The Voice | Issue 1 - Fiscal Year 2019 - Center for Minority Veterans (CMV)
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Center for Minority Veterans (CMV)

 

The Voice | Issue 1 - Fiscal Year 2019

VA Center for Minority Veterans Newsletter

In this Section: Newsletter Index  |  Subscribe for Updates
On this Page: Message from the Executive Director |  A Word from the Deputy Director  |  Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans  |  Latino Veteran Highlight: Dyan Gibbens |  “No Mail, Low Morale” – The Story of the Six Triple Eighth  |  African American History Month  |  Traditional Healing & Cultural Diversity Training  |  Congressional Gold Medal Act
Message from the Executive Director

Stephen Dillard, CMV DirectorCenter for Minority Veterans (CMV) Outreach Resolution: Reviewing, Planning and Implementing

Calendar year 2019 is upon us and I am excited about the privilege and honor to serve as Executive Director, Center for Minority Veterans (CMV). As Executive Director, I am the principal advisor to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on the adoption and implementation of policies and programs affecting Veterans who are minorities. As a Veteran and long time VA employee myself, I am confident, that my knowledge and decades of valuable experience serving the needs of Veterans, their families, Survivors, Caregivers and other beneficiaries at the Department of Veterans Affairs, will continue to contribute to advancing VA’s mission of serving our Veterans.

I am proud to be joining VA’s CMV gold standard team that has achieved epic accomplishments. CMV had a banner year in 2018, with CMV staff and Minority Veterans Program Coordinators (MVPCs) conducting 46,018 Outreach Activities, reaching over 770,000 Veterans, 303,166 Minority Veterans and 56,897 Women Veterans.

Supporting the success and enrollment of our Veterans in VA programs is paramount for CMV, therefore, in FY 2019, we will use the following resources to effectively and efficiently service the needs of our Veterans: Adopt the Secretary of VA priority goals (i.e., customer service and sharing significant Mission Act programmatic information), support of the “Choose VA” campaign, co-host of Suicide Prevention Program events, and implement SMART strategic and tactical strategies. By achieving these significant objectives, we hope to surpass our epic 2018 outreach metrics and use these objectives to effectively support our Veterans going forward.

CMV will continue the effective collaborative partnerships with our internal and external partners and stakeholders by hosting and inviting their participation in Town Hall and Virtual Town Hall meetings. We’ll encourage our MVPCs to expand their targeted outreach activities by establishing new collaborative partnerships, conducting numerous “Lunch and Learn” sessions at federal agencies, stand downs, VA claim clinics and participation at VSO conferences.

In honor of Black History month, CMV is partnering with Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Department of the District of Columbia, Inc., the Women Veterans United Committee, Inc., and Blacks in Government, to host activities during the month of February. The activities dates are: 2/6 – VA Center for Minority Veteran’s Black History Program at Disabled American Veterans, Washington, DC; 2/14 – VACO Black History Month Program at VA G.V “ Sonny” Montgomery Veterans Conference Center. The national theme for this year’s Black History Month is: “Black Migration.”

The Advisory Committee for Minority Veterans (ACMV) members participated in a successful committee meeting on December 11-13, 2018. CMV remains excited about supporting the work of the advisory committee and collaborating with key VA partners to achieve the committee’s goals, objectives and recommendations.

Finally, we’re in the initial planning stages of the first-ever National Minority Veterans Summit. The summit will bring together VA leaders, Veteran Service organizations, subject matter experts and minority Veterans so we can hear first-hand about issues of importance to the minority Veteran community. The summit will take place in September 2019 on dates and at a location to-be-determined.

Future newsletters will highlight additional CMV campaigns and initiatives. To effectively contribute to CMV’s mission, as a member of the CMV team, I am excited about partnering with each of you to service the needs of our Veterans, their families, Survivors, Caregivers and other beneficiaries.

A Word from the Deputy Director

Dennis May, CMV Deputy DirectorA wise man once said, “Find a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”. Truer words were never spoken!

Having just completed my first year on the Center for Minority Veterans staff, I can happily attest to this fact. The Center leads VA’s efforts to conduct outreach to the minority Veteran community and ensure our minority Veterans are positioned to take advantage of all the wonderful benefits and services VA offers. Our eight-person staff works collaboratively with over 270 Minority Veteran Program Coordinators (MVPCs) and the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans to spread the message to minority Veterans while also providing feedback from those Veterans to VA leadership and decision makers.

A key component of our outreach efforts is the opportunity to provide remarks to Veteran Service Organizations, affinity groups and local community organizations regarding VA benefits and services. I recently had the opportunity to provide keynote remarks at several local events including Veterans Day remarks to the National Archives and Records Administration and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. I also had the opportunity to represent CMV at the Women Veterans Interactive Annual Leadership and Diversity Conference and the Department of Justice’s annual Martin Luther King Day commemoration. At each of these events I highlighted the work of our office and underscored the importance of working with these organizations to support our nation’s Veterans.

We all recognize the importance service to our Veterans and understand that with all of our resources, VA cannot do it alone. We need our partners and stakeholders to fill in the gaps, and that’s why we are always willing to attend these meetings, conferences and commemorative events. If you would like CMV representation at your events, please let us know – we’ll be more than happy to attend or coordinate attendance with one of our MVPCs across the country. Just ask! Center for Minority Veterans email: vacocenterforminorit@va.gov

Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans

Appointed by the Secretary, The Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans (ACMV) was estab-lished 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.

