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Committee Report

BY JERRY YAMAMOTO, CHAIR

The Minority Affairs Committee congratulates the Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment, the Borinqueneers, for being awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. This medal was presented in June to honor the regiment’s heroic service and sacrifices during the Korean War. We are proud of the regiment and its members.

The committee manned its VVA health benefit information and membership booth at the 2014 National Convention of the NAACP in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Resort Hotel July 12-16. Members of the VVA and AVVA chapters in Las Vegas were recruited to work in the booth. This was the sixth year the Minority Affairs Committee has had a booth at this convention.

The committee also will have its health benefit info and membership booth in Washington, D.C., September 24-27 at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference. The booth provides information to active duty military, veterans, and their families about the health and disability retirement benefits available from the VA. Many veterans don’t realize that their health issues may be the result of their military service. We direct them to their local VVA veteran service officer for help completing the VA paperwork, and to the VA for health services.


Now is the Time for Congress to Grant Statehood for Puerto Rico

Jorge Pedroza with Dr. Ricardo Rossello and VVA National President John Rowan

VVA Puerto Rico State Council President Jorge Pedroza (left), with Dr. Ricardo Rossello and VVA National President John Rowan (right)

The citizens of Puerto Rico have voted for statehood in the plebiscite mandated by Congress. In is now time for Congress to grant statehood for Puerto Rico. On October 12, the VVA National Board of Directors voted unanimously to pass a motion to seek a legislative sponsor to support the plebiscite, which was voted for and passed by the citizens of Puerto Rico. a

Jorge Pedroza, president of the VVA Puerto Rico State Council, introduced Dr. Ricardo Rossello, who spoke about the veterans of Puerto Rico and the vote for statehood, which passed on November 6, 2012. Dr. Rossello, a Biomedical Engineer and Neurobiologist who holds degrees from MIT and the University of Michigan, is a research professor at Duke University.

In August 2003, the delegates to VVA’s 11th National Convention adopted Resolution MA-10, Self-determination for Puerto Rico, resolving to support legislation whereby the United States Congress would define the political status options available to United States citizens of Puerto Rico and authorize a plebiscite to provide an opportunity for Puerto Ricans to make an informed decision regarding the island‘s future.


MINUTES OF MINORITY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE MEETING 01/11/13

The meeting was called to order at 2:20 pm at the Sheraton Silver Spring Hotel.

Guests attending were Ms. Barbara Ward, Director of VA Center for Minority Veterans, Ms. Stephanie Birdwell, Director of VA Office of Tribal Government Relations, and Ray Bates, VVA member from Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

Members attending were Joe Jennings, Pete Peterson, Dave Simmons, Vice Chair, Jerry Yamamoto, Chair, Pat Toro (officially appointed by BOD on 1/12/13).

Minutes of the October 5, 2012 meeting were distributed that had previously been approved on email by members. The agenda for this meeting was approved as presented.

Nominated for regular membership was Pat Toro. It’ll be presented for BOD approval on the Consent Calendar at the current NBOD meeting.

Ms. Barbara Ward, Director of VA Center for Minority Veterans, was introduced. She made a presentation about the Center’s Mission, goals, staffing and programs. She answered written questions that the committee had provided to further understand the duties of the Center and its programs and staff activities.

 Ms. Stephanie Birdwell, Director of VA Office of Tribal Government Relations, made a presentation about her office’s mission, staffing, programs and goals. She discussed the contacts and agreements her office has made with the over 500 Native American tribal organizations. Stephanie, also, answered written questions from the committee that highlighted the duties and programs of her office. Ms. Birdwell reviewed and assisted the committee with updating the information to be presented at the National Convention as Resolution MA-4-95 Native Americans and Alaskan Natives. Stephanie confirmed that no person qualified in Native American law has been placed in the DVA Office of General Counsel.

The committee reviewed and approved the FY 2014 Budget proposal that it had, previously, discussed and approved at its October 5, 2012 meeting. The finalized paperwork was submitted to Joe Sternburg.

Pat Toro is working on the revised version of the committee’s information booklet. It will be completely revised with new artwork and a translation of its text into Spanish.

The committee is working on its Legislative program for inclusion in the VVA 113th Congress Legislative Agenda. Several items will be submitted as the committee legislative priorities.

