Center for Minority Veterans (CMV)
The Voice | Issue 3 - Fiscal Year 2020
Welcome to Spring 2020: The New Paradigm is Virtual VA Services While Providing our Veterans with Excellent Customer Service
Prioritizing safe delivery of care for our nation’s heroes and for VA’s workforce is the number one priority for the department. ~~Acting VA Deputy Secretary Pamela Powers
At VA, COVID-19 has impacted the way we do business, but it hasn’t stopped us from carrying out our mission, contained in President Abraham Lincoln’s promise: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” During this pandemic, we continue to serve and honor the men and women who are America’s Veterans.
Led by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert L. Wilkie, VA continues the first three missions of VA, which provides health care, benefits and memorial affairs for Veterans. However, in times of national crisis, such as the current pandemic, VA provides services to the nation based on requests from states, while being clear that Veterans are first. This is known as VA’s Fourth Mission. Secretary Wilkie said “while the fourth mission is important, Veteran care is still VA’s first mission.”
At VA, we are very proud of our staff who care for our Veterans. VA has nearly 400,000 employees across the nation that are working as an excellent team continue our mission both in-person and virtually. Since Convid-19 came to America, VA employees have supported VA’s public health response to protect and care for Veterans, their families, health care providers, and staff in the face of this emerging health risk. VA is working directly with the CDC and other federal partners to monitor the outbreak of the virus.
At the Center for Minority Veterans (CMV), we have shifted from the pre COVID-19 outreach model to the current virtual outreach. At CMV, we have created a “Virtual Outreach Corner” on our website to convey viable, important and essential VA programs and services information for our Veterans, their families, partners and stakeholders. Prioritizing safe delivery of care for our nation’s heroes and for VA’s workforce is the number one priority for the department.
As we embrace the delivery of Spring 2020 challenges and obligations, we are supporting, acknowledging and celebrating, virtually, the outstanding work of our internal and interagency partners during Public Service Recognition Week. We are also celebrating the valuable contributions of specificVeterans during May for National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. In 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. Please view the various activities, history and virtual events on our website.
At CMV we understand that service to our Veterans and their families is driven by passion, caring and gratitude. In the words of Albert Einstein, “Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living.”
As the nation continues to work its way through this COVID-19 pandemic, we at the Center for Minority Veterans are already planning how we will resume outreach operations in the “new normal.” As we grapple with what that looks like, one thing is certain – we won’t be able to do it the way we’ve always done it. A former co-worker of mine had a sign on her desk which read, “Nothing that is, needs to be, just because it was!” That was an eloquent reminder that doing things “the way we’ve always done them“ is no longer a sound rationale for doing our work.
The core of our mission at the Center for Minority Veterans is to conduct outreach to minority Veterans to ensure they understand the benefits and services VA provides and how they can take advantage of those benefits and services. In the past we conducted outreach by attending in-person events such as national conferences and conventions, training events, job fairs, briefings, meetings with Veteran Services Organizations and claims clinics. As most (if not all) of those in-person events have been canceled or postponed for the foreseeable future, it’s incumbent on our office to find new and innovative ways to reach minority Veterans.
We’ve started by planning a series of virtual events for our stakeholders beginning with a virtual town hall with the Veterans County Service Officers Association of Texas on June 17th. Other virtual town halls and related events will follow.
This virtual approach should prove effective for our Veterans, family members, caregivers and stakeholders with access to computers, tablets or smart phones. The challenge comes with reaching those without such access. How do we reach those Veterans?
We’ll work with VSOs to include information in their outreach materials, newsletters, etc. but we recognize there will still be Veterans who don’t receive information through those methods. That’s where we need YOUR help because we understand we’re not the keepers of all the great ideas. If YOU have a recommendation on how we can reach minority Veterans outside the virtual realm, we welcome your ideas. Please send your recommendations to us at email@example.com.
The bad news is we’re living through the worst pandemic in history. The good news is we have an opportunity to re-imagine how we can provide the resources and benefits our Veterans have earned. Help us meet this challenge!
Be safe and stay healthy!
By Pelagio Valdez, Asian Pacific American Veterans
Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in May, and it is the day Americans celebrate their military. It falls today on Saturday, May 16th, 2020.
