The Voice | Issue 2 - Fiscal Year 2018 - Center for Minority Veterans (CMV)
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Center for Minority Veterans (CMV)

 

The Voice | Issue 2 - Fiscal Year 2018

VA Center for Minority Veterans Newsletter

In this Section: Newsletter Index  |  Subscribe for Updates
On this Page: Message from the Director |  Visit to Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training  |  Word from the Deputy Director  |  Visit to Washington D.C. Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs |  CBCF 2018 Avoice Heritage Celebration  |  VETLANTA  | The Hello Girls  |  Minority Veteran Program Coordinator (MVPC) Corner  |  February Events Honoring Veterans  |  Honoring the Tuskegee Airmen
Message from the Director

By Barbara Ward, Director

Black History month began in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson who initiated Negro History Week. Over time, this week turned into a month long celebration for reflecting on the vast contributions that African Americans have made to our great nation. The national theme for this year’s Black History Month is: “African Americans in Times of War”. One hundred fifty years ago, on January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation which brought an end to slavery and 50 years later, Dr. Martin Luther King led the March on Washington to the Abraham Lincoln Memorial in pursuit of jobs and freedom. The March was extremely symbolic for it brought together hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life in the pursuit of political, social and economic equality. It was on this historical occasion that Dr. King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

As we celebrate Black History month, we remember the contributions of African American men and women, from the past and present, who fought for the freedoms that we enjoy today. Their contributions date back as early as the Revolutionary War and have continued throughout all wars to our present time. The Buffalo Soldiers and Tuskegee Airmen are two examples of courageous African Americans who made a commitment to serve our nation.

In honor of Black History month, the CMV is partnering with Blacks in Government, the Center for Women Veterans, Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation and the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust in hosting the following activities: 2/12 – Women Veterans Roundtable aired on Vets Speak radio program hosted by the Kentucky Chapter of the National Association of Black Veterans; 2/21 – Program and Reception honoring African American Veterans at the African American Civil War Museum; and 2/27 – a lunch program honoring African American Military women and Veterans at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Museum (WIMSA). These programs will include dynamic speakers, Veteran panels, viewing of videos and refreshments. Check our website for details.

CMV Visit to MCVET

Officials from the CMV toured the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training (MCVET) in Baltimore, MD on January 31, 2018.

CMV Deputy Director Dennis May, and CMV African American Veterans Liaison Denise Wright met with MCVET leadership and staff as well as local Veterans who were students at MCVET. Mr. Jeffery Kendrick, MCVET Director, and Ms. Cereta Spencer, MCVET Director of Development, showed off the services they offer Veterans and the number of Vets they help. MCVET offers services including short-term and transitional housing assistance, case management, education assistance, employment assis-tance and more.

Kendrick hopes the visit will help MCVET increase their visibility and encouraged VA to spread the word regarding the types of services and support for Veterans they provide. Mr. May and Ms. Wright came away thoroughly impressed with the center and the impact the staff is having on the Veteran population in Baltimore.

“We look forward to collaborating with MCVET and adding their services to our toolkit of referral information for Veterans”, May said.

Word from the Deputy Director

Written by Dennis May, Deputy Director

“Start spreading the news!” Some of you may recognize that phrase as the opening line of Frank Sinatra’s iconic song, “New York, New York.” The Center for Minority Veterans (CMV) is taking that message to heart! One of VA’s stated goals for 2018 and beyond is to ensure Veterans are informed of, understand, and can avail themselves of the benefits, care and services they choose. We here at CMV are committed to ensuring we expand our targeted outreach to minority Veterans to achieve that goal.

Among our strategies for 2018 are to utilize the Minority Veteran Program Coordinator (MVPC) program to increase outreach within the local communities VA serves; educate minority Veterans on benefits and VA services; and leverage social media to help us spread this message. Additionally, each of the CMV program analysts will be working with their partners and stakeholders to reach as many Veterans as we can this year. Our CMV website and this quarterly newsletter will also allow us to reach even more Veterans. We also distribute a weekly email that highlights current activities across the minority Veteran landscape.

Not only do we want to spread the message regarding the benefits and services VA provides, we are looking for meaningful feedback. We want to hear from the Veterans we serve regarding their experiences with VA (both positive and negative) and how we can improve our efforts in meeting their needs.

I encourage each of you to share this newsletter with your network of friends and colleagues and to ask them to sign up for our weekly email. We want to hear from you! You may contact CMV at (202) 461-6191, or via email.

