Remembering Gordon Mansfieldby Senator Mark Kirk
Posted on 2013-02-04
KIRK. Mr. President, today I rise to honor the legacy of
former VA Deputy Secretary Gordon Mansfield; a combat veteran, friend,
and tireless advocate for our veterans. He passed away last week. Over
the course of his distinguished career Gordon served his nation, its
veterans, and those persevering through disabilities. He will be missed
but his legacy remembered.
Like many in his generation, Gordon enlisted and served in Vietnam. During the Tet Offensive, while on his second combat tour, Gordon was wounded and sustained a spinal cord injury. He was awarded the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, and Presidential Unit Citation. While recovering from his injuries, Gordon earned his law degree, and upon moving back to Florida, began practicing law. He served as a counsel in a legal aid program devoted to assisting his fellow veterans.
From 1981 to 1989, Gordon served as the executive director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, advocating for disabled veterans' interests on a national level. His work at PVA was instrumental in standing up the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims as well as shaping landmark disabilities advocacy legislation. In 1989, Gordon joined the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and served as President George H.W. Bush's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. There he served as a strong advocate for accessible housing.
In 2001, Gordon once again answered the call to help veterans, joining Secretary Anthony Principi as the Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2004, he became the Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer, and served as Acting Secretary in 2007. During his time at the VA, Gordon oversaw the implementation of the post-9/11 GI bill and many other major transformation initiatives.
I worked closely with Gordon to establish the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, the Nation's first fully integrated Department of Defense-VA medical center. Only a few years before, a Washington consulting company recommended the closure of the North Chicago VA. Instead, the idea behind the Lovell FHCC was born.
Working with Gordon was a privilege, and through his dedication to this effort, we succeeded. Today, over 100,000 veterans, military servicemembers, and their families have access to state-of-the-art health care at the Lovell FHCC.
It is for this, and his many other accomplishments, that we thank and honor Gordon Mansfield for his service to this Nation.