The executive head and appointing authority of the department shall be the director of veterans affairs. The director shall be an honorably discharged or retired veteran of the armed forces of the United States and shall be appointed by the governor with the consent of the senate and shall serve at the pleasure of the governor. The director shall be paid a salary to be fixed by the governor in accordance with the provisions of RCW 43.03.040
. If a vacancy occurs in the position of director while the senate is not in session, the governor shall make a temporary appointment until the next meeting of the senate, when the governor shall present the nomination for the office to that body.