Edward J. Derwinski (Born September 15, 1926) was the first United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs, serving under President George H.W. Bush from March 15, 1989 to September 26, 1992.
He served in the United States Army in the Pacific Theater during World War II and in the postwar U.S. occupation of Japan. He graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 1951. He is a celebrated member of Alpha Delta Gamma Fraternity. In 1957 he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives where he served one term before winning election to the United States House of Representatives in 1959. He would serve 11 terms as a Republican representative from the 4th District of Illinois, part of Chicago, eventually becoming ranking member of the House Foreign Relations Committee. He also served as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly 1971-1972 and as chairman of the U.S. delegation to the Interparliamentary Union from 1970-1972 and 1978-1980.
After losing his 1982 reelection bid, President Ronald Reagan appointed him Counselor to the U.S. State Department. In 1987, Reagan appointed him Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science and Technology, where he served until the end of Reagan's term, shortly after which he was selected to head the VA.
A Polish-American, he was noted for his efforts on behalf of Eastern Europe, and for focusing public attention on the Serbian anti-Axis general DraÅ¾a MihailoviÄ‡. He served as head of "Ethnic Americans for Dole/Kemp" during the 1996 U.S. presidential election. He currently serves on the board of the Hellenic American Heritage Council and other organizations. He currently resides in Glen Ellyn, Illinois with his wife, the former Bonita Hickey. He has two adult children from his first marriage to Patricia Derwinski, Maureen and Michael.