The committee discussed the nonprinting of VA brochures and other communications in Spanish. The subject of this committee resolution on this topic is still not met by the VA. The committee Is also continuing all of the other resolutions approved at the 2011 National Convention as it monitors the progress of the these resolutions towards completion.

No further information regarding the support of legislation for the creation of a Native American Veteran Memorial in DC has been received from the United South and East Tribes since mid 2012. The situation was discussed with Sharon Hodge, Governmental Affairs Department, who stated that no contact has been made with her office. The committee does not know if it will author a resolution on this topic for the 2013 National Convention without further input from the United Tribes or Seminole Nation of Florida.

Sharon Hodge will contact the office of Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth to see if Tammy is available to attend the April 2013 NBOD to receive the 2011 Diversity Award to her and also to address the NBOD meeting attendees.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:45PM.

Meeting minutes recorded and transcribed by Jerry Yamamoto, Chair   


MINORITY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE MINUTES FOR OCTOBER 5, 2012  

The Minority Affairs Committee meeting was called to order at 2:20 PM at the Sheraton Silver Spring Hotel.

Attendees were Donna Crowell, Mary Miller, Henry Urioste (guest), Buster Newberry (guest), Pete Peterson, Joe Jennings, Paul E. Crowell Jr., Pat Toro, Jr., Allen Manuel, Dave Simmons, Vice Chair, and Jerry Yamamoto, Chair.

Absentee were: Joe Wynn, Staff Advisor, was an excused absence; Cecilio Besares, Ric Davidge, Ivan Freeland, Tommy Gipson, Virgie Hibbler, James Maddox, Tom Meinhardt, Alvin Roberts, Ron Speight, Tom Wilson. Note that a number of these members were appointed even though they cannot regularly attend our committee meeting during the national board meeting weekend per recommendation by National President John Rowan in 2005.

The minutes of the April 20, 2012, chaired by Dave Simmons, were already previously approved by email. The meeting agenda was approved as written.

Nominations for committee membership for the remainder of the term for Henry Urioste and Buster Newberry will be forwarded to the National Board of Directors for approval.

A draft of the proposal committee budget and justification for the FY 2013-2014 was reviewed with changes finalized by the committee. The Auxiliary Budget and justification were reviewed and approved as written. The revised document will be presented to the committee at its January 11, 2013 meeting for
final approval and submission after approval at that meeting with other accompanying documents.

The committee’s information and membership brochure was reviewed for any updating. The national office address has to be changed as well as ages for life membership. The committee decided that the brochure should be printed in English and Spanish. Pat Toro will work on that revision. Reprinting policies, the need for possible new design by our VVA graphic artist and obtaining the artwork from the previous printer were discussed by the committee and, also, separately, by the Chair with the Communications Director, VVA Veteran Editor and VVA National Vice President.

The committee reviewed its Convention Resolution MA-1”Language-Translated DVA Benefits Materials”. Committee members discussed the issue of whether the VA has been publishing its brochures for Spanish speakers printed in Spanish and felt that has not been done. Pat Toro will investigate and report back to the committee his findings on whether the VA is actually printing its brochures and other communications in Spanish.
           
The committee has no legislative proposals to advance for the next Legislative session. The committee chair had discussed Rep. Barbara Lee’s Health Equity Act of 2011with her staff in January 2012. The bill has not progressed out of committee so is dead according to Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Ric Davidge.
           
Barbara Ward is the newly-appointed Director of the VA Center for Minority Veterans. Stephanie Birdwell, Director of the VA Office of Tribal Government Relations, cancelled her previous invitation to address our committee. Both directors are being invited to our January 11, 2013 meeting. Barbara Ward given Sharon Hodge a verbal confirmation to appear when they met in September.

A discussion took place about how to be able to assist Native American veterans with their health issues. After a long discussion it is obvious that the Native Americans do not trust outsiders who do not involve themselves in Native American activities such as pow wows and other tribal activities.
           
A resolution for the support of successful legislation and approval of the building of a Native American veteran statue in the vicinity of the Vietnam Wall and Three Soldiers Monument has been received from the United South and Eastern Tribes. This resolution originated with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The committee will work on submitting a convention resolution to support that proposal.

