Post Senate Work
After much deliberation and multiple considerations of running for president over his time in Washington, D.C., in 2007 Hagel chose to step away from politics and not run for a third term in the Senate. However, he was not out of the government for long. Shortly after Hagel's last term in the Senate ended in early 2009, President Barack Obama asked the former Senate Foreign Relations Committee member to co-chair his Intelligence Advisory Board. Hagel had served alongside President Obama when they were both Senators, during which time Hagel influenced many of the new President's views, specifically related to foreign policy. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Hagel was selected to head his advisory board with David Boren.
Hagel worked on the President's Intelligence Advisory Board from 2009 until 2013, when he was nominated by President Obama to succeed Leon Panetta as U.S. Secretary of Defense. With experience and knowledge that included battle, Veterans Affairs work, running major projects and companies, and twelve years as a U.S. Senator, Hagel believed he could do the job well. Even with these skills, the former Senator had to jump through many hoops during the hearings for his confirmation. Hagel was harshly questioned for his position on the Iraq War as well as statements made while Senator on the state of Israel. Even with these challenges by his collegues, Hagel managed to be confirmed by the Senate with a vote of 58-41 and on February 27th, 2013, Chuck Hagel was sworn in as Secretary of Defense.
While he was only U.S. Secretary of Defense for two years, Hagel worked day in and day out to get the job done right. During his tenure, he directed significant steps to modernize America’s partnerships and alliances, advance the rebalance in Asia-Pacific, bolster support for European allies, and enhance defense cooperation in the Middle East while overseeing the end of America’s combat mission in Afghanistan. In addition, he led major initiatives for service members and their families, including increasing resources for suicide prevention, combating sexual assault, and accounting for missing personnel. Further, Secretary Hagel improved partnerships with the Department of Veterans Affairs, to include health record interoperability, service treatment record transferability, and continuity of mental health services and support. Secretary Hagel launched the Defense Innovation Initiative to better prepare the Pentagon for future threats, and enacted comprehensive reforms to the Nuclear Enterprise and Military Health system.
In 2015, Hagel stepped down as Secretary of Defense. On January 28, 2015 an Armed Forces Farewell Tribute in Honor of the 24th Secretary of Defense was held with remarks given by General Martin Dempsey, Vice President Joe Biden, and President Barack Obama. They all touched on Hagel's life of service to his country and the wonderful example that he set for them and everyone he's known. President Obama specifically noted that, "In an era of politics that too often descends into spectacle, [Hagel has] always served with decency and dignity." Hagel gave a speech as well thanking the President for his opportunity to serve as Secretary of Defense. He also thanked his family, his collegues, and all the men and women that served him during his time in office. He noted to the armed forces present that, "of all the many opportunities my life has given me, I am most proud of having once been a soldier. The lessons from my time in uniform about trust, responsibility, duty, judgment, and loyalty - I have carried these with me throughout my life."