The Voice | Issue 1 - Fiscal Year 2018 - Center for Minority Veterans (CMV)
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Center for Minority Veterans (CMV)


The Voice | Issue 1 - Fiscal Year 2018

VA Center for Minority Veterans Newsletter

In this Section: Newsletter Index  |  Subscribe for Updates
On this Page: Message from the Director |  Word from the Deputy Director  |  Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans  |  Center for Women Veterans 2017 National Women Veterans Summit Presentations |  #BorneTheBattle 54: Melissa Castillo  |  Filipino WWII Veterans Awarded Congressional Gold Medal  | Minority Veteran Program Coordinator (MVPC) Corner  |  November Events Honoring Veterans  |  West Point First Black Woman as First Captain  |  VAMobile - Veteran Appointment Request App
Message from the Director

By Barbara Ward, Director

As we begin a new fiscal year, I am pleased to announce that Dennis May has joined the CMV team as the Deputy Director. He officially started in his new role on October 1st and brings much knowledge and many years of valuable experience that will contribute to advancing VA’s mission in serving our Veterans.

As we reflect on FY 2017, CMV is proud of several key accomplishments and initiatives. We launched a very successful outreach campaign that increased minority Veteran enrollments in the Million Veteran Program. During Minority Health month in April, CMV collaborated with the Office of Health Equity to highlight minority Veteran health issues via a special edition newsletter, webinar and several blogs. The Minority Veterans Program Coordinators conducted targeted outreach activities to over 800,000 Veterans nationally.

Our collaborative partnership with Women Veterans Interactive, Inc. resulted in over 300 Veterans attending a Virtual Town Hall meeting in February. The CMV staff liaisons, significantly expanded their targeted outreach activities to minority Veterans through establishing new collaborative partnerships, conducting numerous “Lunch and Learn” sessions at federal agencies, stand downs, town hall meetings and participation at VSO conferences.

The Director and Deputy Director collaborated with representatives of the National Center of Veterans Analytics and Statistics to publish VA’s most comprehensive report on minority Veterans, “Minority Veterans Report: Military Service History and VA Benefit Utilization Statistics”. Interest in the report generated an interview by an NPR reporter in Los Angeles and discussions on radio stations such as the Veterans Voice in Kentucky. PBS will be airing a future documentary on Veterans from all war eras featuring stories of combat minority Veterans, recruited by the Center, to ensure that the diversity of the Veteran population is reflected. CMV supported the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans in the coordination and submission of its annual report to Congress, located on the Center’s website.

As we look forward to the new fiscal year, CMV will continue to expand its targeted out-reach efforts through collaborative partnerships to support the Choose VA campaign and other VA priorities such as Suicide Prevention. Future newsletters will highlight additional CMV campaigns and initiatives.

Word from the Deputy Director

Written by Dennis May, Deputy Director

I’m honored and excited to be a part of this diverse team of professionals dedicated to helping our nation’s minority Veterans!

I’ve been a member of the VA Team for several years, first in the Veterans employment arena, and more recently in Central Office Human Resources, so I’m very familiar with the work the Center does, as well as the role we play in assisting the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans. As an Air Force Veteran myself, I have first-hand experience with the many great things VA does and can’t wait to share the VA story with my fellow Vets, many of whom have yet to take advantage of the numerous VA benefits and services they’ve earned.

As we continue our modernization effort, this is an exciting time for those of us in VA. I look forward to doing my part in being an advocate for our fellow Veterans, particularly our minority Veterans.

Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans

Appointed by the Secretary, The Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans (ACMV) was established under Public Law 103-446 § 510, November 2, 1994. The Committee consists of veterans who represent respective minority groups and are recognized authorities in fields pertinent to the needs of the minority group they embody.

New Committee Members

  • Phillip L. Billy, an Air Force Veteran from Lindsay, OK
  • Robert V. McDonald, a Navy Veteran from Anaheim, CA
  • Raul E. Rosas, a retired Navy first class petty officer, is a disabled/combat Veteran from Columbia, MD
  • Dr. Glenda L. Wrenn Gordon, a 1999 West Point graduate (recipient of the Distinguished Cadet Award), from Decatur, GA

The next scheduled ACMV Meeting will take place December 12-14, 2017.

Center for Women Veterans (CWV) 2017 National Women Veterans Summit Presentations

Although the 2017 National Women Veterans Summit was adversely impacted by Hurricane Harvey in August, the Center would still like to share the important information that would have been disseminated during the conference. We are making the presentations available to the public through cyber seminar. The cyber seminar schedule is now available. You will find information on the upcoming sessions at the CWV website.


