Posted: 11/21/2008 8:15:12 PM EDT
Maryland lt. gov. in running for VA secretary
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Nov 21, 2008 16:24:15 EST
An Army Reserve colonel and Iraq war veteran could become the next secretary of Veterans’ Affairs.
Anthony Brown, Maryland’s lieutenant governor, is getting attention because he is on President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team as co-chair of the group studying priorities for the Veterans Affairs Department — and because, like Obama, he is a Harvard Law School graduate.
Brown, who turned 47 on Friday, had been a member of Veterans for Clinton, a group that supported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., for the Democratic presidential nomination.
That he was named to the transition team appears to show that early support for an Obama rival has not worked against him.
Brown also helped draft the 2008 Democratic Party national platform last summer.
Brown’s name, hotly circulating Friday among people advising the Obama transition, comes after speculation had centered on two other people to take over the VA, both disabled veterans.
Former Sen. Max Cleland, a 67-year-old Vietnam veteran who lost both legs and an arm in that conflict, served as head of the then-Veterans Administration during the Carter administration and campaigned hard for Obama in the recent election campaign.
Tammy Duckworth, a 41-year-old Iraq war veteran who lost both legs when her helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, has served as the head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs since she lost a 2006 race for Congress.
Duckworth, a major in the Illinois National Guard, has been mentioned as a possible successor to Obama’s U.S. Senate seat, which he resigned after being elected president.
Obama aides did not respond to questions about the VA nomination. Although there has been speculation about several cabinet posts, no formal announcements have been made about nominees.
Brown was commissioned in the Army in 1984 and spent five years on active duty as a helicopter pilot with the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. He entered law school after leaving active duty. After getting his law degree, he spent two years as a clerk for the U.S. Court of Military Appeals.
Brown deployed to Iraq in 2004 as part of the 353rd Civil Affairs Command, and since 2007 has commanded the Army Reserve’s Pennsylvania-based 153rd Legal Support Organization.
Brown served as a Maryland state delegate from 1999 until his election as the state’s lieutenant governor in 2006.
Since then, he has worked on a variety of military and veterans projects, serving as chairman of the Maryland Veterans Behavioral Health Advisory Board that oversees efforts to provide and improve direct mental health services to returning veterans and working to expand services for veterans in rural areas.
“We will provide the services when they are not available to veterans,” Brown said in an interview with Military Times earlier this year about Maryland’s initiatives for returning veterans.
When Brown and Gov. Martin O’Malley looked at what they could do for returning veterans, Brown said, “The glaring area is in mental health, … the inability of VA to care for veterans.”
To those who contend that this is a federal responsibility, Brown said that when he looks at someone, he doesn’t see a federal worker or civilian worker, but a Maryland resident.
“When they come home and take off the uniform, they are our neighbors,” he said.
Brown is also black like obama. I'm sure that has no bearing though.