On June 16, 2013 Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Rick Thompson Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance where he officially began serving in June, 2013.
Prior to his role as Cabinet Secretary and since 2007, Thompson served as Speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates. He was first elected to the Legislature in 1980 and was re-elected in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012. Throughout his time in the Legislature, Thompson was a strong advocate for veterans, supporting legislation that elevated the Division of Veterans Affairs to a cabinet level department and pushing bills to assist veteran students in their academic endeavors. During his tenure as Speaker, nearly 30 pieces of legislation in support of West Virginia veterans were adopted.
Thompson’s military service began in 1972 when he volunteered for the draft. He served on active duty in the United States Army until 1974 and on standby reserves from 1974 to 1978. During his military career, Thompson worked as an MP and was honorably discharged in 1978.
In addition, Thompson graduated from West Virginia University College of Law in 1978 after earning a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice from Marshall University. He completed his studies at both Marshall University and West Virginia University law school one year ahead of schedule and graduated with honors from both.
Upon graduating from law school, Thompson returned home to Wayne County to practice law. During his twenty-eight years as an attorney, he served his community in numerous capacities and developed a broad and varied legal background as he operated a general law practice that represented both small businesses and consumers in the Wayne, Cabell, Lincoln and Kanawha areas. In 1981, he became the assistant prosecuting attorney for Wayne County and in 1984 served as Wayne County divorce commissioner. Thompson also served on the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board from 1989 to 1997 and was the Chairman of the Board for the majority of that time.
The son of a coal miner and homemaker, Rick Thompson grew up in Fort Gay, West Virginia. His father, Richard, was killed in a Wayne County coal mine before Rick was born. Rick spent most of his childhood with his grandparents, Fred Thompson and the late Katie Thompson, who reared both him and his older brother.
Rick and his wife, Beth Chambers Thompson, live in Lavalette. They have four children, Wesley, Rachel, Wade, and Dalton, and four grandchildren.