#BorneTheBattle 54: Melissa Castillo – Navy Veteran, Dallas County Veterans Service Officer

Tim Lawson, a reporter at VA Public Affairs, interviewed ACMV member Melissa Castillo – a Navy Veteran living in Dallas, Texas. The podcast is a spinoff to the Center for Minority Veterans Women Veterans Summit panel Podcast. The interview covered the following topics:

  • Why she joined the Navy
  • Her decision to exit the military
  • Her experience as a Hispanic Veteran
  • Her work as a Veterans Service Officer in Dallas County

View the VAntage Point article »

Filipino WWII Veterans Awarded Congressional Gold Medal

WASHINGTON — About two dozen Filipino Veterans of World War II were on hand Wednesday to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award, nearly 75 years after they fought with the U.S. to defeat Japan. The medal honors the 260,000 Filipinos who fought alongside American forces during the war and the 57,000 Filipino troops who died. House Speaker Paul Ryan said the award is “long, long overdue.” “The ceremony at the U.S. Capitol was more than a feel-good story of delayed recognition,” said Ryan, R-Wis. He said the medal is to “immortalize the legacy of these great liberators who have paved the way for generations to follow.” Also present were many family members of Filipino Veterans who already died, along with other congressional leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

One Veteran, Celestino Almeda, at age 100, received a standing ovation after speaking to the crowd. “To my fellow soldiers present and those who couldn’t be here, thank you for sharing this beautiful day,” Almeda told the gathering. “As the saying goes, ‘Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”

Another Filipino Veteran, Remigio Cabacar, 90, said he was happy his family was there to celebrate the long-awaited event. “Amazing. Wonderful. Finally. We received what we deserved, the Congressional Gold Medal,” he said.

Margrit Baltazar, whose late husband Jesse Baltazar had survived the notorious Bataan Death March, said: “It’s sad. I miss him very much, but I’m also very honored.” Baltazar said she could picture her husband giving a speech at the ceremony because he enjoyed talking about the service and sacrifices that the Filipino Veterans endured during the war.

Their service began in 1941, when President Franklin Roosevelt created the U.S. Army Forces of the Far East, offering full Veterans’ benefits to Filipinos who enlisted. The Philippines at that time was a U.S. commonwealth, and Filipinos were U.S. nationals.

After the war, the benefits were quickly rescinded by President Harry Truman in 1946, and the Filipinos who served were stripped of their status as U.S. Veterans. The Philippines was singled out from the 66 nations allied with the U.S. during the war.

As Ryan said at the end of his remarks: “Let this ceremony serve to ensure that those who fought for freedom are never forgotten and are always remembered.”

by Walbert J. Castillo, USA Today

Minority Veteran Program Coordinator (MVPC) Corner

MVPC Veronica Murray, LCSW Recognized by Association of VA Social Workers (AVASW) as Social Worker of the 3rd Quarter 2017

Veronica is passionate about her work with Veterans, having served for a brief time in the military herself. She said that one of the most important things for her is to “always have an open mind, and to always advocate for your Veterans. Be a lifelong learner. The more we know the better we develop our skills. The better service we can provide. Net-work with colleagues, community partners and people in the community. Your networks are an important resource.” Get more information »

Note: The information was provided by Herman Montalvo, MVPC, South TX Veteran Healthcare System.

November Events Honoring Veterans
  • 7: Veteran’s Day Reception at George Washington University San Francisco, CA.
  • 7: Women’s Congressional Policy Institute’s Annual Veterans Day Lunch Briefing : “Health Challenges Facing Women Veterans Following Deployment”
  • 8: 2017 National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Veterans Day Ceremony.
  • 9: Disabled Veterans National Foundation Veterans Resources Fair
  • 9: Veterans Day webinar hosted by he American Association of Colleges of Nursing
  • 10: Hospice of the Chesapeake’s 2017 Veterans Day Ceremony
  • 10-12: 2017 Women Veterans Interactive Veterans Day, Leadership and Diversity Conference at George Washington University
  • 15: Fort Meade Resource Fair.
  • 21: National Native American Heritage Month Observance Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, VA
West Point First Black Woman as First Captain

For the first time in West Point’s 215-year history, a black woman is leading the 4,400 cadets at the Army’s prestigious military college. Cadet Simone Askew assumed the post of First Captain, the highest position in the cadets chain of command, in August. Learn more »

VAMobile - Veteran Appointment Request (VAR) App

VA’s new VAR app helps you schedule ap-pointments with your VA care team from the convenience of your mobile phone, computer, tablet or any device with an internet connection. Find out more at the VA App Store.