Editor’s note: The following is a statement from VA Secretary Denis McDonough on the passing of former senator from Georgia and then “Veterans Administration” administrator Max Cleland.

Max Cleland. ARLINGTON, VA, UNITED STATES. 09.19.2014. Photo by Staff Sgt. Sean Harp, Defense Imagery Management Operations Center.

All of VA grieves the loss of Senator Max Cleland, an indefatigable public servant and patriot. Senator Cleland served everywhere from the jungles of Vietnam to the halls of Washington to his beloved home state of Georgia, becoming a war hero and the father of the modern VA in the process.

As a young man, he volunteered to serve in Vietnam and earned a Silver Star and Bronze Star for his selfless service. As the director of the Veterans Administration, he shaped VA to be more responsive to his fellow Vietnam Veterans, and VA doctors recognized post-traumatic stress for the first time on his watch. As a Senator, he expanded benefits for Veterans through the G.I. Bill and helped bring the Georgia National Cemetery into existence. And in his later years, he continued his lifelong mission of fighting for our country and caring for its Veterans.

We are, all of us, forever in Senator Max Cleland’s debt. My heart goes out to all those who knew and loved him. We will miss him dearly.

We previously profiled Max Cleland as VA’s “Veteran of the Day” on April 5, 2019.

By Denis McDonough is the VA secretary

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Published on Nov. 9, 2021

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  1. David Milligan November 13, 2021 at 7:54 pm

    I had the distinct Honor of meeting Director Max at his office in Wash. D.C. during his appointment there for President Carter. I was introduced to him there in his office by the VA Appointed Congressional Leiazon to both Houses of Congress, my great friend Tim Craig. As It happens X-marine Tim Craig was also treated, in later years, at the VA Medical Center in Long Beach, where I visited him. This all has been a high Honor Mark in my life. Rest in pease, Max Cleland God Bless you Tim Craig.
    Vietnam Veteran U.S. Army 1966-7

  2. Pat Dwyer November 11, 2021 at 5:36 am

    I had the honor of meeting Max Cleland at a ceremony at the cemetery in San Francisco’s Presidio. He very patiently sat, after the speeches, to speak to each person lined up afterwards. When my turn came, I stuck out my left hand to shake his left hand [his only remaining extremity] and only said: “Thank you.” He saw the “1st Aviation Brigade” pin on my lapel, nodded, smiled, and said: “Thank YOU.” Meeting him was and always will be a high honor. R.I.P., sir.

  3. Dennis Regan November 10, 2021 at 3:08 pm

    A most gracious sentiment for a heroic man. Thank you.

  4. Eugene Whitley November 9, 2021 at 11:41 pm

    Rest in Eternal Peace Sir. Job well done, mission accomplished.

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