Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the appointment of four new members to its Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans.
Initially chartered on Nov. 2, 1994, the committee advises the VA Secretary on the needs of the nation’s 4.7 million minority Veterans regarding compensation, health care, rehabilitation, outreach and other benefits and programs administered by VA.
The committee assesses the needs of Veterans who are minority group members and recommends program improvements designed to meet their needs. Committee members are appointed to two- or three-year terms. Minority Veterans comprise nearly 21 percent of the total Veteran population in the United States and its territories, while minority women Veterans represent about 33 percent of the women Veteran population.
The new committee members are:
Phillip L. Billy, an Air Force Veteran from Lindsay, Oklahoma, who is the director of the Chickasaw Nation Veterans Services and has collaborated with the Oklahoma VA to serve Chickasaw Veterans and their families. Billy oversees the services to be provided at the new 15,000-square-foot Veterans Lodge, which is in the final stages of construction.
Robert V. McDonald, a Navy Veteran from Anaheim, California, who was recently re-appointed to the Orange County Veterans Advisory Council, where he is now chairman of the council. McDonald is president and executive director of the Black Chamber of Commerce of Orange County and is leading the organization into its 30th year. Under his leadership, the chamber has partnered consistently with minority business associations, local chambers and legislators to provide support and advocate for the county’s many small-business owners.
Raul E. Rosas, a retired Navy petty officer first class and a disabled/combat Veteran from Columbia, Maryland. Rosas is the founder and executive director of LIFT A VET, a Maryland-Puerto Rico nonprofit assisting Veterans. He serves as a commissioner with the Maryland Veterans Commission, a governor-appointed position, advising the Maryland VA Secretary on issues impacting Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans. He also advises on the development of initiatives and strategies to further the Maryland VA outreach, advocacy and awareness to over 450,000 Veterans residing in Maryland.
Dr. Glenda L. Wrenn Gordon, a 1999 West Point graduate and recipient of the Distinguished Cadet Award from Decatur, Georgia. Gordon is a board certified psychiatrist and director of the Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity at the Morehouse School of Medicine, where she is also an associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Currently, she works clinically with women Veterans at the Women’s Center of Excellence for Specialty Care Education at the Atlanta VA.
The new members join current members Librado “Lee” M. Rivas, committee chairman, a retired Army command sergeant major; Melissa Castillo, a Navy Veteran; Nyamekye C. Anderson, a Marine Corps Veteran; Ginger M. Miller, a Navy Veteran, Ghulam H. Sangi, an Army Veteran; Larry M. Townsend, an Army Veteran; Maria B. Vaa-Igafo, a retired Army sergeant first class; and Fang A. Wong, a retired Army chief warrant officer three.