Visit to Washington D.C. Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA)

On January 23, 2018 Barbara Ward, Director of VA’s Center for Minority Veterans (CMV) along with Dennis May CMV Deputy Director, and Denise Wright, VA’s African American Veterans Liaison, met with Ely S. Ross, Director, Washington D.C. Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA) at his office in Washington, D.C. The meeting focused on developing collaborative opportunities to serve minority Veterans in the local community.

 

CBCF 2018 Avoice Heritage Celebration

American Indian/Alaska Native Veterans

Buffalo Soldiers: Buffalo Soldiers originally were members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed on Septem-ber 21, 1866, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This nickname was given to the Negro Cavalry by Native American tribes who fought in the Indian Wars. Leckie suggested that the Indians gave the name to the black soldiers of the 10th Cavalry because they saw some resem-blance between the buffalo and these brown-skinned men, some of whom had woolly looking hair and who sometimes wore buffalo hide coats in the winter.

Throughout the years - the name “Buffalo Soldiers” has become interesting lore in itself. For more about the Buffalo Soldiers, their ser-vice and their lives, see William H. Leckie, The Buffalo Soldiers: A Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West (Norman: University of Ok-lahoma Press, 1967).

A Comanche family in the early 1900s. The elder man is Ta-Ten-e-quer and his wife is Ta-Tat-ty. Their niece, center, is Wife-per, also known as Frances E. Wright. Her father was a Buffalo Soldier, an African American cavalryman, who married into the Comanches. Henry, center left, and Lorenzano, center right, are her sons.

Black Indians are people of mixed African-American and Native American heritage, who have strong ties to Native American culture. Many Indigenous peoples of the Eastern Woodlands, such as the Narragansett, Pequot, Lumbee and Cherokee, have a significant degree of African ancestry.

After the American Civil War some African Americans became members of the US Army and fought against the Native Americans, especially in the Western frontier states. Their military units became known as the Buffalo Soldiers. Black Seminole in particular were recruited and worked as Native American scouts for the Army. On the other hand, other Native Americans and people of African descent fought alongside one another in armed struggles of resistance against U.S. expansion into Native territories, as in the Seminole Wars in Florida. Get additional information »

Asian American/Pacific Islander Veterans

The Philippine War - A Conflict of Conscience for African Americans: Following the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Spanish American War in December of 1898, the United States took control of the former Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. Companies from the segregated Black infantry regiments reported to the Presidio of San Francisco on their way to the Philippines in early 1899. Filipino nationalists (Insurectos) led by Emilio Aguinaldo resisted the idea of American domination and began attacking U.S. troops, including the 24th and 25th Infantry regiments.

The 9th and 10th Cavalry were sent to the Philippines as reinforcements, bringing all four Black regiments plus African American national guardsmen into the war against the Insurectos.As the war progressed many African American soldiers increasingly felt they were being used in an unjust racial war. The Filipino insurgents subjected Black soldiers to psychological warfare, using propaganda encouraging them to desert. Posters and leaflets addressed to “The Colored American Soldier” described the lynching and discrimination against Blacks in the United States and discouraged them from being the instrument of their white masters' ambitions to oppress another “people of color.” Blacks who deserted to the Filipino nationalist cause would be welcomed and given positions of responsibility. (23)

During the war in the Philippines, fifteen U.S. soldiers, six of them Black, would defect to Aquinaldo. One of the Black deserters, Private David Fagen became notorious as a “Insurecto Captain,” and was apparently so successful fighting American soldiers that a price of $600 was placed on his head. The bounty was collected by a Filipino defector who brought in Fagen's decomposed head.

A Black newspaper, the Indianapolis Freeman, editorialized in December, 1901, “Fagen was a traitor and died a traitor’s death, but he was a man no doubt prompted by honest motives to help a weakened side, and one he felt allied by bonds that bind.” (24)

The sentiments of most Black soldiers in the Philippines would be summed up by Commissary Sergeant Middleton W. Saddler of the 25th Infantry, who wrote, “We are now arrayed to meet a common foe, men of our own hue and color. Whether it is right to reduce these people to submission is not a question for soldiers to decide. Our oaths of allegiance know neither race, color, nor nation.” (25)

Article retrieved from National Park Service.

Congressional CelebrationCongressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc.

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) is excited to an-nounce the honorees for this year’s 9th Annual Avoice Heritage Celebration, scheduled to take place on Tuesday, February 13, at the Naval Heritage Center.

Ginger Miller, a member of VA Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans, will receive the CBCF’s Distinguished Veterans’ Rights Activist Award for her efforts to expose the public and advocate for Veterans in need. Visit cbcfinc.org/Heritage18 to learn more information and purchase your tickets today.

