The committee advises the Secretary of Veterans Affairs regarding the needs of minority Veterans with respect to compensation, health care, rehabilitation, outreach, and other benefits and programs administered by the VA.
“Our Veterans are reflective of the society in which we live, and we draw strength from their diversity,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “VA relies on this committee to provide sound counsel on issues that impact the minority Veteran population, and we welcome the newest members.”
Chartered on Nov. 2, 1994, the committee makes recommendations for administrative and legislative changes. The committee members are appointed to one, two, or three-year terms.
The new committee members include:
- Tommy L. Daniels, Brig. Gen., retired Air Force, of Fort Worth, Texas; General Daniels is a tireless advocate for the equitable treatment of Veterans at the state and federal level. He is a strong supporter of Junior ROTC programs in the Fort Worth school system as well as promoting aerospace and aviation opportunities for minorities.
- Raymond Jardine, Col., retired Army, of Honolulu, Hawaii; Dr. Jardine’s professional experience includes owning and operating Native Hawaiian Veterans, LLC, which provides a wide variety of services to include homeland security, emergency management, information technology, community relations, public outreach, and professional staff augmentation.
- Thanh Dinh, Air Force Veteran of Burke, Va.; Mr. Dinh currently serves as Senior Consultant and Chief Operating Officer for the Odin Group, a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business and certified Minority Business Enterprise. In this capacity, Mr. Dinh was responsible for co-authoring a long term strategic plan for VA’s Veterans Benefit Administration that focused on new initiatives designed to transform the existing VA claims processing operation.
- Harold Hunt, Army Veteran of Pembroke, N.C.; Mr. Hunt has served as Post and District Commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Past Chief of Staff Military Order of the Purple Heart State of North Carolina, and a member of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Lumbee Warriors Association, and National Association of County Veterans Service Officers.
- Shelia Mitchell, Air Force Veteran of Manassas, Va.; Ms. Mitchell currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer for Veterans at Your Service, LLC, a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business that specializes in assisting Veterans in preparing claims for VA benefits.
- Elisandro T. Diaz, Navy Veteran of Santa Ana, Calif.: Mr. Diaz currently serves on the board of the Orange County Home Ownership Prevention Collaborative; with an emphasis on helping Veterans preserve their homes.
There are approximately 4.7 million minority veterans in the United States and its territories, thus comprising nearly 21 percent of the total Veteran population.
The current members of VA’s Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans are:
- Clara L. Adams-Ender, Brig. Gen., retired Army, is president and chief executive officer of Caring About People with Enthusiasm Associates, Inc., a management consulting and inspirational speaking firm
- **Oscar B. Hilman, Brig. Gen., retired Army, served as commander of the 81st Brigade Combat Team in support of Iraqi Freedom II (2004-2005) where his brigade received two combat streamers.
- Benjamin C. Palacios, Command Sgt. Maj., retired Army, is assistant VP, regional account manager for Guam and CNMI region for Science Application International Corporation (SAIC).
- Celia Renteria Szelwach, Army Veteran, provides project management and technical leadership of public health projects focused on rural, women, and minority Veterans as program manager for Atlas Research.
- Marvin Trujillo, Jr., Marine Corps Veteran, is a Laguna Tribal Member who belongs to the Road Runner, Little Parrot, and Turkey Clans. He serves as the Tribal Veterans Service Officer for the Pueblo of Laguna and the Co-Chair of the All Indian Pueblo Council Veterans Committee.
** Denotes Committee Chairman