A second convention resolution will be written to support Native Americans and Alaska Natives as the committee accidentally removed the previous resolution instead of just a portion of it at the 2011 Reno National Convention. The committee will ask Stephanie Birdwell assist us with the writing of that resolution from the Native American perspective.
           
Finally, the assigned staff advisor is unable to attend our committee meeting as he attends a different committee meeting on our tier. He provides much insight and assistance to the Chair so our committee is not asking for a replacement for him. Instead, a co-staff advisor is being requested.
           
The meeting was adjourned at 4:10 pm.


MINORITY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE REPORT TO THE NBOD
FOR OCTOBER 5, 2012 MEETING

The Minority Affairs Committee meeting was called to order at 2:20 PM at the Sheraton Silver Spring Hotel.

Attendees were Donna Crowell, Mary Miller, Henry Urioste, Buster Newberry, Pete Peterson, Joe Jennings, Paul E. Crowell Jr., Pat Toro, Jr., Allen Manuel, Dave Simmons, Vice Chair, and Jerry Yamamoto, Chair. Joe Wynn, Staff Advisor, was absent.

The minutes of the April 20, 2012, chaired by Dave Simmons, were already previously approved by email. The meeting agenda was approved as written.

Nominations for committee membership for the remainder of the term for Henry Urioste and Buster Newberry will be forwarded to the National Board of Directors for approval.

 A draft of the proposal committee budget and justification for the FY 2013-2014 was reviewed with changes finalized by the committee. The Auxiliary Budget and justification were reviewed and approved as written. The revised document will be presented to the committee at its January 11, 2013 meeting for
final approval and submission after approval at that meeting with other accompanying documents.

The committee’s information and membership brochure was reviewed for any updating. The national office address has to be changed as well as ages for life membership. The committee decided that the brochure should be printed in English and Spanish. Pat Toro will work on that revision. Reprinting policies, the need for possible new design by our VVA graphic artist and obtaining the artwork from the previous printer were discussed by the committee and, also, separately, by the Chair with the Communications Director, VVA Veteran Editor and VVA National Vice President.

The committee reviewed its Convention Resolution MA-1”Language-Translated DVA Benefits Materials”. Committee members discussed the issue of whether the VA has been publishing its brochures for Spanish speakers printed in Spanish and felt that has not been done. Pat Toro will investigate and report back to the committee his findings on whether the VA is actually printing its brochures and other communications in Spanish.
           
The committee has no legislative proposals to advance for the next Legislative session. The committee chair had discussed Rep. Barbara Lee’s Health Equity Act of 2011with her staff in January 2012. The bill has not progressed out of committee so is dead according to Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Ric Davidge.
           
Barbara Ward is the newly-appointed Director of the VA Center for Minority Veterans. Stephanie Birdwell, Director of the VA Office of Tribal Government Relations, cancelled her previous invitation to address our committee. Both directors are being invited to our January 11, 2013 meeting. Barbara Ward given Sharon Hodge a verbal confirmation to appear when they met in September.

A discussion took place about how to be able to assist Native American veterans with their health issues. After a long discussion it is obvious that the Native Americans do not trust outsiders who do not involve themselves in Native American activities such as pow wows and other tribal activities.
           
A resolution for the support of successful legislation and approval of the building of a Native American veteran statue in the vicinity of the Vietnam Wall and Three Soldiers Monument has been received from the United South and Eastern Tribes. This resolution originated with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The committee will work on submitting a convention resolution to support that proposal.

A second convention resolution will be written to support Native Americans and Alaska Natives as the committee accidentally removed the previous resolution instead of just a portion of it at the 2011 Reno National Convention. The committee will ask Stephanie Birdwell assist us with the writing of that resolution from the Native American perspective.
           
Finally, the assigned staff advisor is unable to attend our committee meeting as he attends a different committee meeting on our tier. He provides much insight and assistance to the Chair so our committee is not asking for a replacement for him. Instead, a co-staff advisor is being requested.
           
The meeting was adjourned at 4:10 pm.

