February is Black History Month and VA is proud to join our country in celebrating the extraordinary legacy of Black Americans.
There are more than two million Black Veterans in the United States who have made incredible sacrifices for our country. One of them was Lawrence Brooks, who was the oldest known World War II Veteran. Brooks was drafted in 1940 and served in the Army’s 91st Engineer Battalion. On Jan. 5, 2022, Brooks passed away at 112.
Black History Month is celebrated each year in February to recognize the significant contributions that Black Americans have made in our nation’s history. It is a time to collectively celebrate racial pride, assess our nation’s commitment to the ideals of freedom, and reflect on and commemorate the struggle for freedom and equality.
National African American History Month had its origins in 1915 when historian and author Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of the Negro Life and History. Through this organization, Dr. Woodson initiated the first Negro History Week in February 1926. Dr. Woodson selected the week in February that included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
Jesse Brown was the first Black secretary of Veterans Affairs. Former Secretary Brown was a Marine Corps Veteran and a fierce trailblazer in developing medical, housing and employment programs for injured Veterans. In 2004, the VA Chicago Health Care System was renamed in honor of Former Secretary Brown.
Dr. Howard Kenney
Dr. Howard Kenney was the first Black director to integrate the VA hospital system with his position at the East Orange, New Jersey, VA facility. In 1969, he again made history by becoming the first Black American to be appointed as a VA Regional Medical Director. Dr. Kenney also worked as an associate deputy chief for policy, plans and operations at VA central headquarters before retiring in the 1970s.
Brandy Woods is a 2020 recipient of the Veterans Healing Veterans (VHV) Medical Access & Scholarship Program. Woods, an Army Veteran, attends Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. Morehouse is one of 107 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the country and one of nine medical schools participating in VHV.