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The United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs exercises control of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Secretary is appointed by the President of the United States of America and is one of 15 cabinet members. The secretary is tasked with administering benefit programs for veterans, their families as well as their survivors. As of July 2011, the annual salary of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs is $199,700.
All 15 members of the president's cabinet are paid the same salary. Members receive an annual pay adjustment under the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, P.L. 101-194. Changes are made by utilizing the Employment Cost Index for private industry workers, minus 0.5 percent. However, due to economic constraints, federal employees paid on the executive schedule did not receive a salary increase on January 1, 2011 and will not receive an increase in 2012.
Under the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the next two highest positions in the department are the Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Chief of Staff. There are 17 senior leaders who also serve, including an Under Secretary for Benefits, an Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs, an Inspector General and an Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs. According to APP.com, salaries of some other VA members are not too far below what the Secretary makes. Per DataUniverse, as of 2010, John T. Gingrich, chief of staff, earns $179,700 annually and Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Benefits Michael Cardarelli earns $151,213.
Cabinet members are federal employees and participate in the Federal Employees Retirement System. This consists of Social Security benefits, a retirement plan and optional Thrift Savings Plan. All federal employees receive sick leave and vacation pay; health and life insurance benefits are partly funded by the federal government.
Eric K. Shinseki is the seventh secretary of Veterans Affairs and was sworn in to office on January 21, 2009. Appointed by President Barack H. Obama, Shinseki previously served as Chief of Staff, United States Army, from 1999 to 2003. The Hawaii native has a bachelor's degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was wounded on both of his tours in Vietnam. Shinseki has received numerous medals for distinguished service, including a Purple Heart, Legion of Merit and Defense Distinguished Service Medal.
- Senate.gov: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Officials:Process for Adjusting Pay and Current Salaries
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Eric K. Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Career Guide to Industries, 2010-11 Edition; Federal Government
- APP.com: DataUniverse, Federal Employees; 2010
- Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images