2019 Site Visit - The next scheduled ACMV Meeting will take place in Houston, TX April 9-11 2019.

Latino Veteran Highlight: Dyan Gibbens

Dyan Gibbens served as a lieutenant in the Air Force. Since separation, she has founded Trumbull Unmanned, “a systainable energy company” (O’Connor, 2018) which utilizes drone technology to manage natural resources. Lt. Gibbens is the only Latina to make the list of Forbes Top 25 Veteran Founded Companies. Read more at https://hiplatina.com/latina-veterans/2/.

“No Mail, Low Morale” – The Story of the Six Triple Eighth

By Denise Wright, Senior Program Analyst, African American Veterans Liaison

As the African American Veteran Liaison, I am actively searching for organizations to collaborate and acknowledge African American Veterans sacrifices and commitment to our military and our country. Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Elizabeth Helms-Frazier. As we struck up a conversation, she asked if I had ever heard of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion (CPDB). I said l was not aware of this organization. Ms. Helms-Frazier who is a member of the 6888th Monument Volunteer Committee proceeded to enlighten me about “The Six Triple Eight” which is the nickname for the unit.

During WWII the 6888th CPDB was the first and only all black female unit to deploy overseas. They were made up of 855 women commanded by Major Charity Adams. They were deployed to the European theater with a mission to clear the 2-3-year backlog of mail in 6 months. The mail was stored in large aircraft hangers and stacked from the floor to the ceiling! Under the leadership of Major Adams, the unit worked 24 hours a day, in three 8-hour shifts and cleared the backlog of letters and packages. Upon completion of their mission they had sorted over 17 million pieces of mail in 3 months not 6 months! Their motto was “No Mail, Low Morale”! When the unit completed the mission they returned home to the United States. No welcome home parade, no unit award and no recognition for their service, sacrifice nor accomplishments. Some stayed in the Army while others went back to their lives. Many of them never even mentioned their service with 6888th nor did they receive Veteran’s benefits.

The 6888th began with 855 members of the unit. Pictured to the right are the last five (5) Living Legacies of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion from L to R (Formerly) Pvt Anna Mae Wilson Robertson, (Formerly) Pvt Elizabeth Bernice Barker Johnson, (Formerly) PFC Delores Ruddock, (Formerly) Cpl Lena Derriecott Bell King and (Formerly) PFC Maybelle Rutland Tanner Campbell.

November 2018, the last 5 Living Legacies were finally recognized for their service and remarkable contributions to WWII. They were honored with a dedication ceremony of the 6888th CPDB Monument located at Monument Park in Fort Leavenworth, KS. They were greeted by generals and congressmen however, I think the icing on the cake was the parade they never received. People lined the streets of Fort Leavenworth waving, children had made special signs all for these women veterans. I had the honor of riding in the car with Ms. Ruddock (formerly PFC) I saw a tear roll down her left cheek and she said, “the people at my church are not going to believe this!” I sat in silence in awe of these remarkable women who had created an amazing path for me to follow. The 6888th dedicated monument will serve as a reminder for generations to come know about this extraordinary unit’s impactful achievement in WWII. As we celebrate Black History Month, let us all celebrate “The Six Triple Eight” unit of all Black Women Veterans by continuing to share their story.

By the Numbers: A salute to African-American military service

From American Legion Magazine, February 2019

  • 2.1 million - Black military Veterans nationwide
  • 30.2% - Active-duty enlisted women who are African-American (2016)
  • 17.1% - Active-duty enlisted men who are African-American (2016)
  • 20,000+ - Black Marine Corps recruits who received training at Montford Point Camp in North Carolina during World War II
  • 21 - African-Americans who received the Medal of Honor for actions during the Vietnam War
  • 7,243 - Deaths of active-duty black servicemembers in Vietnam
  • 3,075 - Deaths of active-duty black servicemembers in the Korean War
  • 901,896 - African-Americans who served during World War I
  • 24% - of 500,000 U.S. military personnel deployed to the Middle East during the Persian Gulf War who were African-American
  • 350,000+ - Blacks who served in American Expeditionary Forces units on the Western Front in World War I
African American History Month

In honor of Black History month, the CMV is partnering with Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Department of the District of Columbia, Inc. and the Women Veterans United Committee, Inc. will host a Black History Month Program on February 6, 2019 from 11:30am -1:00pm. The event will take place at the DAV Legislative Headquarters located at 807 Maine Ave SW, Washington, DC. The distinguished guest speaker will be Major General Linda L. Singh, 29th Adjutant General of Maryland. To register to attend click the following link via Eventbrite.

Traditional Healing & Cultural Diversity Training

This training was conducted at the Fort Harrison VA Medical Center in Helena, MT. I was invited to brief VA’s healthcare providers on my culture as a member of the Seneca Nation and my experiences/expectations as a Native American female Veteran.

Powwow season has already started in some areas across the nation. Start planning your outreach events targeting Native American Veterans by going to Powwows.com. These events are categorized by: Recently Added Powwows, Upcoming This Week, Upcoming This Month, and Upcoming Next Month.

Congressional Gold Medal Act

Enacted to Pay Tribute to 20,000 Chinese-American World War II Veterans

On Dec. 20, 2018 President Trump signed into law the Chinese-American World War II Veteran Congressional Gold Medal Act, which had been passed unanimously on Sept. 12, 2018, by the U.S. Senate (S. 1050) and unanimously on Dec. 12, 2018, by the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 2358). The bill passed the House five days before the 75th anniversary of the 1943 Magnuson Act, which repealed the regrettable Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.