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March/april 2010

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Minority Affairs


The Minority Affairs Committee has eleven Convention Resolutions now in effect.

MA-1-95 Language-Translated DVA Benefits Materials: This resolution calls on the Department of Veterans Affairs to assess the need to produce its service literature in Spanish and other languages and to make this literature available to its clients. VVA continues its support for distribution by the VA of materials outlining benefits, programs, and adjudication guides in Spanish as well as in other appropriate languages.

Status: The MA Committee continues to monitor the literature sent to veterans and families by the VA.

MA-2-95 Minority Affairs Coverage In The VVA Veteran: Regular minority affairs features in The VVA Veteran should be continued. 

Status: Contact has been made with several Native American veterans’ organizations and veterans, which has resulted in publication of articles on Native American artwork in The VVA Veteran.

MA-3-95 Asian-American and Pacific Islander Veterans: In 1987, the delegates to the third National Convention called on the VA to create an Asian-American veterans working group within its Advisory Committee on Readjustment of Vietnam Veterans in order to ensure attention to the special needs of Asian-American and Pacific-Islander veterans. VVA continues its support for the creation of an Asian-American and Pacific-Islander working group within the VA.

Status: The MA Committee has been working closely with the staff of the VA Center for Minority Veterans and Asian-American and Pacific-Islander veterans’ groups. We recommend that this resolution be continued and combined with MA-8-97.

MA-4-95 Native Americans and Alaskan Natives: VVA recommended at its fourth National Convention the placement of a person qualified in Native-American law in the VA Office of General Counsel. Additionally, the delegates supported the development of personnel orientation and recruitment outreach to tribal reservations, as well as consideration for alternative models of health-care delivery on the reservations. The appointment of a qualified Native American to the position of assistant to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs was also supported.

Status: The MA Committee began outreach to Native-American and Alaskan-native organizations in 2007 and will continue doing so.

MA-5-95 Foreign National Vietnam Veterans Immigration: During the Vietnam War, foreign nationals volunteered and served in the U.S. military. An unknown number of these volunteers were wounded in action, killed, or listed as POW/MIA. Upon returning to the United States, many of these veterans elected to remain and become American citizens, while many others chose to return to their homes. Many of the men who volunteered did so in combat units.

VVA supports legislation to permit free entry into the United States of any foreign nationals who served in the U.S. armed forces and who are Vietnam veterans seeking medical care for service-related disabilities, regardless of length of service. This legislation should also give disabled foreign-national Vietnam veterans eligibility for naturalization irrespective of the 24-month period required in the current statutes (Title 8 and Title 9 U.S.C.) for naturalization status.

Status: The MA Committee supports this resolution and needs to work to have it accomplished.

MA-6-95 Involvement by Minority Veterans Welcomed in VVA: VVA always has promoted itself as an inclusive, rather than exclusive, organization. We always have prided ourselves on the fact that we are an organization whose strength lies in the diversity of its membership. Our mission is to help veterans who served during the Vietnam era without regard to race, creed, color, religion, sex, sexual preference, or national origin.

Status: The MA Committee conducts recruitment and information booths and input at community and national events of minority-veteran organizations and cothe minority ethnic caucus foundations. Membership outreach is made to community ethnic organizations.

MA-7-97 Puerto Rican Veterans and U.S. Virgin Islanders: Over the last five years, medical and mental health services in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands have become less than state of the art. These veterans are suffering at an alarming rate from the lack of these services. VVA renews its commitment for the continuum of health care and VA services to Puerto Rican and U.S. Virgin Islanders and their families, and to increase awareness of the availibility of services.

Status: Since December 2006, VVA has made three investigatory trips to the San Juan, Puerto Rico, VA Hospital and Cemetery and has converyed its concerns to the VA Secretary.

MA -8-97 Recognition of the Services and Sacrifices Made by the Veterans of the Territory of Guam and U.S. Pacific Islanders: The prgrams and services available to the veterans of Guam are severely limited in comparison to those offered their comrades on the U.S. mainland. It is 3,500 miles to the nearest fully staffed VA Outpatient Clinic and over 7,000 miles to the nearest U.S. VA medical center.

Status: The MA Committee continues its support of this resolution. The Region 9 Director is planning a trip to meet with veterans in Guam this year. The committee recommends the merger of this resolution with MA-3-95 and has contacted veterans in the Philippines and Hawaii.

MA-9-97 Awareness and Sensitivity to Racial, Cultural, and Gender-Related Equity Issues: VVA will promote active Diversity Forums and Seminars training programs at all levels of VVA, especially during National Leadership Conferences and National Conventions.

Status: The MA Committee will continue to conduct seminars and have booths at VVA National Leadership Conferences and National Conventions to discuss minority veteran recruitment techniques and issues. The Committee introduced a resolutution at the 2009 National Convention regarding having VA staff available to speak to the family of a patient in that patient’s native language if the patient was incompetent to comprehend the diagnosis and prognosis of his or her injury and communicate it to the family.

MA-10-03 Self-Determination for Puerto Rico: There exists an ever-growing consensus among American veterans and leading veterans organizations, such as the American GI Forum, that the time has come to empower Puerto Rican memen and women who have served in the armed forces of the United States (and their fellow Puerto Ricans) to make a decision regarding their island’s ultimate destiny.

Status: The MA Committee continues to support this resolution.

MA-11-03 U.S. Montagnard Veterans: A significant number of Hmong, Montagnards, and other indigenous peoples served faithfully with American forces in Vietnam. Many of those same people and their families now live in the United States and suffer from the same maladies as American veterans of Vietnam. However, these people receive no benefits or healthcare comparable to the benefits, services, and care accorded to American veterans. It is the duty of American Vietnam veterans to never again let any generation of American veterans to abandon another. It is also our moral duty not to abandon those who fought at our side.

Status: VVA needs to encourage and pursue the comprehensive study of the number of the Montagnard veterans in the United States and how many are injured or ill from their service.

The Minority Affairs Committee: Jerry Yamamoto, Chair; Connie Steers, Vice Chair. Members: Tom Meinhardt, Dave Simmons, Paul E. Crowell, Jr., Norm Hawkins, Jow Jenkins, Jow Jennings, James Maddox, Jorge Pedroza, Pete Peterson, Max Nelson, Johnny Gipson, Rick Davidge, and Frank Ramirez. Advisor; Jack Devine. Staff Liaison: Joe Wynn



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