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Veterans Management
In this Dec. 29, 2009 photo, Wisconsin Veterans Home at Union Grove Commandant Randy Nitschke, left, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Ken Black, right, address questions from residents at the Veterans Home in the Town of Dover, near Union Grove, Wis. In a complaint filed on June 17, 2010, Nitschke alleges that Black has an agenda to discriminate against white males in their 50s and 60s. Now the DVA may do a national search to replace Black.

The embattled head of the state Department of Veterans Affairs has resigned.

Secretary Ken Black submitted his letter of resignation to the Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs, effective Friday.

"I am honored to have led Wisconsin's Department of Veterans Affairs over the past 17 months," Black said in a statement. "It has been a sincere privilege to serve the men and women who sacrificed so much for this nation, and I want to thank the veterans community for this opportunity."

Black served as the department's head since November 24, 2009, after former secretary John Scocos was fired by the Board of Veterans Affairs. Scocos, who had returned from a tour in Iraq two months before his firing, then filed a lawsuit over his firing.

Like Scocos, Black's tenure has been marked by controversy. Complaints were filed that he was trying to phase older, white men out of the agency.

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Black was previously the deputy and acting secretary, as well as division administrator for the Division of Veterans Benefits. Black had been demoted by Scocos not long before being named as Scocos' replacement.

But Black did not address any of those controversies in announcing his retirement, and agency spokeswoman Kathleen Scholl said the department would not comment further on his departure.

"It is absolutely essential, especially at a time when we have troops in the field, that we do everything possible to support our military personnel and our veterans," Black said. "Wisconsin has a historic tradition of progressive action to support our veterans, and I know that the veterans community will continue to work collaboratively to protect that legacy and better serve our veterans."

Black also served 22 years on active duty with the United States Army, the department said.

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