Thursday's guest: Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel

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Chuck Hagel was elected United States Senator from Nebraska on November 5, 1996.

He is a member of five Senate committees: Foreign Relations; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Energy and Natural Resources, Budget and Aging.  On the Foreign Relations Committee, he is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and on the Banking Committee he serves as the ranking member of the Subcommittee on International Trade and Finance.

Hagel has served as a deputy whip for the Republican Majority since his election to the Senate.  He has been chairman of both the Senate Global Climate Change Observer Group and the Senate Government Oversight Task Force.  Hagel also serves on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and the NATO Observer Group.

Hagel is a 2001 recipient of the Horatio Alger Award from the Horatio Alger Association. He is also the recipient of the 2001 Patriot "Good Scout" Award from the Boy Scouts of America. Hagel was presented the Headliner Award for 2000 from the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.

A Vietnam veteran himself, the Vietnam Veterans of America honored Hagel with their 2000 Legislator of the Year Award, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Consumers for World Trade. Among some of the other awards Hagel has received for his service in the Senate are the Center for the Study of the Presidency's Distinguished Service Medal, the American Farm Bureau Federation's Golden Plow Award and the Friend of the Farm Bureau Award, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Distinguished Public Service Award, the Ripon Society's prestigious Rough Rider Award and the American-Turkish Council's (ATC) Distinguished Leadership Award.

Hagel is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, the Senior Advisory Committee of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University, and the Board of the International Republican Institute.

Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Hagel worked in the private sector as the President of McCarthy & Company, an investment banking firm based in Omaha, Nebraska. Before joining McCarthy & Co., Hagel was president and chief executive officer of the Private Sector Council (PSC) in Washington, D.C.

Hagel gained experience in global affairs by serving as Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of the 1990 Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations (G-7 Summit) and as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the World USO, where he received the Secretary of Defense's Medal for Outstanding Civic Achievement and the first ever World USO Leadership Award.

In the mid-1980's, Hagel co-founded VANGUARD Cellular Systems, Inc., a publicly traded corporation. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Hagel to serve as deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration, a nomination confirmed by the United States Senate. Hagel also served as deputy commissioner general of the United States for the 1982 World's Fair.

From 1977 through 1980, Hagel was manager of government affairs for The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company, in Washington, D.C.  From 1971 to 1977, he was administrative assistant to Nebraska Republican Rep. John Y. McCollister. Beginning in 1969, Hagel worked as a newscaster and talk show host with radio stations KBON and KLNG in Omaha, Nebraska.

Hagel has served on the Board of Trustees Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust and as chairman of the $240 million Agent Orange Settlement Fund. 

Hagel served in Vietnam with his brother Tom in 1968. They served side by side as infantry squad leaders with the U.S. Army's 9th Infantry Division. Hagel earned many military decorations and honors, including two Purple Hearts.

Hagel has received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and an Honorary Doctorate of Commerce from Bellevue University.

A fourth generation Nebraskan, Hagel was born in North Platte, Nebraska in October 1946. He graduated from St. Bonaventure High School, Columbus, Nebraska; the Brown Institute for Radio and Television, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Hagel and his wife, Lilibet, have two children.