Robert L. Wilkie

Robert L. Wilkie

Former Visiting Fellow, Center for National Defense

Robert L. Wilkie, former secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, was a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

This expert is no longer a staff member at The Heritage Foundation.

Robert L. Wilkie, former secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, joined The Heritage Foundation as a visiting fellow in the Center for National Defense, part of the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy. As a visiting fellow with the center, Wilkie provided vital research and analysis on improving veterans programs, promoting military and national service, and improving defense personnel programs.

Wilkie was confirmed as VA secretary by the U.S. Senate on July 23, 2018, and served in the position until January 2021. Prior to his confirmation, he served as under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness under Defense Secretary James Mattis. In this role, he was the DOD’s principal adviser on total force management issues, including readiness, National Guard and Reserve component affairs, health affairs, training, personnel requirements, and quality of life for military families, to name just a few.

In his time as VA secretary, Wilkie helped improve the agency’s performance addressing the needs of America’s approximately 9.5 million veterans. Trust in VA health care outpatient services rose to 90% among veterans during his tenure as secretary. Wilkie also oversaw implementation of the MISSION Act, which provided more veterans access to care and services in their communities. He also helped modernize VA’s health record system and concentrated attention on suicide prevention, opioid addiction, and educational opportunities for veterans.

The son of an Army artillery commander, Wilkie is also a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. Before joining the Air Force, he served in the U.S. Navy Reserve with the Joint Forces Intelligence Command, Naval Special Warfare Group Two, and the Office of Naval Intelligence. Secretary Wilkie served in the staff of the National Security Council and assistant secretary of defense in the George W. Bush administration. He also has extensive experience working on Capitol Hill, including service as senior adviser to Sen. Thom Tillis, and counsel and adviser on international security affairs to former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.


Change the European Chessboard on Russia Robert L. Wilkie

Feb 3, 2022 2 min read


America Under Siege: Teddy Roosevelt Is Only the Latest Casualty Robert L. Wilkie

Jan 28, 2022 3 min read


Is America’s Military Ready To Face Rising Dictatorships? Robert L. Wilkie

Dec 8, 2021 3 min read


The United States Can Shape China’s Collapse Robert L. Wilkie

Nov 12, 2021 5 min read


How We Can Best Support Our Veterans Robert L. Wilkie

Nov 12, 2021 3 min read


Will the U.S. Be Begging on Bragg Boulevard Again? Robert L. Wilkie

Nov 4, 2021 4 min read


America Needs a Grand Strategy Robert L. Wilkie

Nov 3, 2021 11 min read


As Taiwan Goes, so Goes the World Robert L. Wilkie

Oct 29, 2021 2 min read


How Donald Rumsfeld Helped Save the Presidency Robert L. Wilkie

Sep 2, 2021 3 min read


The U.S.-UK Special Relationship After the Fall of Kabul Robert L. Wilkie

Aug 31, 2021 2 min read