Minutes and Report to the Board are written and submitted by
Jerry Yamamoto, Chair
October 11, 2012  


VVA Veteran Minority Affairs
Committee Report for March/April 2012

The VVA Minority Affairs Committee is required by Convention Resolution to provide this yearly report on actions which are taken which further the implementation of currently active convention resolutions. The current committee resolutions are referenced below.

MA-1 Language-Translated DVA Benefits Materials. The committee continues to monitor the DVA benefits materials to insure that they are translated in the relevant language for veterans and their families.  

MA-2 Minority Affairs Coverage in the VVA Veteran. The committee is continually looking for articles to print in the VVA Veteran about minority veteran activities, such as was done with an article on Alaskan native vets.

MA-3 Asian American/Pacific Islander Veterans. The committee chair participated in two conference calls for the White House Initiative on Asian American Pacific Islanders in December and the VVA was in attendance at a WHIAAPI Roundtable at the VA in January 2012.

MA-5 Foreign National Vietnam Veterans Immigration. The committee continues to actively support the foreign national Vietnam Veterans who seek medical services in the United States.

MA-6 Involvement by Minority Veterans Welcomed in VVA. The committee annually has health information and recruitment booths at the NAACP National Convention and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Conference as well as attending the conferences and dinners of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies and local ethnic veteran community programs. It also interfaces with the VA Center For Minority Veterans staff.

MA-7 Puerto Rican Veterans and U.S. Virgin Islanders. The committee has been approached to make an inspection visit of VA facilities in Puerto Rico with the Regional Director.

MA-8 Recognition of the Services and Sacrifices Made by the Veterans of the Territory of Guam and U.S. Pacific Islanders. The committee continues to support the improvement in health services for the Vietnam veterans of Guam and all U. S. Pacific Islanders. This is the reason for the ongoing involvement of the committee in the White House Initiative on Asian American Pacific Islanders conference calls and roundtables.

MA-9 Awareness and Sensitivity to Racial, Cultural and Gender-Related Equity Issues. The committee recently visited the Capitol office of California Congresswoman Barbara Lee to advise the congresswoman of the VVA’s support of her Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011 that supports Asian American Pacific Islanders health issues.

MA-10 Self-Determination for Puerto Rico. The committee continues to monitor the progress of attempts to have a plebiscite vote in Puerto Rico to determine its future.

MA-11 U.S. Montagnard Veterans. The committee is attempting to work on a study of the status of Montagnard veterans to provide the mandated report to the National Board of Directors that was not done as required to the Board by Spring 2004.

MA-4-95 Native American and Alaskan Natives Resolution was retired at the 2011 onvention because its goals were met with the establishment of an Office of Tribal Relations at the VA and the appointment of its director. The VA also signed an MOU with the Indian Health Services that was directed to provide services by both agencies. The committee plans to monitor the progress of this office and its director in assisting Native American veterans.

The committee will continue to maintain its contacts with the ethnic minority congressional caucuses in this term. It will continue to coordinate with the VA Center For Minority Veterans, the National Association For Black Veterans and other ethnic minority veteran organizations.

The committee is looking forward to participating in several seminars at this summer’s National Leadership Conference in Irving, Texas. It also continues to setup a Point of Contact Minority Affairs person in each state.

The Minority Committee members are: Jerry Yamamoto, Chair; Dave Simmons, Vice Chair; Members Cecilio Besares, Paul Crowell, Ric Davidge, Tommy Gipson, Virgie Hibbler, Joe Jennings, James Maddox, Tom Meinhardt, Pete Peterson, Alvin Roberts, Ron Speight, Connie Steers, Pat Toro and Tom Wilson. Joe Wynn (NABVets)is a Special Advisor. AVVA Advisors are Donna Crowell and Mary Miller.


MINORITY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE MINUTES FOR OCTOBER 5, 2012  

Attendees were Donna Crowell, Mary Miller, Henry Urioste, Buster Newberry, Pete Peterson, Joe Jennings, Paul E. Crowell Jr., Pat Toro, Jr., Allen Manuel, Dave Simmons, Vice Chair, and Jerry Yamamoto, Chair. Joe Wynn, Staff Advisor, was absent.

The minutes of the April 20, 2012, chaired by Dave Simmons, were already previously approved by email. The meeting agenda was approved as written.

