The Voice | Issue 1 - Fiscal Year 2020 - Center for Minority Veterans (CMV)
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Center for Minority Veterans (CMV)


The Voice | Issue 1 - Fiscal Year 2020

VA Center for Minority Veterans Newsletter

In this Section: Newsletter Index  |  Subscribe for Updates
On this Page: Executive Director’s Corner  |  Word from the Deputy Director  |  Outreach Events  |  Upcoming Events
Executive Director’s Corner

Stephen Dillard, CMV DirectorTwenty-Five Years of Dedicated Service: The Center for Minority Veterans is Passionately Providing Perpetual Service to Veterans and Their Families

Those of us at the Department of Veterans Affairs are dedicated to serving Veterans of every generation with commitment, respect, and advocacy equal to their service and sacrifice. ~~The Honorable Robert L. Wilkie

At the Center for Minority Veterans we have aligned our mission and vision with VA’s agency priority goals, chief among them — improved customer service.

We are excited and pleased that we were fortunate to conclude a tremendous calendar year 2019 with CMV’s 25th Anniversary Commemoration!

CMV began the year commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Day, Black History Month, Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (APAHM), now officially proclaimed Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. From September 15 through October 15, as CMV celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month with Hispanic and Latino Veterans across the Nation, we also hosted the first-ever National Minority Veterans Summit in Dallas, TX, which was an unqualified success! This Inaugural summit brought together over 700 Veterans, family members, caregivers and VA employees to provide VA leaders recommendations on how we can improve the lives of minority Veterans.

As the fall months expired, during the month of November, CMV along with the White House and VA’s Office of Tribal Government Relations (OTGR) celebrated Native American Heritage Month, or as it is commonly referred to, American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. Further, during November, the VA honored November as “Veterans Month!” This new tradition has been an excellent opportunity to share the Veterans experience with our interagency colleagues and external partners and stakeholders. Again, this was a successful initiative!

During Veterans Month, I was fortunate to participate in a Veterans Day celebration at the National Archives. This was an impressive commemorative event! The National Archives and Records Administration acknowledged and incorporated the dedicated contributions of American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans who provided dedicated service to America despite the cultural conflicts. Furthermore, at this most significant engagement of November, the National Archives and Records Administration featured the American Indians and Alaska Natives from a comprehensive perspective coupled with a narrative that depicted their unswerving dedication to fighting for America again, foreigner adversaries. For example, “From the earliest years of United States history, American Indians have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, participating in every major military conflict, including both sides of the American Civil War. They have filled unique roles as U.S. Army Indian scouts, as well as U.S. Army and Marine Corps Code Talkers in both World Wars. Relevant service and pension records, along with related correspondence, reports, and other documents, can be found at the National Archives.”

As we completed our exceptional year, CMV concluded our ambitious accomplishments with hosting the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans (ACMV). This dedicated committee of 12 Veterans listened to VA subject matter experts and senior leadership as they drafted new recommendations to support Veterans and their families and monitored the update on existing recommendations. CMV and VA are very grateful to the ACMV for providing a unique perspective that contributes relevant insight on VA’s programs and services provided to our Veterans.

CMV is thankful that we were able to collaborate with our Minority Veteran Program Coordinators, partners and stakeholders to make 2019 an exceptional benchmark year. At the CMV, we passionately served our Veterans and these actions provided a meaningful adventure over the past quarter of a century (25 years).

  • In FY 2018 CMV and the 276 Minority Veteran Program Coordinators provided outreach to approximately 800,000 Veterans and 350,000 minority Veterans.
  • In FY 2019 we outreached to approximately 900,000 Veterans and 500,000 minority Veterans.

As we move into 2020, we are excited about our goals and objectives we have established in order to serve the need of our Veterans effectively. CMV’s promise is to continue our dedicated internal partnerships with each VA Administration to achieve the following short term objectives: analyze Veterans Benefits Administration’s benefits information relative to race and ethnicity, collaborate with Veterans Health Administration’s Office of Health Equity to advance health equity among Veterans, collaborate with the Office of Veterans Experience to glean data from Veteran Signals Survey that will aid us at making informed decisions and recommendations to senior leadership and support National Cemetery Administration as we support our Veterans and their survivors.

