Principi has already served as deputy secretary of the department he is now poised to lead. Principi was deputy secretary under former President Bush, and in 1992 served as the Veterans Affairs department’s acting secretary.
Principi, a combat-decorated Vietnam War veteran, has also been chairman of the Commission of Service Members and Veterans Transition Assistance, where he reviewed services to veterans.
He served as Republican chief counsel and staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Principi is also president of a wireless telecommunications company based in San Diego.
In Vietnam Principi was unit commander of a River Patrol Force in the Mekong Delta. Among several decorations, he earned the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for valor, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and the Navy Combat Action medal.
Principi is a 1967 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and earned a law degree from Seton Hall University in 1975.