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James B. Peake
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
James Peake, M.D., was nominated by President George W. Bush to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs on October 30, 2007, and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on December 14, 2007. He was sworn into office on December 20, 2007.
Dr. Peake is the principal advocate for veterans in the U.S. government and directs the nation’s second largest Cabinet Department, responsible for a nationwide system of health care services, benefits programs, and national cemeteries for America’s veterans and dependents. VA employs more than 250,000 people at hundreds of medical centers, nursing homes, benefits offices, and national cemeteries throughout the country. VA’s budget for fiscal year 2007 is $77.3 billion.
A St. Louis, Mo., native, Peake received his Bachelor of Science degree from U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1966 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Infantry. Following service in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division where he was awarded the Silver Star, a Bronze Star with “V” device and the Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster, Peake entered medical school at Cornell University in New York. He was awarded a medical doctorate in 1972.
Peake began his Army medical career as a general surgery resident at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He retired from the Army in 2004, following service as a cardiac surgeon and commander in several medical posts culminating in his appointment as U.S. Army Surgeon General from 2000 to 2004. As Army Surgeon General, Peake commanded 50,000 medical personnel and 187 army medical facilities worldwide. Prior to that, he served as Commanding General of the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School, the largest medical training facility in the world with more than 30,000 students annually.
After retiring as a Lieutenant General, Peake served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Project Hope, a non-profit international health foundation operating in more than 30 countries. Just prior to his nomination as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Peake served as a member of the Board of Directors for QTC, one of the largest private providers of government-outsourced occupational health and disability examination services in the nation.
Dr. Peake is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and the American College of Cardiology. He has been honored with the Order of Military Merit; the “A” Professional Designator; and the Medallion, Surgeon General of the United States.