Download The Meeting Minutes


MINUTES FOR JANUARY 2012 COMMITTEE MEETING

ATTENDEES:  Joe Jennings, Pat Toro, Pete Peterson, John Birch, James Maddox and Jerry Yamamoto, Chair.

The members present approved the meeting agenda as written.

Download The Meeting Minutes


Diversity Award
The Vietnam Veterans of America Minority Affairs Committee Diversity Award recognizes outstanding achievement by an individual, business or organization in the promotion of diversity within the veteran’s community.

All nominees must have made a significant contribution to the advancement of diversity and to the mission statement of the VVA. Considered contributions may include, but not limited to initiative and programs that advance harmony and respect, improve social justice, human rights and cultural awareness.

The award represents specific efforts and achievements that develop a culture and environment in which diversity is valued.

Download The Award Criteria Here
Download The Nominations Procedures Here


FISCAL YEAR 2012 - 2013    
VVA MINORITY AFFAIRS  COMMITTEE  BUSINESS PLAN

The Minority Affairs Committee is established as a standing committee at the National level of Vietnam Veterans of America in accordance with the Constitution of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Article 1, Section 7, Paragraph B, and further defined in Appendix II. “The Minority Affairs Committee shall identify and develop programs of awareness of, and programs of interest to, minority veterans of the Vietnam Veterans of America, and shall seek to expand the membership of minorities in the Vietnam Veterans of America. The Committee shall coordinate its activities closely with the President, other Officers, and committee chairpersons.”

The mission of the Minority Affairs Committee is twofold. First, it is to ensure that the unique circumstances, needs and concerns of our diverse ethnic minority veterans are valued, respected and addressed. The second is to ensure that the inclusive organizational mission respects and values the unique circumstances of our diverse ethnic veterans. Our vision is a committee and veterans’ organization that promotes and values diversity within its organizational structure.

The Minority Affairs Committee will be working to ensure that the health care needs of our minority veterans and their dependents are identified, addressed and responsibly serviced by the Veterans Administration, its staff, facilities and programs. As a part of the national organization we are dedicated to ensuring that the VA is adequately, consistently and sufficiently funded in order to meet the needs of our veterans. The Committee Chair serves as a member of the Government Affairs Committee.

Recent Accomplishments in FY 2011 - 2012

  • Presented Fifth National Diversity Award in person to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki at the 2011 Reno National Convention. Also selected Tammy Duckworth for award.
  • Attended Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Legislative Conference in Washington, DC and co-hosted membership/information booth with VVA InterGovernment Affairs Department.
  • Stephanie Birdwell, Director, VA Office of Tribal Relations, spoke at MAC committee meeting at National Board of Directors meeting in Silver Spring, MD.
  • Co-hosted with NABVETS a health benefit and membership info booth as well as a separate Veterans Health Council booth at 2011 NAACP National Convention in Los Angeles.
  • Attended Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) Gala in DC.
  • Made  presentation about MAC Point of Contact Project at CSCP Winter Meeting in California.
  • Met in DC and local district offices with California Congresswomen and staff to gain support and sponsorship of veteran legislative bills.
  • Participated in two White House Initiative Asian American Pacific Islander Conference Calls.
  • Participated in VA White House Initiative Asian American Pacific Islander Roundtable in DC.

Deliverables:

  • Identified three goals critical to the Minority Affairs Committee’s success in the next two years:
    • Outreach to Veterans;
    • Working Closely with the VA Center For Minority Veterans;
    • Development of our political agenda.
  • Prepare bimonthly articles for the Minority Affairs Committee column in the VVA Veteran.
  • Coordinate with National and regional minority veteran organizations and individuals to recruit minority members and create new VVA chapters.

Measurements:

  • Participate in VVA membership recruitment booths at national or regional conventions of minority organizations such as NAACP, Native American POWWOWS or attend conferences of the Congressional Ethnic and Veterans Caucuses.
  • Represent minority veterans concerns at public hearings of VA, Federal Commissions and other similar federal panels as well as local, regional, state and national governmental bodies.

Budget:

  • Minority Affairs Committee:  $   proposed  budget for FY 2012-2013  

Quarterly Reports

March 2012

December 2011

minutes

January 2014

October 2013

April 2012

January 2012

October 2011

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