff said, referring to CVA’s right-leaning stances on health care reform.
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