FRANKFORT - Gov. Steve Beshear announced Friday that Heather French Henry of Louisville will become commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, replacing Ken Lucas, who's been asked by the governor to oversee to completion the construction of the state's fourth veterans nursing home in Radcliff.
Beshear appointed Lucas as commissioner of KDVA in February 2009.
"Commissioner Lucas has done an outstanding job these last five years working with my administration and the veterans community across Kentucky," Beshear said in a statement. "I am pleased he will continue his service to the Commonwealth on a part-time basis and oversee the completion of our fourth veterans nursing home in Radcliff. He has worked tirelessly for our veterans on this project from its very beginning, and I'm glad he'll see it through to its opening."
The governor's appointment of Henry is part of his ongoing commitment to help Kentucky veterans and their families, a news release said.
"Heather is highly motivated and has vast experience assisting and creating programs for veterans throughout the Commonwealth and the nation," Beshear said. "As the department's new commissioner, she will continue our mission to raise awareness and offer services to our veterans."
Henry, a longtime advocate for veterans affairs, started the Heather French Foundation for Veterans in December 1999, shortly after being crowned Miss America 2000 in September 1999. Her foundation partners with public and private organizations to assist veterans and their families.
Henry, who will start as commissioner July 1, has received numerous awards and recognitions for her work and advocacy on behalf of veteran's issues.
In 2001, the U.S. Congress passed the Heather French Henry Homeless Veterans Assistance Act, bipartisan legislation focusing on the eradication of homelessness among veterans nationwide, especially homeless female veterans.
"I greatly appreciate Gov. Beshear's confidence in my experience as a national veterans advocate and look forward to continuing my work as the commissioner to serve the veterans of the Commonwealth and their families," Henry said. "Honoring our veterans has been and will always be my life's mission, and I am honored that I can serve them in this way."
Henry holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.
As commissioner, Henry will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the department, as well as the coordination of 18 statewide field office locations, health care outreach and cemetery services.