As the committee’s only Vietnam veteran, Milam may be uniquely situated to offer insights about the current and future needs of veterans.
Ron Milam, executive director of the Texas Tech University Institute for Peace & Conflict (IPAC) and a Vietnam War veteran, will soon be using his expertise to benefit his fellow veterans.
U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert L. Wilkie recently appointed Milam to a three-year term on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) Veterans' Advisory Committee on Rehabilitation (VACOR), which provides advice to the secretary on the rehabilitation needs of disabled veterans and the administration of the VA's rehabilitation programs.
"The VA is a huge organization, the second largest department in the federal government," said Milam, an associate professor in the Department of History within the College of Arts & Sciences. "Because there are so many veterans to serve, and as a way of cutting through the bureaucracy, they rely on advisory committees of citizens to make recommendations to the Secretary for Veterans Affairs as to how to best meet veterans' needs.
"VACOR mostly deals with the needs of veterans who are having trouble finding jobs, who need job training and who are struggling to adjust to civilian life, and there are always health issues, both physical and mental. Our committee also advises the Secretary on homeless-veteran issues, a cause I am particularly interested in."
As the committee's only Vietnam veteran, Milam says he may be uniquely situated to offer insights about current needs and anticipate the future needs of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
Looking ahead to those needs, it's certainly an appropriate time to have a Lubbock resident on the committee. A new VA superclinic is currently under construction near the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) and UMC Health System. The facility will have 94,000 square feet of usable space, which is more than double the footprint of the current clinic, and an added collaboration between the VA and TTUHSC will help provide for more specialty needs and social services. It is expected to open in late 2021.
"I was honored to be selected to serve, and I recognize that the VA sees Texas Tech as a model for what a university can do to help veterans: the TTUHSC, the Institute for Peace & Conflict, The Vietnam Center & Sam Johnson Vietnam Archive as well as the Military & Veterans Programs all contribute to that perception," Milam said. "I'm just a guy who hopes my presence in D.C. can add to what we are already doing here. I look forward to at least three years of hard work, helping to find answers to how we can best serve those who have served."
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