On July 14, VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson spoke to the League of United Latin American Citizens 87th annual LULAC National Convention and Exposition. LULAC is the largest and oldest Hispanic organization in the United States, with approximately 132,000 members in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Gibson and LULAC President Roger Rocha signed a memorandum of agreement creating a strategic partnership between VA and LULAC, which reaffirms both organizations’ mutual commitment to America’s Veterans, their family members and survivors.
“Hispanics have always been a part of the American mosaic,” Gibson said, “but only recently have they begun to receive a fair share of honor for their military service to the United States.”
Gibson recounted Secretary Bob McDonald’s April trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he presented the Congressional Gold Medal to Veterans of the legendary 65th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Borinqueneers. Gibson also recognized the late Juan Negrón, whose Distinguished Service Cross was posthumously upgraded to the Medal of Honor after a 2002 Pentagon review revealed Sgt. Negrón was one of 24 service members previously denied the award due to discrimination.
“VA works hard to keep the nation’s promise to Veterans like Juan Negrón,” Gibson said, “But we can’t continue to improve the Veteran experience without the support of Congress and help from our strategic partners. “
Signing this partnership agreement furthers the MyVA initiative, which enables VA to put the needs, expectations and interests of Veterans and their families first by maximizing the resources and outreach capabilities of partner organizations. The five MyVA objectives include:
- Improving the Veteran experience
- Improving the employee experience — so we can better serve Veterans
- Improving internal support services
- Establishing a culture of continuous improvement
- Enhancing strategic partnerships
VA and LULAC are committed to work together to ensure that Hispanic Veterans do not miss out on their benefits or their opportunities for employment. VA employees will also benefit by being able to participate in LULAC job fairs, workshops, and conventions and LULAC will continue to train VA leaders and employees through its Federal Training Institute, a leadership development curriculum that includes situational leadership, conflict management and strategies for success.
In February 2016, Secretary McDonald signed a similar agreement with the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, the association of appointed state leaders that manage veterans’ affairs and carry out the responsibility for veteran services and programs in their respect state district or island.