The Voice | Issue 1 - Fiscal Year 2021 - Center for Minority Veterans (CMV)
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Center for Minority Veterans (CMV)

 

The Voice | Issue 1 - Fiscal Year 2021

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  |  Native American History Month  |  Filipino Heritage Month  |  CMV’s Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans Meeting  |  >Minority Veteran Program Coordinators - Highlighting Award Winning MVPC Anthony Hodges, Columbia VA Health Care System Outreach Program Specialist  |  My Personal “Find A Veteran, Post A Tribute” Experience
Executive Director’s Corner

Stephen Dillard, CMV DirectorIn the month of November 2020, our Nation, led by the Department of Veterans Affairs, pays tribute and bestows honor to our Veterans. at the Department of Veterans Affairs, every day is Veterans Day.

As citizens of the greatest country on earth, every day, we should work to afford our Veterans the highest merit they are due.

CMV is a staunch advocate for our minority Veterans. We engage, inform and educate our Veterans, their families, internal and external partners and stakeholders about VA’s programs and services. This is the most important step toward a Veteran’s enrollment in VA programs and services.

In addition to the outreach activities we perform, we also incorporate annual observances into our strategic outreach plans by capitalizing and supporting the following Cultural Heritage Monthswithin the VA and across our network.

  1. National American Indian Heritage Month - On August 3, 1990, President of the United States George H. W. Bush declared the month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month.
  2. National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated every year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 to recognize the contribution of both Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States.
  3. Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a month-long celebration in May that is now known as Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
  4. Black History Month: The celebration of Black History Month began as “Negro History Week,” which was created in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African American historian, scholar, educator and publisher. It became a month-long celebration for the month of February in 1976.

Although the “Culture Heritage Months” activities are relative, CMV coupled with the 415,000, VA employees pivoted from the pre-COVID-19 outreach routines and continued to implement the Department of Veterans Affairs noble mission despite the challenges of the last nine months.

We owe our staff members, partners, stakeholders and especially our Veterans with a word of heartfelt gratitude for your commitment and unconditional support throughout this pandemic. Again, thank you VA employees and CMV staff members!

I am excited about the opportunity to collaborate with you to serve our Veterans in fiscal year and calendar year 2021!

May God continue to bless our Veterans, their families and the United States of America!

Word from the Deputy Director

Dennis May, CMV Deputy DirectorEven during the worst pandemic in over a century, the outreach efforts of the Center for Minority Veterans continue.

I was honored to recently take part in the Blacks in Government’s Military Veterans Emphasis Program Veterans Day Forum on November 4, 2020. The forum offered CMV the opportunity to share our mission objectives to a nationwide audience of BIG members, including both Veterans and non-Veterans. This effort was noteworthy because BIG has chapters across the country in every federal agency. Since approximately 25% of the federal workforce is composed of Veterans, this was a chance to disseminate important information to a broad audience.

In addition to presentations from CMV, the forum also featured a Veterans Benefit briefing from Julian Wright, VBA Minority Veteran Program Coordinator Liaison, and Mr.DeLano D. McVay, Program Analyst, Strategic Outreach & Communications from VA’s Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization. The event was organized and sponsored by Dr. Candace S.P. Williams, the BIG Military Veterans Emphasis Program Chairwoman. Among the nationwide audience participating in a virtual setting was the Honorable Dr. Doris P. Sartor, National President of Blacks In Government, Inc.

On Veteran’s Day, I was privileged to present the CMV overview to the men of the Eastern Region of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity during their annual Veteran’s Day Virtual Luncheon. Over 40 participants from states throughout the East coast joined the Veterans Day event using the Zoom platform. In addition to presentations from CMV, the event featured a Veterans Benefits overview presented by Mr. Charles Tapp, Chief Financial Officer, Veterans Benefits Administration.

These are just a couple of examples that highlight the importance of our work even during these difficult times. We encourage all our stakeholders and partners to take advantage of these resources to ensure the Veterans we support continue to receive the benefits and services they’ve earned.

Native American History Month

In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994. NativeAmericanHeritageMonth.org. Earlier this month, the United States had a record-breaking- six Native American candidates elected into Congress!

According to Indian Country Today, Native Americans serve in the Armed Services at the highest rate compared to other groups although they represent one of the smaller groups. Their past and present-day accomplishments are essential to our legacy at the VA. One of CMV’s very own, Native American/Alaska Native liaison Juanita Mullen of the Seneca Nation, was recently highlighted in The Washington Post (WP) along with other modern day Native American Veterans. WP Columnist Theresa Vargas brought to light Juanita’s journey as a Native American woman in the Air Force. Enlisting in the United States Air Force after seeing a television commercial, “he was 5-foot-3 and weighed 100 pounds — and after she arrived at a base in San Antonio, she found the only uniforms available were made to fit men. She was given a pair of boots two sizes too big and [pants] she had to roll at the waist to make fit,” (Vargas, WashingtonPost.com). Juanita stresses that there are over 500 federally recognized tribes and other tribes that are not federally recognized so there are countless stories that could be told. With that being said, in order to provide the most effective outreach to the tribes, she researches the tribes prior to meeting with the tribal leaders (Vargas, WashingtonPost.com).

Over the years, Juanita has become one of my favorite humans. She has educated me on many things such as art, motherhood, Native American history, books, and most importantly, her love and respect to Mother Nature and animals. She has taught me that every living thing has a soul and to treat each thing as so.

