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Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today announced the appointment of Speaker Rick Thompson as Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Veterans Assistance. The appointment will be effective following the retirement of Secretary Keith Gwinn.
"I want to take this opportunity to thank Secretary Gwinn, our first Secretary of The Department of Veterans Assistance, for his service to our state and his enthusiastic commitment to our veterans," Gov. Tomblin said. "Secretary Gwinn accomplished much during his tenure, including his role in helping to secure the largest federal grant for a state veteran's cemetery. I'm truly grateful for his service."
Secretary Gwinn will step down mid-June due to health concerns, and Speaker Thompson's appointment will be effective upon Secretary Gwinn's retirement.
"I'm pleased Speaker Thompson has accepted this opportunity to serve our state's veterans. Throughout the years, he has demonstrated a strong commitment to the people of our state, especially our veterans. This past session Speaker Thompson pushed legislation, which will provide advocates for our veteran students. He also worked to ensure policies are put into place to make sure our veterans are provided flexibility to complete their courses following a call to active duty."
Thompson began his career in public service as a member of the U.S. Army-serving on active duty from 1972 through 1974 and serving on standby reserves from 1974 through 1978. He was honorably discharged 1978. During his military career, he served as an MP. Thompson was elected to the State Legislature in 2000 and has served as Speaker of the House since 2007. Thompson is a life member of American Legion Post 93, in Kenova, W.Va.
"I've enjoyed serving our state as a legislator and as Speaker of the House. Throughout my years in public service, I've championed for our veterans-supporting a number of bills that honor and further assist these brave men and women," Speaker Thompson said. "I look forward to working with the staff at our state's veterans' facilities, collaborating with our many veterans organizations across the state as well as ensuring we continue to provide support to the men and women who have served our state and nation. Our state's veterans exemplify our proud history of service and I'm honored for this opportunity to serve them."
"The pleasure I experienced from serving my state and nation in the U. S. Navy has only been matched by the pleasure of serving my fellow veterans as Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance," Secretary Gwinn said. "It has been an honor to work alongside some of our state's most patriotic individuals and a blessing to touch the lives of so many military heroes. By working together we have accomplished a great deal, yet there is always more than can be done. I regret that my health inhibits me from continuing my service as Cabinet Secretary, but I am confident that if our citizens, communities, and leaders remain committed to veterans and their families, West Virginia will always be the most patriotic state in the nation."
Amy Shuler Goodwin