Veterans secretary pushing to get equal benefit access to rural vets

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's veterans' hospital got a visit Tuesday from the U.S. Secretary of Veteran's Affairs.

Secretary Eric Shinseki is visiting Utah as part of a tour of the western states. It was his first visit to Utah since his appointment by President Obama in December 2008.

Who is... Eric Shinseki?
Retired U.S. Army General Eric K. Shinseki was nominated by President Barack Obama on December 7, 2008 to serve as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He was confirmed by the Senate on January 20, 2009, and sworn in as the seventh Secretary of Veteran Affairs the following day. Previously he served as Chief of Staff, United States Army, from 1999 to June 11, 2003, and retired from active duty on August 1, 2003.

Shinseki said Utah's geography presents challenges for veterans across the state who live in rural areas and can't get the medical attention they need.

Shinseki announced a new rural health director, who has experience in Native American health services. That experience, he said, will be of particular importance to Utah's vets.

"We want to ensure there's a level playing field here, that a veteran that lives in a highly-rural area and a veteran that lives in Washington, D.C., will have the same kind of access," Shinseki said.

The secretary will be in Utah only one day before he continues the rest of his tour.


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Jennifer Stagg


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