The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

July 2003
MINORITY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE REPORT
   
 

Promoting Diversity in VVA

BY FRANCISCO F. IVARRA, CHAIR


The VVA Minority Affairs Committee had an excellent and successful year. I would like to thank the members of the committee for their attendance, support, and the work they have done to increase diversity awareness within VVA. I also appreciate the support we continue to receive from our national office and our national leadership. Committee members continue to work to increase minority veterans' membership, to work with the VA and its Center for Minority Affairs, and to address issues that seriously impact our minority veterans community.

The committee values and respects all previous resolutions that support minority veterans. Currently, we support Resolution R-17 and Resolution R-19. Resolution R-17 requests that VVA National support legislation and policy for Vietnam's Montagnards to make them eligible to receive VA benefits. The resolution further requests that Montagnards become eligible for VVA membership. Resolution R-19 requests VVA National to support legislation in Congress for Puerto Rico self-determination.

These resolutions were discussed in detail and were approved unanimously. The name change of the committee was revisited. The committee will continue to be known as the Minority Affairs Committee. We are working on an informational pamphlet that will explain what the committee is and what it does for minority veterans. The committee is discussing the awarding of a National Diversity Award, making this award available to a person, organization, or group. Criteria considered and discussed are: community contributions made to the minority veterans community and community service offered including education, scholarship, and leadership programs.

The committee approved the appointment of Albert Q. Lewis as vice chair to represent the southern United States. With Lewis' appointment, the committee will have geographical representation from all areas of the United States: West, Jerry Yamamoto; Midwest/Central, Joe Jennings; East, Gumersindo Gomez; South, Albert Lewis; and Puerto Rico, Jorge Pedroza. Lewis has been appointed to head our clearinghouse for articles from the committee for publication in The VVA Veteran.

We value the efforts being made to increase diversity at the national office. The chair requested that VVA National submit a letter of support for the construction of a new VA Hospital in Puerto Rico and a letter of support to have the name of Squaw Peak changed to Piestewa Peak for Pfc. Lori Piestewa, a member of the Hopi Nation in Tuba City, Arizona, who was the first U.S. servicewoman killed in the Iraq War (See Piestewa).

We are proud to serve on this important committee, and we are proud to reflect diversity within VVA.

   

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