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november/december 2009

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Improving Communication


Thanks to the members of the Minority Affairs Committee for their hard work during the past two years. This year, with returning and new members on the committee for the next two-year term, we’re going to continue our work from the past term. The 2009-2010 committee members are Paul Crowell, Ric Davidge, Tommy Gipson, Norm Hawkins, Joe Jenkins, Joe Jennings, Tom Meinhart, Max Nelson, Jorge Pedroza, Pete Peterson, Dave Simmons, James Maddox, Frank Ramirez, and Joe Wynn, our Special Advisor. Thanks to John Rowan for re-appointing this chair.

The committee’s Resolution at the Louisville National Convention on the availability of VA staff who could communicate with families of service personnel in their native language when the member was not competent to comprehend his or her medical condition was not approved. The committee will be working to give members a better understanding of the intent of the Resolution, which is aimed at helping family members, not service members. (For more information, see Francisco Muñiz’ letter, “One Family?” on page 5. —Ed.)

A question was received from one of our members: “I wonder why there is no effort to join with Native American veterans and run some information on them. I know Jerry Y. is the Minority Veterans Rep, but he lives in LA and of oriental descent, no disrespect, but something needs to be done, as we have fought in many wars, and many of us in Vietnam.”

Our committee has been attempting to obtain input from the Native American veteran community during the past few years by several means. The VVA member who wrote the above inquiry has consented to forward information on Native American events. I will devote a portion of this column to publicizing those events. Additionally, the committee has been seeking Native American members to join the committee, had one appointed as a special advisor, and attended powwows and Native American conferences to establish contact and recruit members.

Also, I am working with the Native American advisor to the California State Council Minority Affairs Committee, which I chair, to develop a Tribal Veteran Representative program in California that we will bring to National for approval as a program through the Veterans Benefits Department.

Finally, the committee has volunteered to help VVA National with the Native American Health Summit scheduled for this spring in Chandler, Arizona.

The committee is developing a CD for its seminar at next year’s National Leadership Conference in Orlando. The seminar will focus on helping chapters recruit new members.

The committee shared an information and recruitment booth with the Veterans Health Council at the September Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Legislative Conference in Washington. The committee also participated in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Public Policy Conference in September in D.C.

Congratulations to our former Special Advisor, Ed Chow, who has been appointed Secretary of Veterans Affairs for the State of Maryland. We wish Ed well in his new position helping the veterans of Maryland.



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