VETLANTA

ATLANTA—In its mission to honor America’s Veterans by providing them with exceptional health care, the Atlanta VA Health Care System joined community partner VETLANTA at its Health Care Summit Nov. 6, 2017 to provide updates and information to hundreds of Veterans, military spouses, and community members in attendance.

VETLANTA, which is a club operated exclusively for Veteran social and business networking and community service purposes, aims to foster collaboration among Atlanta area businesses to support Veteran-orientated initiatives. It also focuses on a continuing collaboration with the community to improve service members, Veterans and their family’s outcomes by supporting VA leadership engagement of ongoing efforts.

The event, held at Mercedes Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta, was designed to provide information about current trends in health care and resources to the fifth largest military population in the country. Annette Walker, Atlanta VA Health Care System Director, said that these type of community engagement events are vital to increasing aware-ness of the many projects and initiatives VA is working on to improve Veterans’ care and “letting people know what VA has to offer”.

Gary Compton, Atlanta VAHCS’s Choice Champion, was on hand to provide the audience with the latest information on the Veterans Choice Program (VCP), to include eligi-bility requirements, estimated wait times, and medical services generally not covered by the program.

Atlanta VAHCS enjoys a strong partnership with VETLANTA and supports its efforts to inform Veterans and their families on VA matters, provide feedback to the VA lead-ership, and improve outcomes for Veterans and families.

“The Hello Girls: America's First Women Soldiers” Book by Elizabeth Cobbs

In 1918 the U.S. Army Signal Corps sent 223 women to France to help win World War I. Elizabeth Cobbs reveals the challenges these patriotic young women faced in a war zone where male soldiers resented. CMV staff is invited to attend the “Hello Girls” documentary at WIMSA in March. Juanita Mullen, American Indian/Alaska Native Veterans’ Liaison was chosen as one of our female Veterans to be part of the closing of the documentary. Email hellogirlsRSVP@gmail.com to reserve seating for this event in Arlington, VA.

Minority Veteran Program Coordinator (MVPC) Corner

Bethany Baptist ChurchBethany Church

On November 12, Philadelphia area Minority Veteran Program Coordinators (MVPCs) in a collaborative effort attended and conducted breakout sessions at the Veterans Day Service of Bethany Baptist Church in Lindenwold, NJ. The church conducts two services the first breakout session was between the first and second service. The second breakout session was held immediately following the final service of the day. Rev. Jonathan Vaughters, coordinator of the event stated this was a very convenient way to get information to their members. Over 600 participants were able to discuss and get answers to a wide variety of questions regarding their VA benefits.

Andrew Nelson, Administrative Officer at Washington Crossing National Cemetery stated, “As a Veteran, I think this is a phenomenal idea, and more community based organizations should do this; because who doesn’t know a Veteran. It was great to not only interact with Veterans, but also fellowship with the church. Overall a very welcoming experience and great information was shared.” Rev. Vaughters echoed Andrew’s sentiments by saying many Veterans spoke of the many services that they learned about during this event and some stated how they had given up hope on some benefits until our Veterans Day Service.

February Events Honoring Veterans
  • 5-8: 2018 United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) Impact Week Meeting, Arlington, Virginia
  • 7: Women Veterans United Committee, Inc. 4th Annual WVUCI On The Hill at the Rayburn Building
  • 8: Blacks in Government (BIG) Black History Month Celebration at the NMAAHC
  • 12: National Congress of American Indian (NCAI) 2018 State of Indian Nations Address at the Newseum, Washington, DC
  • 12: CMV Director, will moderate a roundtable discussion on the Vets Speaks radio program hosted by the Kentucky NABVETS Chapter.
  • 12-15: Workshop at League of United Latin American Citizenz (LULAC) 2018 Emerge Latino Conference in Washington, DC
  • 16: Chinese New Year—Year of the Earth Dog
  • 21: “African Americans at Times of War” Reception at the African American Civil War Museum from 6:00pm–8:00pm in Washington, DC
  • 27: “African Americans at Times of War” Luncheon at WIMSA from 11:00am-1:00pm in Arlington, VA
Honoring the Tuskegee Airmen

The Tuskegee airmen were the first black servicemen to serve as military aviators in the U.S. armed forces, flying with distinction during World War II. Though subject to racial discrimination both at home and abroad, the 996 pilots and more than 15,000 ground personnel who served with the all-black units would be credited with some 15,500 combat sorties and earn over 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses for their achievements. The highly publicized successes of the Tuskegee Airmen helped pave the way for the eventual integration of the U.S. armed forces under President Harry Truman in 1948. Get more information »