Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Hershel Gober (2000–2001): Secretary of Veterans' Affairs

Hershel Wayne Gober was born in 1936 in Monticello, Arkansas. He earned a B.A. from Alaska Methodist University (now Alaska Pacific University), where he graduated with high honors.

Gober served in both the Army and the Marines, fulfilled two tours of duty in Vietnam, and earned the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Soldier's Medal before retiring in 1978 as a major. He was subsequently inducted into the Infantry Officers' Candidate Hall of Fame.

After leaving the military, Gober served as the supervising director of the Northwest Pipeline Corporation from 1978 to 1983 before becoming an instructor at the Junior Reserve Officers Corps in Arkansas. In 1988, Governor Bill Clinton appointed him director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans' Affairs, a post he held until he became President Bill Clinton's deputy secretary of veterans affairs in 1993.

In 1997, Clinton nominated Gober to become secretary of veterans affairs, but Gober withdrew his nomination amidst allegations of sexual harassment and remained deputy secretary. In 2000, when the job became available once again, Clinton again tapped him to become secretary, and Gober served in that capacity for the last months of the Clinton presidency.