By Kevin Cirilli - 05/31/14 03:04 PM EDT
Eric ShinsekiEric ShinsekiVeterans group blasts VA secretary, despite words of regret Cruz: VA secretary 'should resign' VA secretary refuses to apologize for Disney comments MORE is out. So who will take the top spot at the Department of Veterans Affairs?
President Obama named Sloan D. Gibson as the acting head of the agency after Shinseki resigned on Friday. Whether or not Gibson will become Obama's "go-to guy" on the widening scandal remains to be seen.
Here are a few potential names Obama might select:
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.)
A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Reed could prove an ally to Obama in helping cool the bipartisan criticism coming from Congress about the scandal.
"He's been an enormous advocate for veterans," said Alex Nicholson, legislative director at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
Reed, who is a West Point alum and served as an Army ranger, comes from a blue state, so if he were appointed, it wouldn't likely cost Democrats a Senate seat.
"I think Reed would get quite a lot of bipartisan support," said Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the right-leaning Cato Institute. "He's very popular among his colleagues."
Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal
Who better to lead an agency in desperate need of a comeback than someone whose ready for a comeback of his own?
McChrystal resigned from his position as a top commander in the Afghanistan war after he made critical remarks about Vice President Joe Biden in an interview with Rolling Stone.
"He is much more dynamic than Shinseki," said Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and author of Serving America’s Veterans. "McChrystal is fearless. And he's honest -- that's what got him into trouble in the first place."
Retired Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli
Chiarelli served in the Obama administration as the former vice chief for the Army. He's now a retired four-star general, but has stayed active in veterans' issues.
Chiarelli has advocated for mental health reform for Veterans as the executive director at One Mind, Nicholson said.
"We think that's a growing issue that the V.A. is going to have to deal with," he said. "Chiarelli is a forward thinker."
Retired Admiral Michael Mullen
Mullen chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff in both the Bush and Obama administrations.
Then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates personally recommended to Obama that Mullen stay on from the Bush administration as chairman, and Obama listened.
Gates says if Obama taps Mullen, he comes packed with military and political connections that could help bring about change to the V.A.
"Chiarelli and Mullen have great backgrounds for this position," Nicholson said, "and are both trusted and respected."
Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.)
Walz is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress.
And as a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, he's had a front seat to the current scandal.
"He’s tough, if not tougher, during the hearings than some of the republicans," Nicholson said.