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

January/February 2004
MINORITY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE REPORT
   
 

A Job Well Done

BY FRANCISCO F. IVARRA, CHAIR

During the week-long Veterans Day ceremonies, members of the Minority Affairs Committee participated in many meetings and events honoring veterans, including the White House breakfast, the Presidential Laying of the Wreath at Arlington National Cemetery, the Freedom Bird Banquet, and the Tenth Anniversary Commemoration of the Dedication of the Vietnam Women's Memorial.

We have an excellent committee this year. We are joined by new members Steve House and Special Advisers Barry Hagge and Donald McDole. The organizational structure of the committee will remain the same with the following vice-presidents representing their respective geographical areas: East Coast, Gumersindo Gomez; South, Albert Lewis; Midwest, Joe Jennings; West, Jerry Yamamoto; and Puerto Rico, Jorge Pedroza. Our commitment and dedication to serving our veterans will continue. We value the support provided by our national leadership and greatly appreciate the opportunity to help our fellow minority veterans.

In order to gain further insight into issues that have a direct impact on our veterans, the committee will be inviting guests to speak on topics relevant to minority veterans during our National Board of Directors Minority Affairs Committee meeting. At the November meeting, Donald McDole, Region 8 director, provided an excellent overview on the eligibility and status of the 34,401 non-citizens currently serving in the military and the 3,000 on active duty in Iraq. To keep our members and the veterans community informed on minority veterans issues, the Minority Affairs Committee will offer a workshop at the 2004 National Leadership Conference in Nashville. We plan to have a "Heroes Corner" in The VVA Veteran honoring a Medal of Honor recipient, and we will continue to identify and submit relevant articles to the Veteran.

One of our major goals is the publication of a Minority Affairs Committee informational
pamphlet. We feel this pamphlet will be the ideal means to recruit new members and to explain the purpose of the Minority Affairs Committee.

Special Adviser Ed Chow and I met with Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi. The discussions with the Secretary included the continued support for the partnerships that exists between VVA and the VA, CARES (Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services) and its impact on our veteransin particular the minority veterans community, budgetary concerns, and the VA Center for Minority Veterans.

Recognizing the importance of a job well done, the Minority Affairs Committee will be
presenting a Diversity Award at National Conventions and Leadership Conferences. This award will recognize excellence in leadership and contributions made to the minority veterans community by an individual, group, or organization.

In keeping with our efforts to be inclusive and at the invitation of VVA Puerto Rico State President Jorge Pedroza, several members of the Minority Affairs Committee will travel to Puerto Rico in January to provide training, education, and outreach to our fellow veterans. This first mission by the VVA Minority Affairs Committee will strengthen our mutual interests, partnerships, and cooperative efforts.

   

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