Unlike Veterans Day (previously observed as Armistice Day - the end of World War I), it honors those who wore the uniforms of our nation at war. Memorial Day honors those who died wearing the uniforms of our nation at war, while Armed Forces Day is the proper day to recognize and respect all of to the men and women currently serving as well as those who have served and sacrificed to defend our freedom. The men and women currently serving as well as those who have served and sacrificed to defend our freedom.
“Picture this: You sacrifice everything to go to America for a better life, you want your kids to take advantage of the opportunities given to them, and when you finally have a kid, he/she grows up and makes you proud by doing extremely well in school, and when the time comes for them to go to college, they drop it all to risk their life and join the military,” (Luo, Netshark). Child of South Korean immigrants born in Los Angeles, Jonny Kim grew to become a force not only in the Asian American community, but as an American hero: he has a degree in mathematics, he’s a Harvard Medical School graduate, a doctor, a decorated Navy SEAL, and now NASA astronaut!
Luo, Benny, and Jin Hyun. “Meet Jonny Kim - The Man Every Asian Tiger Mom Compares You To.’ NextShark, 22 Feb. 2020
By Pelagio Valdez, Asian Pacific American Veterans
In the jungles of the Southern Philippines, these “Mission Men” teams performed communications disruption, pre-invasion and sabotage tactics. General Douglas MacArthur’s Attack Day (A-Day) was to begin sometime in October 1944 and the outcome of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion’s mission was essential and critical. For his heroism, S/Sgt Rosales was the recipient of the Bronze Star Medal for Valor and the coveted Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB). He was also a qualified paratrooper.
For many of these returning Filipino American WWII Veterans, there were no parades, “hoopla,“ social events or parties. If they didn’t continue serving in the Army, they used their G.I. Bill, bought property and lived to raise their families along with some of their own sons who later served.
I will continue to write about men like this and the “Fighting Filipino” Regiments they served with. I strongly believe we need to preserve their legacy, heritage, honor and history. No one else in America, let alone the rest of the World, will ever know or begin to understand about what “OUR FATHERS” really accomplished. We must keep telling and sharing their experiences and exploits especially to OUR CHILDREN AND THE NEXT GENERATIONS TO FOLLOW!!!
“LAGING UNA” - “ALWAYS FIRST”
“SULUNG” - “FORWARD”
“BAHALA NA!” “COME WHAT MAY!”
“IN HONOR OF OUR FATHERS!”
“78TH ANNIVERSARY (1942-2010)”
By AE Smith, PhD and AD Savell, DNP, Department of Veterans Affairs
Telehealth is changing the way rural Veterans receive mental health care. No longer does a rural Veteran need to drive to an office to see a therapist, nor is distance a possible hindrance to treatment. Telemental health offers a convenience factor that supports continued treatment by overcoming the potential deterrents of time and distance to clinic appointments. Between the advances in technology and the arrival of increasingly powerful personal devices, telehealth offers rural Veterans flexibility in treatment options. Evidence-based psychotherapies are available via personal smart devices and at convenient locations to accommodate work or travel schedules. What follows are two examples among the rural Veteran population receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Telehealth on the Road A Vietnam War-era Veteran requested treatment to address sexual trauma that negatively impacted his marriage. After discussing treatment options, this Veteran chose to engage in cognitive processing therapy (CPT). He was eager to begin treatment as soon as possible and CPT proved to be a good fit for his needs. When he had to leave town for several weeks, he feared that missing sessions would interfere with his progress. He asked to continue his regular visits via the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) VA Video Connect (VVC) option, which is a secure and private technology extending treatment to Veterans beyond clinic walls. By utilizing this patient-focused telehealth technology, he successfully continued his therapy during necessary travel. For his own convenience, he used his smartphone to connect while sitting privately in his car because that venue felt most comfortable to him during his trip. After returning home, he requested an in-clinic appointment be rescheduled as VVC to accommodate additional travel. The flexibility of telehealth technology allowed the Veteran to attend regular sessions while traveling, which supported his goal of significantly reducing PTSD reactions affecting his relationship. Telehealth from Home An Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Veteran had been working with an in-person therapist to reduce PTSD reactions through In Vivo exposure, but hesitated to try the more intense Imaginal Exposure in Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy. His PTSD Checklist (PCL-5) score continued to show symptoms were interfering with his quality of life. As this Veteran felt prepared to engage in more trauma-focused treatment, his therapist retired. He was ready, but no longer had a therapist. Further complicating the situation, he was temporarily off work due to medical issues and going to the clinic was physically challenging. When offered the opportunity to try treatment using VVC to his home, he accepted.
