Eric Ken Shinseki (pronounced /ʃɨnˈsɛki/; born November 28, 1942) is a retired United States Army four-star general who is currently serving as the 7th United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs. His final U.S. Army post was as the 34th Chief of Staff of the Army (1999–2003). He is a veteran of combat in Vietnam, having been left with a maimed foot.
Shinseki was born in Lihue, Kauai in the then Territory of Hawaii, to an American family of Japanese Ancestry. His grandparents immigrated from Hiroshima to Hawaii in 1901. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as a second lieutenant. He earned a Master of Arts degree in English Literature from Duke University. He was also educated at the Armor Officer Advanced Course, the United States Army Command and General Staff College, and the National War College.
Shinseki served in a variety of command and staff assignments in the Continental United States and overseas, including two combat tours with the 9th and 25th Infantry Divisions in the Republic of Vietnam as an artillery forward observer and as commander of Troop A, 3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment. During one of those tours, he stepped on a land mine, which blew the front off one of his feet.