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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs


James Byrne

Acting Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs

James Byrne Official Biography Image

The Honorable James Byrne was named the Acting Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs by President Donald Trump on August 28, 2018.  As Deputy Secretary, Mr. Byrne works closely with the Secretary in leading the operations of the federal government’s second-largest Cabinet department, with some 370,000 employees in VA medical centers, clinics, benefits offices, national cemeteries, and other facilities throughout the country.

Before his appointment as Deputy Secretary, Mr. Byrne served as VA’s General Counsel, leading a nationwide team of attorneys, paralegals, and staff who support the mission and priorities of the Department of Veterans Affairs by providing sound legal expertise, representation, and as needed, critical problem-solving skills and risk-management advice to the Secretary and other senior VA leaders.

Before arriving at VA, Mr. Byrne served as Associate General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer at Lockheed Martin Corporation where he was also the company’s lead cyber and counterintelligence attorney. Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, Mr. Byrne served as the career Senior Executive Service Deputy Special Counsel with the Office of the United States Special Counsel, and both General Counsel and Assistant Inspector General for Investigations with the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).

Prior to his service with SIGIR and soon after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Mr. Byrne was recalled to active duty for 18 months with the U.S. Marine Corps in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Lieutenant Colonel James Byrne was assigned as the Officer-in-charge of the Marine Liaison Office at the then National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, leading teams of Marines in DC-Metro area military hospitals and Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, responsible for supporting injured and deceased Marines, Sailors, and their families.

Mr. Byrne has over 20 years of experience in the public sector, including service as a forward deployed Marine Infantry Officer and a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) international narcotics prosecutor. Mr. Byrne’s professional honors include several DOJ awards and The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator’s Award for Exceptional Service. He is also a recipient of the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terrorism and several military decorations including the Meritorious Service Medal.

Mr. Byrne volunteers in his community, and has extensive experience on several non-profit and advisory boards. Until August 2017, his most recent professional engagements included service on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Board and the International Association of Privacy Professionals Board of Directors. For ten years, Mr. Byrne volunteered on the Executive Board of Give an Hour, a non-profit organization that has developed national networks of volunteer professionals capable of providing complimentary and confidential mental health services in response to both acute and chronic conditions that arise within our society, beginning with the mental health needs of post-9/11 veterans, service members and their families.

Mr. Byrne is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he received an engineering degree and ultimately held the top leadership position of Brigade Commander. He later earned his J.D. from Stetson University College of Law, St. Petersburg, Florida and started his legal career as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Malcolm J. Howard, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina.


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