Vets see promise in Hagel and his short VA tenure

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Chuck Hagel
(image by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Hagel's actions at the VA 30 years ago, together with his experience as a combat-wounded Army sergeant in Vietnam, would give him unusual credibility at the Pentagon, according to veterans' advocates, something they say could help him tackle some of the military's biggest problems, including military suicide and long-standing turf battles between two of Washington's largest bureaucracies: the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. "There's widespread support across the veteran community for Chuck Hagel," said Paul Rieckhoff, founder and chief executive of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "In many ways, he's a grunt, which is something I say as a positive thing."

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