Juanita speaks about her life as a Native American woman Veteran as a keynote speaker during VA TEDx Juanita speaks about her life as a Native American woman Veteran as a keynote speaker during VA TEDx Juanita in a park, loving nature.
 
Filipino Heritage Month

The History of Filipino American Activism | Filipino American History Month October 2020
View the full poster

October marked the celebration of Filipino Heritage Month which was first recognized by Congress in 2009 according to the Ke Kalahea Fall 2020 newsletter. The 2020 Filipino Heritage month theme is “The History of Filipino Activism,” which highlights Filipino’s role in social justice movements. To celebrate Filipino Veterans, the sole surviving WWII Filipino solider, Sixto Tabay, comes to mind. The Garden Island writes, “Tabay is one out of 13 Filipino veterans who served with the 12th Infantry Division, a group of 10,473 Filipinos enlisted from the Philippines to fight for the United States, and Tabay was honored with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal. Former President Barrack Obama signed the historic bill, “Congressional Gold Medal Award,” that would end the 75 years of injustice and humiliation that Filipino Veterans faced and help Filipino World War II Veterans regain their honor and dignity,” (TheGardenIsland.com, Shinno).

Sixto Tabay, sole surviving World War II Filipino Veteran

CMV’s Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans (ACMV) Meeting

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) gives notice under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. App. 2., that the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans will virtually meet on December 8 – December 10, 2020 via Adobe Connect. The meeting sessions will begin and end as follows:

Dates/Times

  • December 8, 2020 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET
  • December 9, 2020 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET
  • December 10, 2020 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET

This meeting sessions are open to the public. To access the meeting, please use the Adobe Connect or via phone VANTS: 1-800-767-1750, Participant Code: 09533#. The purpose of the Committee is to advise the Secretary on the administration of VA benefits and services to minority Veterans; assess the needs of minority Veterans; and evaluate whether VA compensation, medical and rehabilitation services, outreach, and other programs are meeting those needs. The Committee makes recommendations to the Secretary regarding such activities. Members of the public may also submit written statements for the Committee’s review to Ms. Juanita Mullen, at Juanita.Mullen@va.gov. Any member of the public seeking additional information should contact Ms. Mullen or Mr. Dwayne Campbell 202-461-6191. Read the full Notice of Meeting.

Minority Veteran Program Coordinators (MVPCs) - Highlighting Award Winning MVPC Anthony Hodges, Columbia VA Health Care System (CVAHCS) Outreach Program Specialist

Anthony Hodges, winner of the 2020 Diversity & Inclusion Excellence Award; Columbia VA Health Care System (CVAHCS)Anthony is a 14-year U.S. Navy Veteran that served in the Persian Gulf War. His character is well explained in the nomination for the Diversity & Inclusion Excellence Awards Program written by his supervisor, Yolanda Brown. She writes, “over the years working with Anthony, I have learned that he doesn’t seek the spotlight. However, he is constantly working behind the scenes to provide exceptional support and service to the Veterans and employees. He discerns quickly their individual needs and moves efficiently to provide them key information, recommendations, or direction. When not behind the scenes, Anthony is on the front row supporting the efforts.” She goes further to state, “he is known for his patience, kindness, and willingness to listen even when emotions are high… [he] is the epitome of great attitude.” It is no surprise that Anthony won the award from his work and package write up.

Access a listing of MVPCs by administration and state, who can provide service within your community.

My Personal “Find A Veteran, Post A Tribute” Experience

I am lucky to have come from a family full of Veterans! First, it was my maternal grandfather Green Williams who served in the Army (Air Corps) during World War II. Next, it was my paternal great-uncle Captain Lloyd Harold Jacobs, a Tuskegee Airman, who flew during World War II, Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Finally, my grandfather by marriage, John Williams, who also served in the US Air Force. I was excited to see VA’s National Cemetery Administration’s (NCA) campaign: “Find A Veteran, Post A Tribute” which was an “effort to increase awareness of the Veterans Legacy Memorial (VLM) — the nation’s first digital platform dedicated entirely to memorializing more than 3.7 million Veterans interred in VA’s national cemeteries,” (Vantage, Inouye). “This is a great way for members of the public to help make sure that No Veteran Ever Dies,” Randy Reeves, the Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs. I decided to ensure that my grandfathers “never die” by leaving my virtual tributes on their pages. It was an easy process.

First, I visited www.va.gov/remember. Next, I entered the first and last name. The online form also encourages the viewer to input the branch of service, war period, and location of the gravesite. Not all fields need to be filled; but the more fields populated, the better chances of the tribute page being found. Click the search button, then a list of Veterans will show the Veterans’ names, date of death, and his or her branch of service seal. Once you choose your Veteran, his or her tribute page will open with their details, a photo of the final resting place, and a photo of the tombstone or grave site. At the bottom of the page, there is an option to submit, like, or flag a comment. It is an option to sign in as a guest when leaving a comment. After submitting your post by selecting “publishing,” a confirmation message of “Thank you for your submission. All submissions are reviewed by a moderator to ensure compliance with the VLM User Policy.” It took approximately 24 hours for my post to be approved. I received an email at the address I signed up with after submitting and again, once my post was successfully added to the tribute.