2017 Congressional Black Caucus and Annual Veterans Braintrust Forum

The National Association of American Veterans, Inc. Constance A. Burns, president, chief executive officer, and veterans’ service officer, attends this year’s Annual Veterans Braintrust Forum held on September 22, 2017, at the DC Convention Center in Washington, DC.The theme of the forum, “Reimagining the VA Health Care System for 2040,” focused on strategically thinking about changing the demographics of the Veterans’ population, particularly African American and women Veterans and the scale of changes to provide the best health care services available. The Veterans Braintrust allows Veterans and other stakeholders an opportunity to engage in productive discussion with national leaders of the 115th Congress, African American health care organizations, Veterans’ service organizations, women Veterans, and interested participants to discuss disparities in health care among minority Veterans nationwide.

The Veterans Braintrust forum agenda begin with the Presentation of Colors by Bowie State Army ROTC; the singing of the National Anthem by Kobe Mukes of Indiana Pledge of Alliance; Joe Geeter and Dr. James Averhart, past and immediate past president of the Montford Point Marines; invocation and benediction by Rev. Arthur Wright of Seattle, Washington; and Ron E. Armstead, Executive Director, CBC Veterans Braintrust.

Special guests included Veterans Braintrust Co-Chair U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop, Jr. (D-GA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), and Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), who gave opening remarks at the forum. Special guests included DVA Center for Minority Veterans, VA Office of Academic Affiliation (OAA), the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV), and the National Association of American Veterans, Inc. in Washington, DC.


Veterans Braintrust speakers included a video message from Dr. David Shulkin, MD, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); Vivieca Wright Simpson, Keynote Speaker, VA Chief of Staff; Brigadier General Talita Crosland, U.S. Army Medical   Command. Other noteworthy speakers included Dr. James E. K. Hildreth, twelfth President of Meharry Medical College; Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD, sixth President of Morehouse School of Medicine; Barbara Ward, Director, DVA Center of Minority Veterans; Kathryn Monet, Chief Executive Officer, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans; Dr.  Brenda L. Moore, University at Buffalo, SUNY; and Kathleen Klink, MD, Director, Health Professions Education, Office of Academic Affiliations, Veterans Health Administration. 

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is the largest integrated health care system in the United States, providing careat 1,245 health care facilities, including 170 VA Medical Center nationwide. The VA Aspire Center, located in San Diego, California, helps Veterans get their life back and provides comprehensive care for women Veterans. However, the VA is continuously moving forward to close the gaps and ensure that it are meeting the needs of those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. For more information about these new initiatives, please call the VA Central Office at 800-273-8255, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p. m. EST, or visit www.va.gov.


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