About Us

The Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust (CBCVB) is co-chaired by Reps. Corrine Brown (D-FL), Sanford Bishop, Jr. (D-GA), and Charles Rangle (D-NY). It was first established in 1988, under the chairmanship of the Honorable Charles Rangel (D-NY), a decorated Korean War veteran, Dean of the New York Congressional Delegation, and Senior Member and former Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. This body is composed of representatives of many African American community based groups, veterans organizations, associations, institutions, and individuals without regard to era, gender or other affiliation.

The CBCVB serves as a “think tank” and “advisory group” for the Congressional Black Caucus, members of Congress and other groups on such divergent issues as: education, health care, mental health, aging, research, employment and training, homelessness, affordable housing and community development, small business, and benefits and services. Members of the Braintrust provide expert testimony before Congressional hearings, and serve as members of federal, state, and city level advisory committees on matters relating to veterans benefits and services. Over the past two decades the Braintrust has expanded beyond the Congressional districts of the Congressional Black Caucus in an active effort to broaden its base of support among African American veterans, their families and communities.

The Braintrust was instrumental in drafting language for HR 5400 the Comprehensive Homeless Veterans Act, which became PL 103-584, which includes expanded services and benefits for homeless veterans and the establishment of a homeless grants program that provides direct funding through the Department of Veterans Affairs to community based agencies. Also the introduction of legislation that ultimately created the Chief Minority Affairs Office Act of 1992, and the subsequent law that created the Center for Minority Veterans Affairs Committee at one time during the 103rd Congress; the expanion of the Agent Orange Class Actin Program funding to more African American individuals and community based organizations; the identification of unmet needs of Aftican American Vietnam veterans within the Readjustment Counseling Service Program; and the coordination of three special Congressional oversight hearings on African Americans in 1992, 1993 and 1994.

Furthermore, Braintrust members have developed workshop proposals and presented at state and national conferences such as Blacks in Government (BIG), Indiana Black Expo, New Jersey Black Issues Convention (BIC), National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW), New York State Black and Hispanic Caucus Legislative Weekend, The Annual Conference on the Concerns of Veterans, National Medical Association (NMA), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and since 1995, began attending international veterans gatherings in Africa and throughout the world from its singular involvement with the World Veterans Federation (WVF), located in Paris, France.

Although, one of the newer Braintrust in its relatively brief existence it has tallied some impressive accomplishments on behalf of African American veterans. For example, in 1994, President Clinton’s decision to participate in a special tribute honoring the one million African American men and women in uniform during World War II marked the first-ever appearance of a sitting President at a Braintrust event in the 24 year history of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference. As a result the Veterans Braintrust was designated as a commemorative community by the Department of Defense for its efforts to recognize the contributions of African Americans during World War II. And in 1995, the Veterans Braintrust became the proud recipient of the Julius E. William’s Distinguished Community Service Award presented at the 26th Annual NAACP Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 2000, was again designated a commemorative community by the Department of Defense for its efforts to recognize the contributions of African American veterans during the Korean War, and in 2005, received the George Washington Honor Medal from the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.