Chuck Hagel biography
Chuck Hagel was born on October 4, 1946, in North Platte, Nebraska. From 1971 to 1977 he worked for Representative John McCollister. In 1981 he was appointed deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration. In the mid-1980s, he cofounded Vanguard Cellular Systems. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 and re-elected in 2002, retiring in 2008. In 2013, he was nominated as secretary of defense.
Chuck Hagel was born Charles Timothy Hagel on October 4, 1946, in North Platte, Nebraska. Raised in the Sand Hills and rural towns of western Nebraska, Hagel lost his father when he was just 16 years old. Having taken his first job at the tender age of 9, the young Hagel was no stranger to work. Following his father’s death, he helped support the family.
When Hagel graduated from St. Bonaventure High School, he decided to pursue his interest in broadcasting. In 1966, he enrolled at the Brown Institute for Radio and Television in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but dropped out a year later to serve in the Army during the Vietnam War. He was wounded twice while serving, incurring burn wounds that would take years to fully heal. Hagel earned two Purple Hearts for his bravery. After a year in Vietnam, he went back to school at the University of Nebraska, receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1971.
Concurrent with completing his education, Hagel entered a career in broadcasting. From 1969 to 1971, he worked at two Omaha radio stations—KBON and KLNG—as a newscaster, disc jockey and talk-show host. In 1971 he would temporarily take leave from his communications career to pursue politics. But Hagel hardly abandoned this passion entirely; in the mid-1980s he would cofound the publicly traded Vanguard Cellular Systems, which went on to become the second largest cell phone company in the country. He would also later become a member of the board of directors of the Public Broadcasting System.
Life in Politics
Hagel broke away from his budding radio career in 1971 to take a job under Republican Nebraska Representative John McCollister. Gradually, Hagel worked his way up to McCollister’s chief of staff. In 1977, after McCollister lost his Senate race, Hagel took up lobbying, managing government affairs for Firestone Tire & Rubber Company in Washington, D.C.
In 1981 President Ronald Reagan appointed Hagel deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration. During the 1982 World’s Fair, Hagel also took the role of deputy administrator of the United States.
Hagel began his campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1995, just after Senator Jim Exon announced his retirement. Upon making it to the Senate, Hagel strove for, and attained, a seat on the Foreign Relations Committee. In 1997 he supported the treaty against land mines. In 1999 he opposed the test-ban treaty but voted in favor of bombing Serbia that spring.
Preceding the 2000 presidential elections, Hagel supported John McCain in the primaries.
In 2002, Hagel was re-elected to the Senate, and attacked the George W. Bush administration for its Iraq War policies, voicing skepticism as to whether Iraq truly had access to weapons of mass destruction.
Following his retirement from the Senate in 2008, Hagel began teaching at Georgetown University. In January 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Hagel for secretary of defense. The following month, however, Senate Republicans filibustered the decision to move forward wtih Hagel's nomination by a vote of 58-39.
Hagel and his wife Lilibet have two children, a daughter named Allyn and a son named Ziller. In addition to his family life and work in politics and communications, Hagel serves on the boards of numerous institutions. He has been a trustee at Hastings College and Bellevue University. He has also served as co-chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Corporate Council.