Veterans of America is mourning the loss of veterans champion and
former national executive director of Paralyzed Veterans, Gordon H.
Mansfield. Mansfield passed away during surgery yesterday at the
Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center. He was 71.
“Gordon was a trailblazer for veterans and all people with
disabilities,” said Bill
Lawson, U.S. Army veteran and national president of Paralyzed
Veterans of America. “Leaders like him have made it possible for people
who use wheelchairs to serve in some of the highest offices in our land.
His legacy will live on and continue to inspire the work we do every day
on behalf of veterans with disabilities. He will be greatly missed.”
The Hon. Gordon H. Mansfield was acting U.S. secretary of Veterans
Affairs (VA) from October to December 2007 and deputy secretary and
chief operating officer of the Department
of Veterans Affairs from 2004 until 2009. Prior to this, he served
as VA assistant secretary for congressional and legislative affairs.
Before joining VA, Mansfield served as executive director of Paralyzed
Veterans of America from 1993 to 2000. He first joined Paralyzed
Veterans’ staff in 1981 in the legislative
program. In November 1982 he was named Paralyzed Veterans’ national advocacy
director, and in 1986 he became the organization’s first associate
executive director of its Government Relations Department. In these
positions, he participated in the strengthening of civil rights for
people with disabilities and the improvement of programs, benefits
and services for our nation’s veterans.
He also served as assistant secretary for fair housing and equal
opportunity at the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1989
to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush.
Mansfield received his undergraduate degree from Villanova University
and law degree from the University of Miami, and had practiced law in
Ocala, Fla. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1964 and served two tours of
duty in Vietnam. His military decorations include the Distinguished
Service Cross, Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, the Combat Infantryman’s
Badge and the Presidential Unit Citation. Mansfield was inducted into
the Army Ranger Hall of Fame in 2007 and the U.S. Officer Candidate
School Hall of Fame in 1997 at Ft. Benning, Ga. He also received the
Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the
Presidential Distinguished Service Award, the Robert Dole Service to Our
Nation Award and Disabled American Veterans Outstanding Disabled Veteran
of the Year Award and was inducted into the Spinal Cord Injury Hall of
In August 2012, during its 66th Annual Convention, Paralyzed Veterans
honored Mansfield with its 2012 Speedy Award, the organization’s highest
award, which was created to acknowledge the outstanding accomplishments
of both members and nonmembers in the field of paraplegia.
“On behalf of everyone here at Paralyzed Veterans of America, I offer
our deepest condolences to Gordon’s wife, Linda, and the entire
Mansfield family,” said Homer
Townsend, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and current executive director
of Paralyzed Veterans.
Veterans of America was founded by a group of seriously injured
American heroes from the “Greatest Generation” of World War II. They
created a nonprofit organization to meet the challenges that they faced
back in the 1940s — from a medical community not ready to treat them to
world. For more than 66 years, Paralyzed Veterans’ national office and
its 34 chapters
across the nation have been making America a better place for all
veterans and people with disabilities. (www.pva.org)