Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Denis McDonough

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Denis Richard McDonough was born in December 1969 in Stillwater, Minnesota. He earned an undergraduate degree in history and Spanish from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and later earned an M.S.F.S. degree at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. 

He worked as an aide for the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, focusing on Latin America which he had traveled through extensively. He then served as a senior policy advisor to a member of the Senate, later becoming legislative director for another senator. 

He served as a senior foreign policy advisor to President Barack Obama and later joined the National Security Council as head of strategic communication. He also served as National Security Council chief of staff. 

Returning to private life he joined a nonprofit foundation and was later a professor at Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs and a visiting senior fellow in Georgetown’s Technology and International Affairs Program. 

He was nominated by President Joe Biden to be the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in in February 2021. 

McDonough is married to Karin Hillstrom and they have three children. 

In the News…

The Department of Veterans Affairs is working on a study that focuses on racial disparities in benefits claims decisions. “The kind of data that we’ve been looking into is unacceptable, and it’s unacceptable to the president,” stated Secretary Denis McDonough. 

A lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Connecticut states that the VA disproportionately rejected disability compensation claims from Black veterans over those of white veterans between 2001 and 2020. The lawsuit states that its data comes from the VA through the Freedom of Information Act. 

“This is an issue that we’ve been pressing on with some urgency now for some time, but we’re also not waiting for the conclusion of that study to take action,” Secretary McDonough said. 

Contact this Leader…

Did you pray for Secretary McDonough? You can let him know at:

The Honorable Denis McDonough, Secretary 
Department of Veterans Affairs 
810 Vermont Ave NW 
Washington, DC 20006 


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