November 21, 2008 – 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.
Anthony G. Brown: Biography
Taken from the website of Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown
Anthony G. Brown was inaugurated as Maryland’s 8th lieutenant governor on January 17, 2007.
He works in full partnership with Governor Martin O’Malley to deliver on their campaign promises: to strengthen and grow Maryland’s middle class; to improve public safety and public education in every part of our state; and expand opportunities for all Marylanders.
Mr. Brown has long shown a deep commitment to public service, his community, the state of Maryland and our nation.
Prior to being selected to run along side Martin O’Malley, Mr. Brown was twice elected to represent residents of Prince George’s County (District 25) in the Maryland House of Delegates. In Mr. Brown’s second term, House Speaker Michael Busch selected him to be Majority Whip where he took an active leadership role on such issues as veteran’s affairs, health care and adoption services. He also championed various economic development initiatives, including overhauling Maryland’s Enterprise Zone Program.
Mr. Brown is a Harvard-educated attorney and has been a member of the Active and Reserve Components of the United States Army since 1984. In 2004, Mr. Brown was deployed to Iraq to serve a 10-month tour with the Multi-National Force-Iraq, where he worked with military and civilian officials to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of the war-torn country.
In 2007, Mr. Brown was promoted to the rank of Colonel and currently commands the 153rd Legal Support Organization located in Pennsylvania. Mr. Brown is currently the highest-ranking elected official in the nation who has served a tour of duty in Iraq.
Within the O’Malley/Brown Administration, Mr. Brown focuses on four major policy areas:
1. Military Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC)
2. Veterans Affairs
4. Higher Education
5. Economic Development
As chairman of the Governor’s Subcabinet on BRAC, Mr. Brown oversees the state’s efforts to plan for the anticipated arrival of at least 28,000 BRAC households and 60,000 BRAC-related jobs in the state. He coordinates with government and military agencies to ensure Maryland’s infrastructure and workforce is adequately prepared for BRAC.
During the 2008 legislative session, on behalf of the O’Malley-Brown Administration, Mr. Brown championed legislation to care for the behavioral health of veterans transitioning from combat back to their communities. He also worked to establish special funding for a veterans business loan program and academic scholarships for veterans and their family members.
In addition, Mr. Brown serves as co-chair of the Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council designed to bring together health care leaders to collaborate on ways to improve quality and contain costs across the public and private sectors. The Council will lay out a blueprint to make Maryland an international leader in the delivery of health care.
Since taking office, Mr. Brown – a former chair of the Prince George’s Community College Board of Trustees – has traveled the state visiting community colleges and opening a dialogue with students and administrators.
Mr. Brown believes that community colleges provide an array of educational opportunities for diverse constituencies throughout Maryland. The O’Malley-Brown Administration has invested record amounts in building the capacity of the state’s community colleges.
He serves on the Board of Directors for the East Baltimore Development, Inc. and the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore. He is the O’Malley/Brown Administration’s liaison to the business community and has encouraged expanding opportunities for small and minority and businesses.
Mr. Brown lives in Prince George’s County and has two children, Rebecca and Jonathan.