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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

VA has new top attorney

The Department of Veterans Affairs has a new general counsel and he's a former Air Force colonel.

Attorney Will A. Gunn took the oath of office Tuesday as General Counsel of the Department of Veterans Affairs following his recent Senate confirmation.

"I'm thrilled by the opportunity to serve as VA's General Counsel," Gunn said in a release. "I'm also humbled and deeply honored by the confidence that President Obama and Secretary Shinseki have shown in me with this appointment.

Gunn oversees and office with a nationwide staff of more than 700 employees, including 460 attorneys. As general counsel, Gunn is tasked with ensuring the faithful execution of the laws, regulations and policies that VA administers.

The General Counsel's interpretations on legal matters further VA's mission of service to the nation's veterans with written opinions on adjudications and appeals involving veterans' benefits under laws administered by VA.

Operating through seven professional staff groups in Washington plus 22 regional counsel offices across the United States, the office provides VA representation before administrative and judicial forums, offers formal and informal legal and ethics advice, and drafts and advocates legislation affecting veterans.

Gunn, an attorney who at the time of his nomination represented military members and veterans in private practice in northern Virginia, retired from the Air Force in 2005, where he served as a colonel in the Judge Advocate General's Corps.

A former White House fellow, he received the American Bar Association's Outstanding Career Military Lawyer Award. In 2003, he was named the first chief defense counsel in the Department of Defense's Office of Military Commissions, building a defense team and supervising defense activities for detainees selected for trial before military commissions to ensure they received effective representation.

A native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Gunn is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and is a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. While at Harvard, he was elected president of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, the nation's oldest student-run legal services organization.

He also has a master's degree in environmental law from George Washington University School of Law and a master of science degree in national resource strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Gunn has been chair of the American Bar Association's Commission on Youth at Risk and served on the board of Christian Service Charities. In 2005, he was named president and chief executive officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.

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I grew up in the military. Mom was an Air Force nurse for a few years, dad was a navigator on B-52s, among other things. One grandfather served in World War II, uncle is retired Navy, other grandfather and great-uncle served in Korea and a cousin is currently serving in the Marine Corps. Currently, I'm the military reporter for the Great Falls Tribune in Montana. Previously, 


As a military kids, we moved all over. As an adult, I've traveled all over and moved for work. But now, I'm putting down roots in Montana with my boyfriend. We just bought a house and are slowly but surely making it our home. We have more land that we know what to do with at the moment. Now we're getting a garden started, tearing down walls and having loads of fun at what we call the Homestead.

In a part life, I did PR for the guy who built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, social media for the National Museum of Health and Medicine, before that, edited two military technology magazines for a publishing group in the DC area and before that, I was the military reporter (among other things) at the Montgomery Advertiser, covering Maxwell Air Force Base, the Alabama National Guard, veterans and anything else military related in the area. And in between all of that, I leave town, preferably the country, whenever possible. It all started when I spent a semester in New Zealand.

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