Who is Robert Wilkie? 4 things to know about Trump's Veterans Affairs secretary nominee

Robert Wilkie has served as acting secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs since March -- and President Trump wants to make his position permanent.

Trump officially nominated Wilkie to lead the massive and embattled agency on May 18. The president said the announcement came as a surprise to Wilkie.

Wilkie, 55, has led the department in his interim capacity after Trump announced his decision to replace David Shulkin in March. Then, Trump said he intended to nominate presidential physician, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, to lead Veterans Affairs, but Jackson eventually withdrew his name from consideration following controversy.

Read on for a look at four things to know about the Wilkie.

He served in the Air Force and Navy

Wilkie served in the United States Naval Reserve, according to his Defense Department biography.

He would later join the Air Force as a reserve officer and was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Staff, his biography said.

He holds a masters in strategic studies from the United States Army War College. Wilkie is also a graduate of Wake Forest University, Georgetown University and Loyola University in New Orleans.

He is also the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness

Wilkie took over as Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness in November 2017. According to his Defense Department biography, he advises the Secretary of Defense for Total Force Management on the National Guard, training, health issues and personnel requirements.

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In 2005, Wilkie was tapped to serve as assistant secretary of the Defense Department. He was the youngest senior leader in the department at the time, his biography states.

He worked for a massive engineering firm

Wilkie was vice president for strategic programs for CH2M HILL, a global engineering company, from 2010 to 2015, according to the Raleigh News & Observer

Some of his assignments included reforming the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense Supply and Logistics System, his biography explains.

Wilkie also worked on the Hill

Wilkie worked for Sen. Trent Lott, then the Majority Leader, from 1997 to 2003, according to the News & Observer. He also served as an aide to former Sen. Jesse Helms and former Rep. David Funderburk.

Additionally, Wilkie was executive director of the North Carolina GOP, the newspaper reported. 

In 1996, Wilkie unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for Congress, the News & Observer reported.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.