PHOENIX - A one-plus-term Republican lawmaker from Tucson has been named by Gov. Jan Brewer to head the state Department of Veterans' Services.
Ted Vogt, who lost his re-election bid last year, replaces Joey Strickland. Brewer fired Strickland amid a flap over his plans to hire another former Tucson GOP legislator, Terri Proud, to work on programs for women at the agency - a hiring that gubernatorial press aide Matthew Benson said Strickland was told not to make.
Benson said Vogt is a good choice for the agency, citing his "extensive military experience," which includes six years in the Air Force, handling counterterrorism and threat information in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
Benson also cited Vogt's time in the Legislature, saying that makes him familiar with the public policy issues the agency will face. He also is an attorney in private practice.
The agency is responsible for operating nursing homes for veterans in Phoenix and Tucson. It also has a network of counselors to help veterans access their federal benefits and provides fiduciary services for veterans who are unable to handle their own finances.
Vogt, who said he was considering a run for political office in 2014, said he feels he can do better public service heading the agency.
"With Iraq drawing to a close in December of 2014, and when you look at the declining defense budget, we're going to have one of the largest demobilizations in recent history," he said. "We're going to have a lot of vets that are going to be coming into the civilian workforce and be transitioning out to civilian life."
Benson also noted Vogt is a disabled veteran, a point Vogt downplayed, saying his disability was diagnosed at the end of his military service when doctors found damage to his knees, ankles and feet. "It's not like people who are getting wounded," he said.
Vogt was appointed in 2010 to replace Frank Antenori, who moved to the state Senate after Jonathan Paton quit to make an unsuccessful run for Congress. He was elected to his own full two-year term later that year, but redistricting moved him to a district that was more favorable to Democrats, and he lost his bid for re-election.
"Ted's military background and management experience make him uniquely qualified for this position," Brewer said in a prepared statement.