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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

 

Cooper Sworn In for Top VA Benefits Position

April 2, 2002, 08:00:00 AM

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WASHINGTON -- Retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Daniel L. Cooper today was sworn in as the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) next Under Secretary for Benefits.

"President Bush's commitment to make the processing of applications for veterans' benefits faster, easier and more accurate took a major step forward today with the swearing in of Admiral Cooper," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi.  "At such a critical time in the evolution of our benefits system, I'm delighted to have someone of his character and dedication as part of our team."

As Under Secretary, Cooper is the principal advisor to the Secretary on all veterans' benefits issues including disability compensation, pension, education, guaranteed home loans, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and life insurance.

He is responsible for a workforce of more than 12,000 employees at 57 VA regional offices that are located in each state, as well as the District of ColumbiaPuerto Rico and the Philippines.

"I desire to leave no doubt in the mind of every employee, of both the gravity of the 'backlog' problem and the direction in which [we] must go to attack it," Cooper said at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  "The emphasis will always be to do what is best to serve the veteran."  

In 2001 at Secretary Principi's request, Cooper chaired the VA Claims Processing Task Force that examined a wide range of issues affecting the timely processing of claims.  The resulting report produced recommendations ranging from improving medical examinations to better use of information technology, all keyed to shrinking the backlog and increasing the accuracy of decisions.  

The task force provided 34 recommendations to the Secretary in October 2001, and a systematic implementation of the recommendations has begun.

While Cooper emphasized the importance of "accountability, integrity and professionalism" as the principles by which he will operate during his tenure, he was pleased to acknowledge the "strong cadre of superb, dedicated, and enthusiastic people in the Veterans Benefits Administration."

Cooper, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, spent 33 years on active duty.  He had served as the Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, and as the Navy’s budget officer.  He retired with three-star rank in 1991 as the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Undersea Warfare.

Cooper's post-military career has included the nuclear services division of Gilbert Commonwealth.  He has also been on the board of directors for United Services Automobile Association (USAA) and the EXELON Corporation.

He and his wife Betty are natives of East Liverpool, Ohio.  They have two children and six grandchildren.  They live in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.  

The Under Secretary for Benefits is appointed for a four-year term, subject to Senate confirmation.  Under federal law, the appointment is made without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of demonstrated ability and understanding both in fiscal management and in the administration of programs of the Veterans Benefits Administration or of others of similar content and scope.

Cooper succeeds Acting Under Secretary for Benefits Guy H. McMichael III, who has served in that capacity since September 2001.

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