By Juanita Mullen, Program Analyst, Native American/Alaska Native Veterans Liaison
Feb. 11, 2020 – National Indian Women “Supporting Each Other” Luncheon
I was honored to sit at the Veterans Table with Honoree: Ms. Marcella R. Ryan LeBeau, Wigmuke Waste Win (Pretty Rainbow Woman), a 100 year old WWII Veteran, 1st Lt. Army Nurse Corps, from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe-a Lakota of the Two Kettle Band, South Dakota. Ms. LeBeau entered the service in Palm Springs, CA on April 14, 1943 and left on February 17, 1946 – separated on 6 month Reserve status as 1st Lt. Army Nurse Corps.
In her own words from her bio:
During WWII, I served in Wales, England, France and Belgium. In Leominster, England she took care of D-Day causalities. In August 1944, we crossed the English Channel taking several days due to the inclement weather. We climbed down a rope ladder into a landing barge. Camping temporally in a cow pasture in the Carentan area, a French lady served us a banquet with white linens. For the first time since the war began, with tears streaming down her face, she was able to sing the French National Anthem. After Paris, France, we took assignment at the 76th General Hospital in Liege, Belgium. It was a 1000-bed tent hospital on a hill, overlooking Liege, Belgium. My ward was the first ward: A-1 surgical ward staffed by myself, another nurse and two corpsmen.
We had buzz bombs coming over night and day. On June 8, 1945, a buzz bomb hit the tent where the night shift of military police were preparing for bed. Twenty-five military police were killed. One was reported missing in action. After the war, we saw a map where it recorded 3000 buzz bombs hit the Liege area.
I had worked my tour of night duty on a shock ward and was headed for my tent in the nurses quarters. I was met by a nurse who was crying, saying, “It’s awful,” as she explained what she had seen. She said. “don’t go there, get some sleep, they will need you tonight.” I took her advice. That night, we had several patients admitted to the shock ward who had survived the bomb attack.
After the war, my daughter, Kathy and I went to Liege, Belgium, looking for the plaque in memoriam to the twenty-five military police from the 76th General Hospital. We took the train from Paris, France to Liege. At an information counter at the train station, I explained what we wanted to see. As we stood there explaining, a man came up to me. He said, “Lady, because of you, we are free! Thank you,” then he turned and left.
A lady arose from a bench near us and offered to take us wherever we wanted to go. She first took us to her home and onto the Henry Chapelle Military Cemetery. It was there, we saw a log with the names of all who were buried there. We found the names of the 76th General Hospital military police who were killed on June 8, 1945. Most of the men had been repatriated to the USA by the next of kin.
I took care of casualties from three campaigns: African-Middle East, Rhineland and Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge.) We received three battles stars for the three campaigns and a medal of honor from the Belgium Government.
In 2004, Paris, France, the French Government, Ms. LeBeau was awarded the French Legion of Honor, the highest decoration bestowed in France for the veterans service to the French people during WWII. She was a guest of the French Government at the Normandy Beaches for WWII ceremonies. For the 70th anniversary of D-Day, she attended both ceremonies at Omaha Beach and Utah Beach, where she received a round encapsulated sand in glass memento from Utah Beach with engraving stating their thanks for her service during WWII and she was also honored by South Dakota with the Honor Flight to Washington, DC to view the WWII Memorial.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Center for Minority Veterans (CMV), is seeking nominations of qualified candidates to be considered for appointment as a member of the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans (“the Committee”).
Nominations for membership on the Committee must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. ET on July 15, 2020.
For further information, contact Mr. Ronald Sagudan and Mr. Dwayne Campbell, Center for Minority Veterans, Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave. NW (00M), Washington, DC 20420, Telephone (202) 461-6191 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A copy of the Committee charter, application and list of the current membership can be obtained by contacting Mr. Sagudan or Mr. Campbell or by accessing the CMV website.