As CMV’s Executive Director, I am very appreciative of the opportunity to share the VA’s mission with our partners and stakeholders about the importance of serving our Veterans, as well as support the needs of our Veterans and their families. In other words, I am proud to be a contributing member of the CMV’s outstanding performing team!

Join us as we keep serving our Veterans!

Select an image below to view the larger image and a description of the event.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5471 (Fort Washington, MD) attend CMV's 25th Anniversary Commemoration Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 5471 (Fort Washington, MD) attend CMV's 25th Anniversary Commemoration and meet VA Secretary Wilkie
Word from the Deputy Director

Dennis May, CMV Deputy Director2020 Vision

As Executive Director Stephen Dillard has already related, 2019 was an historic year for the Center for Minority Veterans. What’s even more exciting is what the year 2020 has in store!

We look forward to doing our part in moving VA forward this year through VA’s four strategic goals:

  • Goal 1 Veterans choose VA for easy access, greater choices, and clear information to make informed decisions. As the CMV staff and our Minority Veteran Program Coordinators (MVPCs) conduct numerous outreach events in the coming year, we want to ensure the Veterans we meet understand what VA benefits and services they’re eligible for and understand how to sign up for those benefits. We plan to increase our social media presence through our own website and our weekly GovDelivery email blasts. We’ll also rely on existing VA accounts on Facebook and LinkedIn to help us spread the word. We’ll also work with our partners to host more VA townhalls this year so we can hear directly from our minority Veteran community.
  • Goal 2 Veterans receive highly reliable and integrated care and support and excellent customer service that emphasizes their well-being and independence throughout their life journey. Customer service is at the core of all we do. While we engage close to one million Veterans annually, we know that Veterans have individual issues and concerns. We want each Veteran to feel they’re the most important customer we’ll engage at that moment.
  • Goal 3 Veterans trust VA to be consistently accountable and transparent. We want the Veterans we meet to understand they have an advocate in VA. Whatever the concern, we’ll do what we can to engage VA decision makers at the local level to resolve their concerns.
  • Goal 4 VA will transform business operations by modernizing systems and focusing resources more efficiently to be competitive and to provide world-class customer service to Veterans and its employees. While transparent to those outside the CMV and MVPC community, we’re upgrading our MVPC reporting tool to make it more user friendly and help us analyze the effectiveness of our outreach efforts.

By doing our part, we know 2020 will be the best year ever for VA!

Outreach Events

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Veterans Day 2019

By Dwayne E. Campbell, Program Analyst, Hispanic Veteran Liaison, Center for Minority Veterans.

Veterans Day originated as Armistice Day and marked the end of hostilities of World War I that occurred at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson commemorated the first Armistice Day with these words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

The day was originally set aside to honor the Veterans of World War I with a day of parades and remembrances as well as a pause in activities at 11:00 a.m. on the day. In 1954, the word “Armistice” was replaced with “Veterans” as a way to formally include all Veterans of all-American wars in the day of remembrance.

Each Veterans’ Day, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) acknowledge the sacrifices made by the men and women in uniform and all who have served with a Veterans Day program. Mr. Stephen B. Dillard, Executive Director, Center for Minority Veterans served as keynote speaker. One of NARA’s mission is to serve Veterans and their families, by preserving military records at their National Personnel Records Center in Saint Louis, MO.

Select an image below to view the larger image and a description of the event.

