VA announced the appointment of four new members to the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans on Dec. 21. The committee was chartered on Nov. 2, 1994, and advises the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on the needs of the nation’s 4.7 million minority Veterans on compensation, health care, rehabilitation, outreach and other benefits and programs administered by the VA.   The committee assesses the needs of Veterans who are minority group members and recommends program improvements designed to meet their needs. The committee members are appointed to two or three-year terms. Minority Veterans comprise nearly 21 percent of the total Veteran population.

The new committee members are:

CastilloMelissa Castillo: Navy Veteran of San Antonio, Texas. Served as the Assistant Regional Director for San Antonio Region, Veterans County Service Officer Association of Texas; Assistant Women Veterans Coordinator; Advisor to the US Army Survivor Outreach Services Program; and Advisor to the Alamo Community College District Veterans Affairs Committee. Currently serves as the Assistant Veterans Service Officer at the Bexar County Veterans Service Office in San Antonio, Texas, and is an accredited Veterans Service Officer.



clevelandBenno Cleveland: Army Veteran of Fairbanks, Alaska. Served two tours in Dong Tam, Vietnam where he earned a Purple Heart. He also served as Senior Vice Commander and Department Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. In recognition of his distinguished military service, the Alaska Federation of Natives bestowed him with their “Veteran of the Year” honors in 2014 at their Annual Convention in Anchorage. Mr. Cleveland also founded the Alaska Native Veterans Association and is currently serving as President.



millerGinger Miller: Navy Veteran of Accokeek, Maryland, and former homeless disabled Veteran. Ms. Miller became Founder and CEO of two nonprofit organizations that serve Veterans and their families: John 14:2, Inc. and Women Veterans Interactive. She served as Chairwoman of the Prince George’s County Veterans Commission; Commissioner, Maryland Commission for Women; member of the Maryland Veterans Resilience Advisory Council; and a member of the Maryland Caregivers Support Coordinating Council. She is currently a member of Disabled American Veterans.


Xiomara_A_Sosa colorXiomara Sosa: Army Veteran of Summerville, South Carolina. Ms. Sosa is the Founder and Principal of XAS Consulting, LLC, an integrative mental healthcare and holistic wellness consulting firm. She served on the Women Veteran Social Justice board of directors; Military Partners and Families Veteran Initiative; the Semper Fidelis Health and Wellness Advisory Board; and a current member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, Inc.



The new members join current members:

Marvin Trujillo, Jr., Committee Chairman, Marine Corps Veteran

Many-Bears Grinder, Col. (USA-Ret)

Patricia Jackson-Kelley, Lt. Col. (USA-Ret)

Librado Rivas, Command Sgt. Maj. (USA-Ret)

Teresita Smith, Sgt. First Class (USA-Ret)

Rebecca Stone, Staff Sgt. (USA-Ret)

Cornell Wilson, Jr., Maj. Gen. (USMC-Ret)

Anthony Woods, Army Veteran

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Published on Dec. 23, 2015

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  1. Stephen.Yearwood December 25, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Merry Christmas to all members appointed to VA Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans. I would like your assistance on how to apply for a total 100% Unemployability. I was Seperated from the USNR on 04/29/2014 due to my medical disability according to my Separation discharge. For the last 20 plus years I’ve been nothing but a supported Sailor. After coming back from Iraq my second tour I wasn’t in my right state of mind. I had a tear Rotator Cuff and a bone spur to my right dominant Shoulder that while in Iraq wouldn’t move after waking up. My Right Ankle felt like a Stiff Tree Branch from the rigorous miles walking climbing and standing in the winter as a roving patrol guard. I’ve also had injuries to my right foot while doing PMS on the USS Inchon LPH 12. With so many Marines trucks on the flight deck I had to climb over to get from one side of the flight deck to the other. My Eyes still burns and aggravate up until this day still has sand particles coming from it. My eye doctor at the WJBD V.A medical center Columbia S.C has prescribed Artificial Tear cream to help with the burning of my eyes.I’m wearing corrective glasses that enables my vision. I suffered from head trauma during my 20 plus years of service in the navy career including Ship yard work dry dock multiple hits to the hear from bulkhead and numerous hits to the head from Hump V’s escort training while transporting to and from Compound to compound in Iraq, Some days you couldn’t see two feet ahead of you from the random Sand Storms. I was also sprayed three times with OC while training at Camp Shelby and Forth Bliss Texas while training for IA tour and it literally did damage to my eyes. My left Knees also is painful when walking or bending. I’ve received Cortisone shots but it wears off in two days. I’m currently wearing a knee an elbow right and left risk brace. I’m on sleeping pills anxiety pills pain pills PTSD pills I’m also under my psychologist care at the Rock Hill medical clinic. I would appreciate a responding email from you concerning this matter. Have a Happy New Years.

    Thank you
    PO 2 S.Yearwood

  2. Randy H Woods December 24, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    Who is the representative for gay veterans on the advisory board?

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