By Debbie Gregory.
On September 18th, California Governor Jerry Brown announced the appointment of the new secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet). Colonel Vito Imbasciani, a 69-year-old Los Angeles urologic surgeon and Kaiser Permanente executive, is poised to fill the position left vacant by the previous acting secretary, Debbie Endsley.
Endsley was appointed acting secretary of CalVet in January, 2015. Endsley had replaced Peter J. Gravett upon his retirement.
Colonel Imbasciani is president-elect of the Los Angeles County Medical Association, and a member of the California Medical Association Board of Trustees and the California Association of Physician Groups Board of Directors. He has also served as the director of government relations at Southern California Kaiser Permanente Medical Group since 2004.
He was the state surgeon for the California Army National Guard from 2006 to 2014, and also served as a surgeon in the U.S. Army Medical Corps from 1986 to 2014.
Colonel Imbasciani earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Vermont. In addition, he holds a Doctor of Philosophy and a Master of Arts degree in musicology from Cornell University. He also speaks multiple languages, including Spanish, French, German and Italian.
A long time LGBT supporter, Colonel Imbasciani served under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but he was always working as an activist to repeal the policy. He badgered the staff of Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “to stand up to the generals who didn’t want any part of ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’” He also approached every member of Congress on the House and Senate Armed Services Committee, through their staff members, “giving them my story and sort of tantalizing them with the willingness to appear before Congress under my constitutional right as a solider to redress grievances. And to let them know the difficulties of being a gay man in uniform and the terrible loss of talent and the terrible expense that the military has to go through in replacing these highly qualified [experts].”
Colonel Imbasciani’s appointment to the position requires confirmation by the state Senate.