(Left to right) Michael Wiley, Vice- Chair, National Archives and Records Administration, Veterans Affinity Group (Ike), Williams Keys, World War 2 Veteran, Stephen B. Dillard, Executive Director, CMV, and Edward Harris, Chair, National Archives and Records Administration, Veterans Affinity Group (Ike)  (Photo Credit by Susana Raab) (Left to right) Michael Wiley, Vice- Chair, NARA Veterans Affinity Group (Ike), Williams Keys, World War 2 Veteran, Stephen B. Dillard, Executive Director, CMV, and Edward Harris, Chair, NARA, Veterans Affinity Group (Ike), and Dwayne Campbell, CMV Hispanic Veterans Liaison  (Photo Credit by Susana Raab) Stephen Dillard, CMV Executive Director addresses the audience at the NARA Veterans Day 2019 (Photo Credit by Susana Raab) Stephen Dillard, CMV Executive Director addresses the audience at the NARA Veterans Day 2019 (Photo Credit by Susana Raab)

Mount Zion Baptist Church (MZBC), Triangle Virginia Veterans Day 2019

by Dennis May, Deputy Director

Veterans from every era from WWII to present were represented.

Some of the Veterans could still fit into their uniforms!

Select an image below to view the larger image and a description of the event.

Attendees at the MZBC Veterans Day Event Dennis May mans an outreach table and provides VA Benefits books and other VA material at the MZBC Veterans Day his Air Force uniform! Aim High, Colonel May!
Upcoming events

“The Year of the Rat”

Lunar New Year begins on Saturday, January 25, and celebrations will last approximately 15 days or until the first full moon of 2020. This observance is also known as: Chinese Chunjie, Vietnamese Tet, Korean Solnal, Tibetan Losar, and finally, Spring Festival which is typically celebrated in China and other Asian countries. Approximately 10 days before the beginning of the new lunar year, houses are thoroughly cleaned to remove any bad luck that might be lingering inside, a custom called “sweeping of the grounds.” Traditionally, New Year’s eve and New Year’s day are reserved for family celebrations, including religious ceremonies honoring ancestors. Also on New Year›s day, family members receive red envelopes (lai see) containing small amounts of money. Dances and fireworks are prevalent throughout the holidays, culminating in the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated on the last day of the New Year’s celebrations. On this night colourful lanterns light up the houses, and traditional foods such as yuanxiao (sticky rice balls that symbolize family unity), fagao (prosperity cake), and yusheng (raw fish and vegetable salad) are served. The year 2020 marks the Year of the Rat per Chinese astrology. Learn move about the Lunar New Year!

2020 Winterhaven/Stand-Down

Saturday, January 25, 2020 (8:00a.m. – 2:00p.m.)
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC)
50 Irving St NW, Washington, DC 20422

‘Walk In Their Footsteps’ New Boot/Shoe Campaign

The 2020 ‘Walk In Their Foot Steps’ New Boot/Shoe Collection Campaign, to benefit homeless/disabled military Veterans and family members: thru Friday, January 24, 2020.

The ‘Walk In Their Foot Steps’ new Boot/Shoe Campaign is a unique partnership which includes the HUD Veterans Affinity Group (VAG), the HUD District of Columbia Field Office, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), Technatomy, Inc, NGEN, Inc., and the National Football League Retired Players Association (NFLRPA) (Washington DC Chapter) that provides new boots/shoes for homeless veterans and their families who participate at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) Winter Haven/Stand Down scheduled for Saturday, January 25, 2020, at the VAMC located at: 50 Irving Street, N.W., Washington, DC.

The Winterhaven-Homeless Veterans Stand-Down event offers our homeless veterans a warm meal, clothing, and sorely needed clinical and social services absolutely free of charge. Nadeem Butler, CEO of Technatomy explains. ‘Yet, it’s the new pairs of boots distributed t each of these heroes that are seemingly most anticipated and appreciated each year. Participation in this campaign is a special way of positively impacting lives and giving comfort to those who’ve served our country.’

Collection Bins will be located at: 451 7th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20410, and 820 First Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20002 (Lobby).

If you, or your agency VAG would like to set up a collection site please contact: Natalie Bishop-Hodge (202-402-3132) or Walter Elmore (202-275-6323).

No cash Donations will be Accepted — ‘In-Kind’ Donations Only. Questions? Contact Volunteer Services at 202-745-8320.